ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matthew Stafford has started 129 consecutive games for the Detroit Lions since the start of the 2011 season. Yet he still marvels at Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, whose streak is ahead of Stafford’s by 80 games.
“He’s a great quarterback, does a great job,” Stafford said. “I think underappreciated in a lot of aspects. And obviously, the guy shows up for his team every week. Played in the AFC Championship game with a torn ACL, which is incredible. I’m sure he’s played through a million other things that nobody knows about, too.
“So got to give him a lot of credit. Guy is there week-in and week-out and playing at a high level. It’s impressive.”
Rivers and Stafford are among the top 6 in consecutive starts in NFL history — still well behind Brett Favre’s record 297 straight games from 1992 to 2010. Eli Manning is second with 210, followed by Rivers (209), Peyton Manning (208), Matt Ryan (148) and Stafford.
Rivers’ streak started on Sept. 11, 2006 — when Stafford was a true freshman at the University of Georgia, less than a week away from making the first start of his college career.
Stafford’s streak began exactly five years later, on Sept. 11, 2011.
Rivers and Stafford have played through injuries during their streaks — Stafford had a back injury last season and an injured finger on his throwing hand in 2016; Rivers played through a torn ACL and a back injury in 2014 and was cleared following a 2017 concussion in time for his next start.
“I think there’s a lot that goes into it,” Stafford said. “Some of it is luckily, being able to play through some of the stuff that you have. Sometimes you have stuff that the quarterback position can’t play through. Other times you can.
“It’s not like he’s had however many starts and he feels awesome every time he goes out there. But he’s been able to battle through that stuff and play.”