DETROIT — The Detroit Lions were determined to keep Todd Gurley grounded.
Early on, it didn’t look like they would be successful because Gurley ran for 15 yards on the Los Angeles Rams’ first snap. After that, though, the running back had just 43 yards rushing on 13 carries, a key factor in Detroit’s 31-28 win over Los Angeles on Sunday.
He lost a yard on a play that proved to be pivotal.
The Rams went on fourth-and-1 at the Lions 1 on the last play of the first half instead of attempting a tie-breaking field goal. Gurley didn’t have a chance, getting hit by defensive tackles Tyrunn Walker and Stefan Charles.
“We won by three and we took seven off the board for them,” Walker said.
After Case Keenum’s second touchdown pass to Kenny Britt early in the fourth quarter, the Rams failed to gain a yard on their next drive. Keenum, who set a franchise record with 19 consecutive completions, threw an interception on the second play of their final possession.
“When it really counted at the end of the game, that’s when we should’ve come through,” Gurley said.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t mind that Keenum threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
“If we’re going to get beat, that’s how we’re going to get beat, rather than them running the ball down our throats,” Caldwell said.
Other things learned from Detroit’s win over Los Angeles:
TATE’S TURNAROUND: When the Lions (3-3) lost a third straight game earlier this month at Chicago, receiver Golden Tate only had a 1-yard reception in the entire game. “I’m kind of a forget-the-past guy,” he said. “Just keep grinding, just keep working.”
That approach served Tate well because he bounced back in last week’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He made three catches for 39 yards, including a reception that converted a third down and set up a winning kick. Tate showed that was just the start of his personal comeback because he had a season-high eight receptions for a career-high 165 yards and a touchdown against the Rams.
PACKING HEAVY: Instead of heading home, the Rams (3-3) planned to fly in the other direction to London for their next game against the New York Giants. The Rams have gotten used to being on the move this year, relocating from St. Louis to Los Angeles and bouncing around different venues for training camp and the practices during the regular season. “This team has been together almost like a training camp since April,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.
COMPLETING A CATCH: Britt, who had a season-high seven receptions for 136 yards, came up with a unique way to make a reception. Britt corralled a 47-yard pass with his right arm that was thrown over his left shoulder. The ball was jarred loose when Britt hit the turf, he squeezed it between his legs, lost it again and pinned the ball against his shoulder pads on a play that stood after review. “It’s all about the awareness of where the ball was at,” Britt said. “I felt it and knew where it was at the whole time.”
TIME HEALS: Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders hasn’t always been hailed in and around the Motor City. Fans used to be bitter that Sanders abruptly retired entering the 1999 season, and occasionally let him know it by booing him when given the opportunity. That has changed. Sanders easily got the loudest ovation when he was introduced on the field along with other teammates during a halftime ceremony that celebrated the Lions’ 1991 team that won the franchise’s only playoff game since winning the 1957 NFL title.
MAKING A MARK: Matthew Stafford was 23 of 31 for 270 yards, with a season-high four touchdowns. His 139.8 passer rating was the second highest of his career and the best by a Lions quarterback with at least 30 attempts in a game.