Rams receiver Bradley Marquez is tackled by Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead (58) and his teammate during the first half.(Kirthmon F. Dozier / TNS)
Lions receiver Golden Tate begins to celebrate after scoring a touchdown against the Rams during fourth quarter.(Leon Halip / Getty Images)
Matt Prater (5) kicks the game-winning, 34-yard field goal for the Lions late in the fourth quarter.(Paul Sancya / AP)
Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown with teammates.(Dave Reginek / Getty Images)
Rams’ Kenny Britt crosses the goal line for a fourth quarter touchdown as Quandre Diggs (28) of the Detroit Lions and Kerry Hyder (61) attempt to tackle him.(Leon Halip / Getty Images)
Lions strong safety Rafael Bush (31) intercepts a pass intended for Los Angeles Rams tight end Lance Kendricks during the second half.(Duane Burleson / AP)
Lions outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy pushes Rams running back Todd Gurley out of bounds during the second half.(Rick Osentoski / AP)
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford outruns Rams defensive end Eugene Sims during the second half.(Rick Osentoski / AP)
Rams’ Kenny Britt stretches out over the goal line for at touchdown against the defense of Darius Slay of the Lions during first quarter action.(Leon Halip / Getty Images)
Rams running back Benny Cunningham is pushed out of bounds by Detroit Lions outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy during the first half.(Paul Sancya / AP)
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams middle linebacker Alec Ogletree during the first half.(Duane Burleson / AP)
Rams wide receiver Brian Quick (83) is tacked by Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs during the first half.(Duane Burleson / AP)
Case Keenum of the Rams celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during first half action.(Leon Halip / Getty Images)
Lions’ Andre Roberts catches a touchdown against the Rams’ E.J. Gates during the first half.(Kirthmon F. Dozier / TNS)
Here are a few things you might have missed from the Rams’ 31-28 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme