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Recap: Detroit Lions’ bag of trick not enough to beat Stafford, Rams

The Lions put up one hell of a fight and pull out every stop, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Matthew Stafford.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions did just about everything they could to make this one interesting. They were not going to get blown out by the Los Angeles Rams without putting up one hell of a fight.

The Lions pulled out two fake punts and a surprise onside kick to try and get the offense moving against a solid Rams defense and to keep former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford off the field. The plan worked as the Lions jumped out to a 10-0 lead.

But when Stafford was on the field, the Lions had no answer for him. The franchise quarterback was especially lethal on third down, with the Rams converting on nine-of-12 attempts.

In the end, the Lions still had an opportunity to take the lead late, down six points with under five minutes left. However, Jared Goff—in his opportunity to take revenge—threw a red zone interception that sank the Lions for good. Despite another gutsy effort, the Lions fell to 0-7 with a 28-19 loss to the Rams.

Here’s how it happened:


Before the game kicked off, the Rams ran two short video tributes to Rams-turned Lions Michael Brockers and Jared Goff. (We only caught video of Goff).

First quarter

The Lions got the ball first and they finally put their early-game offensive woes to bed. On third-and-9, the Rams sent a full-out blitz, but the Lions responded with a perfectly-timed screen pass to D’Andre Swift. The Lions running back broke one tackle and broke it for a 63-yard touchdown. 7-0 Lions

The Lions, not eager to see Matthew Stafford in a Rams jersey, pulled off a surprise onside kick and recovered.

The Lions went three-and-out... but not quite out. Because the Lions continued with their bag of tricks with a fake punt as Jack Fox found Bobby Price for a 17-yard gain.

The Lions would pick up another first down before settling for a field goal and taking a 10-0 Lions lead.

Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t keep Stafford off the field forever. Detroit did not go back-to-back onside kicks and Stafford made them pay. On his second pass of the game, Stafford found Cooper Kupp for a 29-yard pass over Tracy Walker’s head. Detroit’s defense would get a red zone stop, though, as a pressured Stafford had to throw it away on third-and-4. Matt Gay kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 10-3 Lions.

The Lions' offense continued to move the ball downfield without the need for trick plays. Goff found Hockenson for a 21-yard gain, and Jamaal Williams followed it up with a 12-yard run to get the Lions in field goal position as the first quarter came to an end.

Second quarter

A holding penalty looked like it may threaten Detroit’s field goal range, but a third-and-17 draw play picked up 14 yards, setting up a 47-yard field goal from Austin Seibert.

The kick was good. 13-3 Lions.

The Lions' defense looked like they may have gotten off the field with a three-and-out, but Jerry Jacobs was called for a 32-yard pass interference penalty that look sketchy, at best. You be the judge:

The Rams picked up a few clutch third downs to extend the drive, including the touchdown-scoring pass to Van Jefferson on a third-and-7. 13-10 Lions.

If you were looking for a strong response from the Lions' offense here, you are going to be disappointed. After two failed screen passes, the Lions came up short on a third-and-15 and went three-and-out.

Stafford went right back to work, connecting on another big play to Kupp, this time for 27 yards. Then he connected with Robert Woods on a third-and-6 for 22 yards. A few plays later, the Stafford found Kupp for a 2-yard touchdown on a well-designed play (another third-down conversion). 17-13 Rams.

The Lions were able to run a fairly successful two-minute drill thanks to a couple of nice precisions passes from Goff, including a big 20-yard pass to Kalif Raymond. The Lions' drive would stall in the Rams' territory, but they set up Seibert for a successful 41-yard kick to bring it to a one-point game at halftime. 17-16 Rams.

Third quarter

The Lions’ defense got their first stop of the game on LA’s opening second-half possession. Tracy Walker laid the BOOM on Rams running back Darrell Henderson to break up a second-down pass, and Julian Okwara picked up the sack on third down.

The Lions didn’t look like they were going to take advantage of the Rams’ first punt, but then they reached back into their bag of tricks for a third trick play. This time, Detroit faked a punt by direct snapping to C.J. Moore for a 28-yard gain.

The Lions started to drive down the field, but then they got a little too gutsy. After D’Andre Swift was stuffed on a third-and-1, they lined up quickly to try it again on fourth-and-1. Swift got stuffed again, as the Lions passed on a 36-yard field goal to take the lead, and came up empty instead.

The Rams offense had a nearly identical situation. After getting stuffed on third-and-1, they went for it fourth-and-1 from midfield. But Stafford’s play-action rollout didn’t connect with Tyler Higbee and the Lions got the ball back at their own 46-yard line.

Detroit quickly got back into field goal range with a nice crossing route from Raymond that picked up 37 yards after a huge run after the catch. Goff and Swift had a miscommunication on third down, forcing the Lions to settle for a 31-yard field goal. Seibert nailed it for the Lions to take the lead again. 19-17 Lions.

Detroit’s defense was in yet another position to get off the field, but Stafford connected with Cooper Kupp on a huge 59-yard pass. Backup cornerback Daryl Worley had just taken over for AJ Parker, who appeared to suffer an upper-body injury just a few plays earlier. But the Lions did take the lead into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter

The Rams were able to convert yet another third down with a Stafford dart to Higbee for 14 yards on third-and-10. On the next play, Stafford continued to pick on Worley with this 4-yard touchdown pass to Kupp. A tacked-on two-point conversion made it a six-point game. 25-19 Rams.

The Lions countered with a long, methodical drive sprung by their running game. But when the Lions got into the red zone, Jared Goff tried to push the ball into tight coverage to T.J. Hockenson, and Rams corner Jalen Ramsey picked him off.

From there, the Rams were able to perfectly execute a five-minute drill, running out most of the clock, then tacking on a 47-yard field goal to put the game out of reach with just 58 seconds remaining. 28-19 Rams.

Goff would tack on another interception for good measure.

Onto the Eagles.

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