Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears with fractured bones in his back and team doctors won't let him play, sources told ESPN and NFL Network.
Looking past his first two seasons when he started just 13 games, the strong-armed 31-year-old gunslinger has been as tough as they come in the NFL.
He started a team-record 136 consecutive regular-season games, which until this Sunday was the 2nd-longest active start streak in the NFL behind Philip Rivers.
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He also held the 6th-longest all-time start streak behind Brett Favre, Rivers, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. The next closest was Joe Flacco with 122 consecutive starts.
Kelly Stafford, Matthew's wife, confirmed the report of him missing Sunday's start on Instagram that morning.
“I don't think there is anything this man hates more than to not be out there battling with his guys. These men work so hard all year long.. it's tough to sideline them,” said Kelly, who has been recovering from brain tumor surgery. “So I'm grateful for our team docs. He has battled through so much, so much more than anyone knows. I'm incredibly proud to be his wife, he's the toughest SOB.. but I'm happy his body will get a little healing time.”
She added: “i know I can speak for all of us when I say it's always nice to beat the bears! Let's go!”
Before Sunday's game, Lions general manager Bob Quinn made a brief statement about Stafford but declined additional questions, according to ESPN.
“We deactivated him this morning,” Quinn said. “Had the back injury last week near the end of the Oakland game. Practiced on limited all week, listed him as questionable. Got to the stadium this morning, met with the doctors and wasn't medically cleared to play today so he's deactivated. So that's it.”
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His injury was considered week-to-week, which a source told ESPN could mean “this week or 3 weeks.”
Stafford practiced on Friday, where he was seen throwing 60-yard passes, but doctors wanted him to undergo additional testing on the back, the outlet reported. When asked about his injured back on Wednesday, Stafford declared it was “fine.”
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His back injury dated back to last year when it reportedly was broken, however, this season it's gotten much worse – to the point where he nearly missed the team's last-minute loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4.
Replacing Stafford: Jeff Driskel, who started five games for the Cincinnati Bengals last season and made his sixth career start Sunday.