After his second encounter with COVID-19 this season, Matthew Stafford struggled to find his groove Sunday afternoon.
Less than a day after he was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Detroit Lions quarterback sounded like the protocol is taking its toll.
Stafford and the Lions fell to the Minnesota Vikings 34-20. Stafford left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a shot to the head and did not return.
Stafford leaves early with head injury
Stafford had a decent showing in the first half at US Bank Stadium, throwing a 15-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones and at one point completing 16 straight passes.
A late Vikings touchdown to close out the half, however, put the Lions in a 10-point hole at the break — something that got only worse.
Stafford threw back-to-back interceptions in the red zone in the third quarter. Trying to hit tight end T.J. Hockenson, Stafford was picked off at the 12-yard line. Then, after a blocked punt set them up in great field position, Stafford threw another pick five plays into the drive, this one in the end zone.
“I felt like I was playing at a pretty great clip there for a little bit,” Stafford said. “Obviously some throws I’d want back, the two interceptions were bad decisions … I think we moved the ball well in between the 20s, we just didn’t come away with enough points.”
Stafford left the game early in the fourth quarter after taking a shot to the head, and was being evaluated for a concussion — though he cleared concussion protocol hours later. He did not return, and finished throwing 23-of-32 for 211 yards.
“I feel OK, just held the ball too long,” he said. “Doctors did their job, and I’m good.”
Stafford didn’t practice all week after COVID scare
Stafford was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the second time this season last week after his family had close contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
He landed on the list in early August after testing positive for the coronavirus, however quickly tested negative multiple times — meaning the first test was a false positive. He was activated three days later.
Stafford never tested positive himself this time, either, and was activated off the list on Saturday just in time for Sunday’s matchup with the Vikings.
While not having practiced all week may have taken a toll on the 32-year-old’s game, it’s having to be separated from his family — something he says he’ll have to do again when the team gets back to Michigan — that’s really making things hard for him.
“I just hate being away from my family,” Stafford said. “Finish a practice, finish a game, go hug my daughters, hug my wife. That’s what sometimes makes it worth it for me. Not being able to see them and hang with them has been really tough.”
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