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Matthew Stafford leaves game vs. Ravens with apparent hand injury

A Stafford hand injury sunk the Lions in 2016. Is today Groundhog Day?

The Detroit Lions are likely to lose ground in the NFC playoff race after falling behind by 17 points late in a showdown with the Ravens. What’s worse is that they may be without the engine of their offense for an extended period after losing Matthew Stafford to a hand injury.

Stafford appeared to injure the hand on his throwing arm in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s Week 13 showdown. Stafford hit the ground awkwardly after taking a big hit and came up holding his hand.

He was replaced by Jake Rudock. Fortunately for Detroit, his X-rays came back negative.

His status for next week’s game isn’t currently known.

What this means for the Lions: This could be bad, though obviously not as bad as if he’d suffered a broken bone. Stafford suffered ligament damage to his throwing hand last season and was a markedly different player afterward. Detroit lost four straight games after a 9-4 start, including a 26-6 playoff beating at the hands of the Seahawks. At 6-6, the Lions face an uphill climb to the postseason. Without Stafford, they might not be able to take the first step on that journey.