clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The history of Detroit Lions vs. Los Angeles Rams

Taking a look back all the way to the 1930s.

Detroit Lions QB Bobby Layne... SetNumber: X1869

Who’s ready for a butt whipping? I think every Detroit Lions fan alive is fully aware that this Sunday’s matchup against former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams could be a very difficult game to watch—unless you’re all in on seeing this Lions team lose this game. If that’s you, then this should be fun.

But, as you all know, we’re not here to talk about the future. We’re here to talk about the beautiful past. So let’s get to it. Here’s the history between the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams.

How it all started

This should be fun and different. The Rams have called three different cities their home. So let’s dive super deep and talk about all three.

First of all, the Lions started their 1937 season with a game against the Cleveland Rams. The Lions absolutely destroyed the Rams with a 28-0 victory off the strength of two defensive touchdowns.

Nine years later, the Rams became the first professional football team to play in Los Angeles. If you’re looking at me and wondering why I’m ignoring the 1926 Los Angeles Buccaneers, it’s because the Buccaneers never actually played a game in Los Angeles. They operated the team out of Chicago with players that exclusively came from California.

Anyhow, the Lions traveled to Los Angeles for the first time ever on October 20, 1946. That was exactly 75 years ago this past Wednesday. So I guess you could call Sunday’s game the 75th anniversary of the first time the Lions played the LA Rams. Hopefully the Lions fare a little better than they did 75 years ago. They lost that game, 35-14. Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield threw two touchdowns passes and kicked the extra points on all five Rams touchdowns. Geez, that guy is talented. Legendary actress Jane Russell thought so, too. She married Waterfield in 1943.

Fast forward a half-century later, and on November 7, 1999 the Lions welcomed the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams into the Pontiac Silverdome. Detroit beat them 31-27 after they forced the Greatest Show on Turf to turn the ball over a couple times, and Gus Frerotte had his hero moment. Here are the highlights.

What the world was like

Normally, I would go through a history of what happened on a certain day in 1937 or something., but I’m going to use the three different moments from above as an excuse to look at the evolution of music over time. So here we go:

The No. 1 song when the Lions played the Cleveland Rams in 1937 was “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman. You may remember this song from the movie “The Mask” among many other uses of this swing classic tune.

On October 20, 1946, it was all about slowing things down with Frankie Carle and his orchestra's “Rumors Are Flying.” Listen to this jam, it makes you want to fall in love after the depression or chase your wife around a Colorado hotel with an axe.

Finally, on November 7, 1999 we have a major change of pace here. We go from swing and orchestras to one of the greatest masterpieces in music history. “Smooth” by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas.

Random stats

The Lions are historically not that bad against the Rams. They’re 41-44-1 all time. They’re 18-22-1 when playing the Rams on the road. They’re 15-18-1 when playing in Los Angeles. The last time the Lions won in LA was October 24, 1993. The Lions play the Rams on October 24 of this year. Perhaps it’s an omen?

Worst memory

Let’s go all the way back to 2001. The Lions’ final Monday Night game at the Pontiac Silverdome—which perhaps not-so-coincidentally led to a 10-year hiatus from “Monday Night Football.” The Lions welcomed the eventual NFC Champion Rams to town and got beat every which way possible. The Lions went scoreless in a 35-0 route. Kurt Warner threw three touchdowns and Marshall Faulk ran one in. Ty Detmer and Charlie Batch combined for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. The Lions had no chance against this team.

Best memory

I’m getting personal again with this one. I went to the 2012 season opener against the Rams. After the 2011 season, we were sure the Lions were on their way to multiple playoff appearances and, eventually, a Super Bowl. We completely ignored how badly the Lions played in this game and erupted when Matthew Stafford threw the game-winning touchdown late in the game. We got on to the party bus with 38 other people and drunkenly sang “We Are The Champions” multiple times on the way home. The Lions won three more games that year.

Game dive

We’re going to dive a little deeper into that 2012 game. It really wasn’t pretty. Matthew Stafford threw the ball 48 times. He threw three interceptions, one of which was taken to the house by Cortland Finnegan. Joique Bell scored his first career touchdown early in the second quarter and Jason Hanson kicked two 40+ yard field goals.

It was Kevin Smith who made the difference for the Lions. He ran for 62 yards and a touchdown. In the pass game, he caught four balls for 29 yards and the game-winning touchdown 15 seconds left on the clock. The place went nuts and every Lions fan in the building got immediate amnesia about how bad the rest of the game was. Here are the highlights.

Pride of Detroit Direct

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Pride of Detroit Direct, with exclusive updates from Jeremy Reisman on the ground at Allen Park, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Lions analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.