Stafford's first rushing touchdown of the season completed the Lions' eighth fourth-quarter rally as they edged the Chicago Bears 20-17 on Sunday at Ford Field.
His 7-yard run with 3:17 left moved the Lions (9-4) closer to their first division title in 23 years. They lead the NFC North by two games with three games remaining.
On Detroit's previous possession, Bears rookie cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc picked off a Stafford pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown, putting the Lions in a four-point hole.
"It was a bad play. You've got to flush them and move on," Stafford said. "It's something they teach you in Quarterback 101 and it's something that really pays off. I think everybody knew it was my fault. Just go from there and try to make up for it and we were able to."
Stafford injured his right middle finger when he banged it off the body of Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd while throwing the ball away in the first quarter. He wore a glove to protect the finger the rest of the way. Head coach Jim Caldwell declined to talk about the injury and Stafford said he would have an X-ray.
"He leads our group," Caldwell said. "I don't think anybody has ever questioned his toughness or questioned his ability to come back from a setback. He throws a pick six and comes right back and takes the team right down the field and puts it in the end zone."
Stafford, who played with a fractured finger five seasons ago, completed 21 of 35 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. But he threw two interceptions against Chicago for the second time this season.
"That's Matt. He's the ultimate competitor," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "I don't think he's going to let a finger stop him from competing."
Golden Tate caught six passes for 58 yards and Boldin caught three passes, including a touchdown, for Detroit. The Lions defense held the opponent to 20 points or less for the seventh straight game.
LeBlanc's interception was he first takeaway of his career. Matt Barkley completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown for Chicago (3-10). Jordan Howard rushed for 86 yards on 13 carries but the Bears committed 11 penalties for 139 yards.
"Our margin for error right now is very minimal," Bears coach John Fox said. "Effort is not an area we're deficient in. We don't play quite well enough to win consistently."
The Bears were coming off a win over San Francisco but the penalties were too much to overcome on Sunday.
"When everybody is playing at an elite level in this league, you have to be elite to win," Barkley said.
Matt Prater's 54-yard field goal with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter gave Detroit a 13-3 advantage.
Cameron Meredith's 31-yard touchdown catch later in the quarter, after he got a step on cornerback Darius Slay, pulled the Bears within three points. Howard's 31-yard run put Chicago in Lions territory.
The Lions seemed poise to stretch their lead early in the fourth. But Stafford's pass to the end zone was deflected by cornerback Bryce Callahan off Tate's facemask and into the hands of safety Demontre Hurst.
After Detroit forced a punt, Stafford made a poor decision as LeBlanc jumped in front of Boldin and scampered 24 yards to put Chicago up 17-13 with 7:07 remaining.
Stafford then made up for his mistake by scrambling seven yards for a touchdown. He avoided a sack, then bounced off a couple of defenders on his rumble up the middle. That 76-yard drive was aided by two Bears penalties.
A pair of holding penalties stalled the Bears' final possession.
The Lions emerged from the first half with a 10-3 lead.
The Lions played without two of their key offensive players. Top RB Theo Riddick sat out with wrist and ankle injuries, while C Travis Swanson missed the game with a concussion.
Chicago's wide receiving corps, already down top threat Alshon Jeffery because of a league suspension, was missing Eddie Royal (toe) and Marquess Wilson (groin). T Mike Adams (back) and CB Johnthan Banks (ankle) also sat out.
Chicago has now lost 10 or more games for the third consecutive season.
The Lions face the top teams in the NFC East, the New York Giants and Dallas, on the road the next two weeks. Chicago hosts Green Bay next Sunday.
The Lions have now defeated the Bears seven of the last eight meetings, including four straight at home. Chicago's last victory at Ford Field was a 26-24 squeaker on Dec. 30, 2012.