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Rams-Lions: Winners & Losers from Jared Goff’s return to LA

Matthew Stafford and Jalen Ramsey stepped up to lead the Rams to victory and to a 6-1 record on the season.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Los Angeles Rams picked up a Week 7 victory and moved to 6-1 on the season after defeating Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions 28-19.

This game was closer than most were expecting, and the Lions attempted to steal possessions and extend drives at every opportunity. The approach worked early in the game - Detroit jumped out to a 10-0 lead over LA. However, in the end, the level of talent on the Rams’ roster proved to be insurmountable for a Lions team that has lost a number of players due to injury.

LA did not flinch when the Lions took an early lead in the game, and there were a number of individual performances that helped right the course in order to keep a losing team losing.

Winners

Matthew Stafford, QB

The majority of the chatter ahead of the game focused on Goff’s return to Los Angeles and SoFi Stadium. But Matthew Stafford was also facing his former team, and he turned in a dazzling performance in the face of adversity.

Stafford completed 28 of 41 passes (68%) for 334 yards, 3 touchdowns, and had no turnovers. Rams running backs only tallied 49 yards rushing, but the quarterback shouldered the load and kept the offense on track.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Stafford’s outing against the Lions was that he attempted more passes than normal but never really put the ball in harm’s way. This was a surgical performance by LA’s signal caller.

Jalen Ramsey, CB

Jalen Ramsey was the tone-setter on defense Sunday afternoon, and he asserted his presence early and often in this matchup. Ramsey recorded a vicious hit on Goff that forced an incompletion on an early third down.

Ramsey also recorded a clutch interception in the fourth quarter that effectively ended the Lions’ comeback attempt. This is Ramsey’s second game-sealing interception on the 2021 season, as he also picked off Jacob Eason in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Also notable is the hit Aaron Donald put on Goff in order to apply pressure and force the interception to Ramsey.

Cooper Kupp, WR

You could put receiver Cooper Kupp on the “winners” list pretty much every week, but his performance against the Lions was one of his more well-rounded games in recent memory. Kupp took short receptions and added effective runs after the catch and he went deep and caught a 59 bomb from Stafford. Overall, he had 10 catches on 13 targets for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the season Kupp has now recorded 56 receptions for 809 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Van Jefferson, WR

Second-year receiver Van Jefferson was active early in the game for the Rams, and he was targeted 7 times for 4 catches, 43 yards, and a touchdown. The touchdown was particularly impressive, and this might be the best play Jefferson has made so far in his young career with the Rams.

Tyler Higbee, TE

Tyler Higbee did not light up the stat sheet against the Lions, but he made a handful of timely plays that kept the chains moving and kept the LA offense on schedule. The veteran tight-end has become a reliable threat on third down with Stafford at the helm.

Higbee was targeted 8 times and recorded 5 receptions for 46 yards.

Losers

Special Teams

The Rams special teams unit was a big reason why Detroit was able to jump out to a 10-0 lead, allowing an onside kick recovery after the Lions scored on their opening possession. LA’s special teams also gave up two first downs on fake punts, which brought a defense that was already finding it difficult to get off the field back onto it.

Rookie receiver Ben Skowronek was also tasked with kick return duties, but he it did not seem he was cut out for this role. It’s not necessarily fair to criticize the Rams for running the rookie out there, as they’ve already lost a number of kick returners to injury this season. Tutu Atwell has also had opportunities in this facet of the game, but his lack of size likely prevents him from being the primary option to return kicks.

Read: 4 tough questions facing Rams following struggles against Lions

Run Defense

Stopping the run was one of the more significant keys to the game for the Rams, as the Lions running backs are two of the better skill position plays on the offense. Detroit does not have the receiving options to lean on a volume passing attack, so production on the ground is how they stay on schedule and keep drives alive.

D’Andre Swift ran the ball 13 times for 48 yards (3.69 average) and recorded 8 receptions for another 96 yards and a touchdown. Jamaal Williams added another 57 yards on 12 carries (4.75 average).

Offensive Running Game

LA’s offense was unable to get much going on the ground, which put a lot of weight on its quarterback’s shoulders. Typically the Rams’ struggles in the running game on offense is a reluctance to commit to the ground attack; however, against Detroit the issue was just general ineffectiveness.

Darrell Henderson had 15 carries for 45 yards (3 average) and Sony Michel attempted 2 runs for 4 yards (2 average).

Detroit Lions v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images