Hidden among the gaudy numbers Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady have put up in 2011 are the impressive statistics of Matthew Stafford.
If it's possible, Stafford has quietly thrown for more than 4,500 yards this season and his prolific passing attack is the subject of this week's Anatomy of a Play.
Any discussion of the Lions' vertical passing game has to begin with wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He's tied for the league lead in touchdowns and ranks second in receiving yardage. But the attention he receives from opposing defenses might benefit the Lions the most. Johnson is almost always double-teamed, and while that often doesn't deter Stafford from throwing his way, the attention opens up routes for Detroit's other receivers. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and wide receivers Nate Burleson and Titus Young are accomplished pass catchers in their own right and complete Stafford's arsenal.
The Lions have relied on their passing game throughout the season. It has carried them to their first playoff berth since 1999 and any success in the postseason will once again rest on Stafford's right arm.