Matthew Stafford won't let illness break start streak

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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Matthew Stafford is still standing tall and he's still starting.

That's nothing new for the Detroit signal-caller, of course.

As he addressed the media on Wednesday, his voice was a little different, though, a little hoarse.

"Just sick," he said.

Is there a possibility the illness will keep the quarterback from the Lions' upcoming showdown with the Raiders? Well, that's a no that comes as easy as Sunday morning.

"I started feeling not so good before the game [against the Giants] and I've just been kind of hanging on, but it should be good by next Sunday," he said. "Don't worry about it."

When Stafford starts on Sunday it will be his 136th consecutive start in the regular season, which is sixth all-time among quarterbacks and his 135 is now second among current streaks behind ironman Philip Rivers (216).

Matt Ryan's run was halted at 154 in a row just a week ago with an ankle injury. Stafford reached out to his fellow gamer.

"I mean it means a lot obviously, I just want to be out there for the guys," Stafford said of the streak. "It doesn't mean anything other than just wanting to be available for those guys. I was actually texting Matt last week trying to figure out if he was going to go or not. I'm buddies with him, I just wanted him to keep history going because I know he is a tough guy that has played through a lot in his career, and [he] just wasn't able to do it. It's like I say, sometimes you just have to get a little bit lucky, something you can play through. I was able -- I have been able to be lucky in that regard."

Unassuming as Stafford is, his career has been just the same. Maybe there's been some luck, but toughness and greatness have no doubt played a much larger role.

Against the Vikings in Week 7, Stafford passed by the 40,000-yard mark in his 147th game. He's the fastest to do so in NFL chronicle. In doing so, he surpassed his buddy Ryan.

Stafford too was the fastest to reach 15,000, 20,000, 25,000 and 30,000. He's also the Lions' all-time passing leader.

But the Lions are longtime underachievers, with Stafford having played in only three playoff games in 11 seasons. He's shared the NFC North with an all-time great named Aaron Rodgers. He's clearly outperformed the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky, but the Chicago signal-caller has surely received more headlines and notice. The same can be said for Kirk Cousins since he's arrived in the division.

Stafford just keeps showing up, keeps starting every Sunday and producing overlooked numbers.

He's playing as well as he ever has, with his 299 yards per game standing as his best average since 2012, his 8.4 yards per attempt, his 16-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and 105.3 QB rating the best of his career.

Against the Raiders, he'll look for a third straight 300-yard game.

"I think I'm playing OK," he said. "There's always room for improvement. I always want a couple throws back, but just trying to keep us scoring points. That's the biggest deal."

In all likelihood, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Stafford take the field with a lunch pail in one hand and a football in the other.

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