Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan calmly walked over to quarterback
"We talked about the fact that we couldn’t stop the clock and we had to be aggressive down the field for the throws inbounds and we just couldn’t take a check down that got tackled inbounds," Linehan said.
"We talked about what check-down was okay. We talked that somewhere early in a drive (we) had to get a big play, so be aggressive with that."
Stafford threw a check-down to
The second play was a 17-yard strike to
Linehan is talking to Stafford in every two-minute situation in the quarterback helmet microphone. He says there’s a slight delay after the microphone is turned on about 15 seconds after the previous play.
"So (Stafford) gets them in the formation," Linehan said. "He knows what hash mark we’re on goes with what formation, we have kind of a rule there, and as soon as he’s set, we call the play and he’s calling it as I’m calling it."
The nice thing about this particular drive is the Lions were able to get out of bounds twice and spike the ball another time, so they didn't have many situations where they were scrambling without a huddle.
The second play of the drive to Johnson got the Lions started out to their 37-yard line, but Linehan knew there needed to be another big chunk play somewhere else.
"That got us some field position and we thought that we probably needed one more (big play) and it came after that play." Linehan said.
It was a 40-yard strike from Stafford to
"Maybe one of the best plays I’ve ever seen in a two-minute situation because of the ability to get the field position and the clock stopped," Linehan said.
"Matt can manipulate the defense by moving just a little bit and that forced an even bigger lane down the sideline and then having the arm strength to throw the ball that far against zone coverage. It’s got to go down as one of the best throws I’ve ever seen him make."
Stafford then comes back and throws an equally impressive 22-yard pass behind a defender and in front of Johnson down to the 1-yard line.
"Those are probably the two best throws he’s ever made," Linehan said.
The throw to Johnson set up the dramatic finish as Stafford tried to get everyone to the line of scrimmage to clock the ball.
"That was the discussion before the drive, ‘Any second we lose where I have to remind you is valuable,’" Linehan said. "So he knew as soon as the ball was inbounds on any play, it didn’t matter what down except fourth down, the clock was our enemy."
But that’s one direction Stafford disobeyed, in lieu of making a play, when he reached the ball over the goal line for the touchdown instead of spiking the ball.
Linehan didn’t mind that improvisation at all.
Of Stafford’s 22 career victories, 12 have now come on game-winning drives in the fourth quarter.
"He’s been in our system for five years and he knows what we’re going to call and why," Linehan said. "He’s an extension of what we do out there and I think all great quarterbacks are."