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Rams

Things you may have missed during the Rams’ 31-28 loss to the Detroit Lions

Here are a few things you might have missed from the Rams’ 31-28 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

FIRST QUARTER

Lions Coach Jim Caldwell showed a lot of faith in second-year pro Zach Zenner, who made his second career start with running backs Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington both out with injury. On fourth and one, Zenner picked up the first down with a two-yard gain. Zenner was clutch again later in the game with a 15-yard run on third and nine.

Lions right tackle Riley Reiff lost his helmet as he floored cornerback Troy Hill with a big block on Golden Tate’s 34-yard catch-and-run. Tate’s reception set up a seven-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones for the first score of the game.

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The Lions respected Case Keenum’s ability to pull the ball down and run early in the game, which made Kenny Britt’s 20-yard touchdown reception that much easier. Keenum rolled to his right as Britt ran a crossing route in the same direction. The Lions secondary caught on and was headed that way as well, but lost contact with Britt. He stopped and sat in the open space behind the defenders before making a catch and spinning into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. 

SECOND QUARTER

Todd Gurley had everyone thinking he was going to get the ball on first and goal from the one-yard line early in the second quarter. With Cory Harkey set to block for the Rams’ star running back, Gurley slammed into the teeth of the Lions defense, only for Keenum to keep the ball and run wide right for the touchdown. It was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Lions this season.

The odds were stacked against Matthew Stafford on his two-yard touchdown throw to Andre Roberts. First, the Lions were going for it on fourth and goal. Second, Stafford was within arm’s reach of defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ethan Westbrooks. Third, he was throwing off his back foot. And finally, Roberts was being blanketed by cornerback E.J. Gaines, who was flagged for pass interference. Still, Stafford completed the ball.

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THIRD QUARTER

The Lions were forced to punt twice in eight possessions. Their second kick — the only one that was returnable — was a 54-yard boot by Sam Martin in the third quarter, and it was returned two yards by Tavon Austin. The Rams also punted just twice, but both kicks were fair caught by the Lions.

 FOURTH QUARTER

Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner was pulled from the game because of a potential forearm injury just before Tate’s 23-yard touchdown reception. Tate, who was lined up on the same side where Joyner had been, cut inside to make the catch before bouncing outside for the score thanks to key blocks from tight end Clay Harbor and  receiver Anquan Boldin. The Lions converted five third downs on the the drive, thanks in part to safety Maurice Alexander, who picked up a pass-interference penalty on third and 12.

matt.wilhalme@latimes.com

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme


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