Stafford can finally put the Lions behind him

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – Okay, let’s set the stage. The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions Week 7 football game at SoFi Stadium had a few plots to it. The Lions were winless through their first six games. The Rams, on the other hand, had been playing stellar with only one defeat through their first half dozen contests.

Desperate for a win, the Lions depended on trickery to make that happen. There were gimmick plays that were all over the place. Sitting a game behind the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, the Rams’ approach to Sunday’s meet-and-greet bordered on practicality along with some good defense.

It was the defense that head coach Sean McVay and the Rams banked on to secure a 28-19 win. After giving up an opening drive touchdown, the Rams held the Lions to just four field goals the rest of the way.

“Today, a lot of adversity that we had to overcome,” McVay said. “I thought the guys weathered the storm. A lot of credit to the Lions and Coach (Dan) Campbell. I thought Jared (Goff) did an excellent job being able to make his plays. I thought (D’Andre) Swift was outstanding.”

Oct. 24, 2021. Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) hands the ball off to running back D’Andre Swift against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

McVay continued, “They did a great job defensively, really, creating a lot of pressure and making it difficult on us to kind of, you know, finish all those drives with touchdowns. Especially in the second half. But we came away with the win. I was really, really pleased with the guys in crunch time.” 

Of course, there is a matter called motivation that lingered over this game as well. Detroit quarterback Jared Goff was not too happy when the Rams traded him in the offseason to the Lions. So playing his former team may have given Goff the moxie to go that extra mile to beat the Rams.

With the game on the line and the fourth quarter winding down in time, Goff may have tried a little too hard to do that to achieve that goal. Trailing 25-19, Goff and the Lions were in scoring position as they made their way unto the Rams side of the field.

Then with less than five minutes remaining in the game, instead of the dink and dunk approach that the Lions had taken to drive down the field, Goff instead chose to go for all the marbles, flinging an ill-advised pass into the endzone that had no chance of landing into the hands of one of his intended targets.

Unsurprisingly, the football found its way into the hands of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey for an interception after defensive lineman Aaron Donald forced Goff to get rid of the football more quickly than he wanted with some extreme pressure. That was the ballgame. Goff gave Donald and Ramsey their props after the game.

“He made a great play and so did (CB) Jalen (Ramsey),” Goff said. “Those two guys are the best at their position for a reason. They made a great play on us. If I had to do it again, probably throw it out of the end zone, but that’s the look we wanted, a play we wanted, and unfortunately, I got hit on it.”

Oct. 24, 2021. Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) steps in front of Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) for the interception late in the fourth quarter. Ramsey’s interception of a Jared Goff pass preserved the Rams’ 28-19 win at SoFi Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

When he left Detroit, first-year Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford got a reprieve from languishing on a team going nowhere fast. Stafford is considered to be an MVP candidate now on a team that may reach the Super Bowl.

Goff is viewed to be a pedestrian quarterback these days after once leading the Rams to the Super Bowl himself. The former No. 1 overall draft pick by the Rams in the 2016 NFL Draft had his opportunities to ring up the scoreboard against his former team but could not quite get it done.

On one third down in red zone territory, Goff had an open receiver in the flat (D’Andre Swift) who would have scored easily if his quarterback had gotten the ball to him with a pinpoint pass. With no Rams defender within five yards of his target, Goff threw the ball behind and down in the turf towards the intended receiver.

Instead of Detroit getting a sure-fire touchdown, the Lions had to settle for a short field goal. The field goal towards the end of the third quarter gave Detroit a 19-17 lead. A touchdown would have given the visitors a six-point lead instead. On the previous drive, Goff and Detroit were banging on the soring door again, having lined up inside the red zone.

Goff and the Lions left points on the board as the Rams defense snuffed out the series with a fourth-down stoppage. The Rams defense then gave Goff a final rude message when Ramsey picked him off.

“I felt like he (Goff) was under duress,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. “(He was) not able to throw that football like we needed him to. (Rams CB Jalen) Ramsey made a hell of a play too. It’s just, you can go a whole game, and all of a sudden, something like that happens and it’s too much. It’s too good of a football team.”

Oct. 24, 2021. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks downfield for an open receiver against the defense of the Detroit Lions. Stafford passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams’ 28-19 win at SoFi Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Stafford, who threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the win, showed why the Rams traded for him. He made the short pass. He went deep when he wanted to. All in a day’s work.

On the surface, the obvious storyline in the NFL’s Week 7 matchup between the Rams and the Lions was the trade that sent Goff packing his bags and the ex-Cal star taking his talents to the Motor City.

Stafford, who spent 12 years of his NFL career with the Lions, brought his strong right arm to Southern California. The Rams and Lions made the trade for their respective quarterbacks early this spring. By getting Stafford, the Rams have a quarterback who can make all the throws.

The 13-year NFL veteran has been an upgrade at the position over Goff. So far, things have worked out pretty well in the Rams’ favor. Stafford entered the Lions game ranked as the No. 6 passer in the league and gives the Rams the vertical passer they had lacked from Goff.

After his performance against the Lions, Stafford is now the Now. 3 QB in the league as far as stats are concerned. Now that this game is officially in the books, Stafford can now move on with the rest of the season.

“I’m just trying to make sure that I’m as prepared as I can every single day to help us win,” remarked Stafford. “Am I happy it’s over with? Yeah. You know, I got a lot of great friends, a lot of people I care about that are on that team or from that city, and just glad to have this one over with. Can put the storylines away and just go out and play football the rest of the year and just enjoy it.”

Featured Image Caption: Oct. 24, 2021. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) had a good day against his former team. Stafford passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams’ 28-19 win against the Detroit Lions at Sofi Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline