Injured Stafford leads Lions to improbable finish

Rookie QB Matthew Stafford didn’t let an apparent injury prevent him from leading the Detroit Lions to a 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday with no time left on the clock.

On what appeared to be the last play of the game, Stafford heaved a desperation pass into the end zone with no time remaining that was intercepted by Cleveland’s Brodney Pool. Stafford was driven into the turf by C.J. Mosley on the play, suffering a left shoulder injury.

The game would have been over, ending with the interception and Stafford’s injury, save for a defensive pass interference penalty called on the Browns’ Hank Poteat. So with no time on the clock, the Lions were given one untimed play from the 1-yard line. Veteran backup Daunte Culpepper took the field ready to take the snap, but after a Cleveland timeout Stafford re-entered, and threw a touchdown pass to TE Brandon Pettigrew.

Stafford immediately signaled to the Detroit sideline, grimacing in pain and holding his left shoulder area as he ran off the field. Punter Nick Harris handled the hold on the kick for Jason Hanson, which was good, ending the game.

Stafford had a career day in the win, completing 26 of 43 passes for 422 yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions. His five TDs set the franchise single game mark previously held by Gary Danielson in 1978, and his yards were the third-most in a single game.

An improbable ending in what looks to be the best finish in Week 11. As for Stafford’s injury, coach Jim Schwartz confirmed it was a shoulder injury and said X-rays were negative, but offered no other details.

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