Sunday, September 9, 2012
Wrap-up: Lions 27, Rams 23
By Kevin Seifert
A few thoughts on Sunday's wild events at Ford Field:
What it means: The Detroit Lions avoided a home upset to what is clearly a better St. Louis Rams team than anyone was anticipating. All's well that ends well, of course, and the Lions start 1-0 for the second consecutive season.
StaffordWatch: Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions in his first 21 attempts but finished the game with the sixth fourth-quarter comeback victory of his young career. He finished the game with an 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to tailback Kevin Smith with 15 seconds remaining. Stafford finished with 355 yards and showed us the late-game gumption that has endeared him to fans around the country. According to pro-football-reference.com, it was Stafford's seventh game-winning drive (from either a tie or a deficit).
What I liked: The Lions didn't play for overtime after getting the ball to the Rams' 26-yard line with 35 seconds left. Stafford threw for 3 yards to tight end Tony Scheffler and then completed an 18-yarder to receiver Calvin Johnson. That set up the Lions at the 5-yard line. Stafford spiked the ball once before finding Smith all alone in the flat for the score.
What I didn't like: The Rams sure seemed to have a bead on the Lions' passing offense in the first half. Stafford did not appear to anticipate cornerback Janoris Jenkins being in place on his first interception, and the other two featured nice anticipatory plays by Rams defenders. That means Stafford either made three very poor decisions, or the Rams crossed him up. I'm going to guess at least two of the three fell in the latter category. The Lions will have to look closely at the tape.
DisciplineWatch: Receiver Titus Young appeared to be benched for several series after a post-play head butt earned him a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter. Young is one of the players the Lions hoped had matured after last season's well-chronicled post-play issues.
SackWatch: The Lions' defensive tackles had an active day. Nick Fairley's third-down sack forced a field goal in the second quarter. Ndamukong Suh had a sack, and Corey Williams forced Rams quarterback Sam Bradford into a fumble.
What's next: The Lions have a tough trip to play the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on "Sunday Night Football."