By Josh Waitsman
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Lions 30-16 and advanced to 11-1 on the season. With the win the Rams clinch their division and currently have the number one playoff seed in the NFC.
Jared Goff struggled in the game when it came to accuracy. He completed just 17 of 33- just over 51 percent. Goff’s two worst mistakes of the game happened in the beginning of the fourth quarter when the Rams were only up by three points. He threw two passes in a row straight into the hands of Lions defenders that both should have been intercepted, and probably would have gone for a touchdown. Overall, Goff had one of his worst games of the year, but the Rams managed to win in spite of him. Grade: C-
What doesn’t make sense about Goff’s bad day, is the fact that the offensive line played very well against the Lions. In pass protection, mistakes were held to a minimum, and Goff’s two sacks could have been avoided. In run protection, running back Todd Gurley had huge holes to run through, and it was because of pancake block from guard Austin Blythe that allowed Gurley to score his first touchdown of the game.
A bad day for Goff meant a bad day for the receivers as well. They managed to get open on plays consistently, but because of his accuracy struggles, the stats don’t show it. No Rams player topped 100 receiving yards this game, but Brandin Cooks did hit the 1000 yard mark for the season. This makes Cooks the first player to have 1000 receiving yards in three straight seasons with three different teams.
The Rams offensive had to put up points somehow, and MVP candidate Todd Gurley took the brunt of that responsibility. He was fantastic against the lions, racking up 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns as well as gaining 30 more yards through the air. In addition to his skill, Gurley is the epitome of a team player. With just over two minutes left in the game Gurley broke free for what would have been a 38 yard touchdown, but instead he purposely went down at the two yard line so the Rams could take more time off of the clock.
Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett combined for 3 catches and 26 total yards in what was an underwhelming performance. As of late, Higbee and Everett have been more incorporated into the offense, especially with the injury to Cooper Kupp, but they were silenced against the Lions. They did block well for Gurley.
Defensive end Aaron Donald may be the best player in the league. He had two sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Defensive end Ndomakung Suh also played better than usual in the game, and he was able to pressure Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on several occasions. Stafford struggled to get the ball out of his hands, and the pressure generated by the defensive is the main reason why.
If the defensive line was the main reason Stafford struggled, the linebackers were another one. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and linebacker Cory Littleton both had a sack and five tackles for loss between them. Littleton’s sack came with less than two minutes left in the second quarter and it allowed the Rams to eventually score a field goal before the half ended.
Cornerback Aqib Talib was injured against the Los Angeles Chargers earlier in the season, but he played well in his return against the Lions. In fact the entire secondary played well, holding Stafford to under 300 yards passing while also coming down with an interception. Troy Hill’s interception came on the Lions last drive of the game and it sealed the Rams victory.
The Rams played well in kick and punt coverage, but they struggled to get much going on the return game. Punter Johnny Hekker punted extremely well the entire game and averaged over 50 yards per punt. Kicker Greg Zuerlein was 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 48 yards.
Offensively, the Rams were underwhelming despite scoring 30 points. Goff’s struggles were all too apparent against the Lions, and he might struggle down the road against better defenses. Defensively, this game was a huge boost for the Rams. Over the last few weeks, Los Angeles has given up over thirty points in most of their game, so holding Detroit to under twenty was a bid morale boost for the Rams defense. Grade: B
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org