Stafford's Rise Has Given Lions Swagger

AP Photo

The text message flashed on the cell phone of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on the night before Christmas Eve.

Margaret Stafford had been anxiously awaiting her son's game against the San Diego Chargers and hoped to lighten the mood before a contest that could clinch the Lions' first playoff berth in 12 years. When Stafford glanced down at the message, he had to be amused by his mother's sense of humor. All she'd written was a single question: "Do you think Santa will understand a comfortable lead with time left in the fourth quarter?"

You couldn't blame Mama Stafford, either. Like every other Lions fan this season, she'd watched her boy lead a team that seemed most comfortable playing with its back against the wall and the game in serious doubt. ...

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