Todd Gurley and the St. Louis Rams dominated the Detroit Lions Sunday in their 21-14 victory.
Coming into the game Sunday, the Detroit Lions had played the Green Bay Packers twice in four weeks, and one can argue, both times should have been two-point victories bringing their record to 5-2 since the firing of their then-offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. In fact, it was the firing that has sparked their best stretch of play this season. Previously, the Miami Dolphins had fired ex-head coach Joe Philbin and began playing better as well. Seems to be a trend this season to fire a coach on some level to inspire better play. A trend that has worked for the most part. St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher must have figured, “Why not us?”
In the first game after the firing of ex-offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, the Rams score three times — four if Tavon Austin’s return doesn’t get called back — while the defense stifles Detroit to win convincingly, 21-14 in a game that was more impressive than the final score.
In the second of three straight homes and with Case Keenum at quarterback, Rams fans were reminded of how life could be in a perfect world. In the first half, their team gave up next to nothing. Outside of a couple of short drives that eventually stalled, the only thing the Rams defense felt generous about were Lions punts. Without bookends Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the active roster, the Rams did not allow the Lions a single red zone visit until well into the third quarter. Amazingly, D-back Trumaine Johnson also kept future Hall-of-Famer Calvin Johnson from catching his first pass until the forth quarter — frankly, quite the shocking thing to witness. And although it will never be admitted, Matthew Stafford will be seeing defensive standout Aaron Donald is his dreams all week as the man simply harassed him all day while beating double-teams and adding three more sacks to his total. even more incredible when you keep in mind, this was without starting defensive ends Long and Quinn taking attention away.
THE WINNING FORMULA…I’LL TAKE IT!
The Rams, in this writer’s opinion, can beat any team on any given Sunday if they’re offense manages to look at or even slightly above average. Their main hurdles are injuries and consistency — Shush, haters! I said, ‘main’ not ‘only.’ With that defense, all they need to do to win most games is show signs of life on offense in the first half of a game while the defense does what it does. In the second half, should Case Keenum or someone equally as average or better currently without playing time this year, keep things decently rolling when both defenses wear down, RB Todd Gurley is bound to takeover. His 140-yard/2-TD performance appeared to be picking up steam as the game neared its end. This is one predictable pattern I don’t think opposing teams can stop on a regular basis…Ask the Lions!
Scoring summary per quarter:
FIRST QUARTER: Seven straight possessions collectively, seven straight punts into the second quarter with the longest plays by each being a modest 13 and 15 yards. The great defensive play of both teams ruled quarter one. Score: Rams 0, Lions 0
SECOND QUARTER: After a quick three-and-out by the Rams, the Lions get the back back only to see Matthew Stafford make his biggest mistake of the afternoon, a Calvin Johnson pass gets picked off by corner Trumaine Johnson and taken the 58-yard distance for a PICK 6 INT. The Lions came back driving but 15-yard penalty stalled them. On the Rams next possession, a sustaining drive as well, Case Keenum threw an INT inside the two-minute warning. No further scoring in the quarter. Halftime Score: Rams 7, Lions 0
THIRD QUARTER: After two more 3-and-outs by each, the Lions evened the score on highlights of a 15-yard Joique Bell run, and two Golden Tate completions, the second being a 9-yard SCORE. The Rams answered rather quickly on a 49-yard burst by Todd Gurley and two more runs of 5 and 6 yards (6-yard TD). The Lions could only achieve one first down before punting the ball to Tavon Austin. Austin fired off an 83-yard return for a touchdown but a holding penalty nullified his effort. Score: Score: Rams 14, Lions 7
FOURTH QUARTER: Including a 25-yard completion to Kenny Brit and another spectacular run of 25-yard by Gurley, the Rams drove an impressive-looking 91 yards on 7 plays and capped it off with a 15-yard Gurley SCORING RUN to take a 2-touchdown lead. The Lions would later score again on a drive highlighted by a 16-yard completion to Calvin Johnson (his first catch of the day while uncovered by Trumaine Johnson), a second completion to receiver Golden Tate for a 2-yard TD. Final Score: Score: Rams 21, Lions 14
Not to go unmentioned because he played a huge part in the Rams success [as usual], was St. Louis’ all-pro pro bowl punter Johnny Hekker. The Rams signed the Pro Bowl punter to a six-year, $18 million contract extension at the end of last season and he’s been worth every last penny. Of the Rams’ 6 punts Sunday, 5 were inside the 20-yard line, 3 were inside the 10-yard line, and 2 pinned the Lions inside their own 5-yard line. Named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month back in October, he is certainly the Rams’ constant, for sure. It would be nice to take advantage of the championship-caliber window the Rams’ defense and special teams units have given the team.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
The Rams’ next game is this Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.