Sunday, November 13, 2011
Matthew Stafford: Wind or the finger injury?
By Kevin Seifert
CHICAGO -- As you have probably heard by now, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford revealed Sunday that he has a fracture in his right index finger. To help compensate, Stafford wore gloves throughout the Lions' 37-13 loss to the Chicago Bears but blamed windy conditions at Soldier Field more than the injury for an inaccurate and turnover-filled performance.
I think we'll have to judge for ourselves on this one. It's true that the wind was blowing between 22 and 35 miles per hour here on the shore of Lake Michigan. There was no doubt that a few throws, and also a 43-yard field goal attempt by Bears place-kicker Robbie Gould, were redirected by wind gusts.
But it's probably a mistake to ignore a fracture in the finger that helps control accuracy for any NFL quarterback. The injury occurred during the Lions' Week 8 victory at the Denver Broncos, and the team reported it on its injury report all week. But I don't know if anyone realized the extent of it until Stafford confirmed it Sunday.
Stafford said afterwards that he never wears gloves for games, indoor or outdoors. Sunday, he said: "I wasn't wearing it for any other reason other than to try to help me grip because of my finger."
You can be the judge of whether, or to what extent, the finger/glove combination impacted Stafford's day. He completed just more than half of his career-high 63 attempts and threw four interceptions. You can chalk up at least one of the interceptions, on a pass that sailed behind tight end Tony Scheffler in the third quarter, to an unexpected wind gust. Lions receiver Nate Burleson said that pass "took a hard left turn" as it approached Scheffler.
For the record, here's what Stafford said when asked about the injury's impact:
"Not that much. I think wind more than anything. We just put ourselves in a tough spot. We had to come back in the second half and throw the ball, try to get back in the game. The wind was throwing the ball around. They had a tough time throwing it, we had a tough time throwing it. Just part of it. We can't put ourselves behind early like we did and expect to come back."
For the record, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed 9 of 19 passes. I'll have much more on Stafford's day, and its implications for the Lions moving forward, in a bit.