Another domino has fallen in what we figured would be a big night for NFC North accolades. A panel of Associated Press voters has named Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford its comeback player of the year.
Two shoulder separations limited Stafford to three starts, and only one full game, in 2010. But he returned in 2011 to throw for 5,038 yards and lead the Lions to their first playoff appearance in more than a decade. He started all 17 games, playing in all but 12 of their offensive snaps, and was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl. He received 21 of the possible 50 votes.
Speaking to reporters earlier Saturday, Stafford acknowledged the likelihood he could win the award but made clear it would be the final step in pushing past the injury-ravaged start of his NFL career.
"If it happens, it happens," Stafford said. "I'd be very happy if I win it. At the same time. It's not something I want to make a habit of."
To clear up some of the confusion this evening, please be advised that the awards show is going on as we type and read but won't be televised until 9 p.m. ET on NBC.