In the first duel between the two teams in Detroit since the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles and Jared Goff to Michigan, the Lions had the final say over the Rams 24-23 on Sunday to win their first playoff game since 1992.
Goff racked up 277 yards on a touchdown pass against a team he preferred to throw away in 2020, and David Montgomery and Jahmir Gibbs set the tone with a rushing touchdown in the first quarter and the Lions ended a nine-game playoff losing streak.
This is the first time the Lions have hosted two playoff games in the same season, with the Tampa Buccaneers or Philadelphia Eagles being their next opponent next Sunday.
“It means a lot to this city,” Goff said. We knew what that meant when the team was heading toward the playoffs during the season, so winning this game now. You know, this is just the beginning for us. »
On the first offensive sequence, Montgomery put the exclamation point with a touchdown on the 10th play.
When the Lions' offensive unit returned to the field after a Rams field goal, this time, it was Gibbs who stood out. A 10-yard run allowed him to cross the end zone and make the score 14-3 in favor of the home team.
As Lions fans saw many times during his 12 seasons as Detroit's quarterback, Stafford once again proved his toughness in this game.
He first suffered a torn right hand when he collided with an opponent's helmet while throwing a pass late in the first quarter.
Stafford was far from his troubles. He visited the medical tent after suffering violent contact following a pass at the end of the third quarter. He was tackled forcefully for the first time by star defender Aidan Hutchinson before being hit in the head by tackle Aleem McNeil while in a vulnerable position. As if that wasn't enough, Hutchinson landed his foot on Stafford's right shoulder while the Rams quarterback was on the ground.
Despite that mishap, Stafford didn't even miss a play and was in position on the Rams' next sequence, which ended with a Brett Maher field goal that cut the deficit to 24-23 with 8:10 on the dial. However, the Rams were unable to complete the comeback and the Lions won their first playoff game since defeating the Dallas Cowboys on January 5, 1992.
“I wouldn't want anyone other than Matthew Stafford to be our quarterback,” McVay said. It was great. He was making one tough shot after another, people were attacking him and he kept completing passes. »
Stafford finished the game with 367 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Puka Nacua, who set an NFL record for a rookie with 181 yards.
Nacua notably caught a 50-yard touchdown pass that cut the Lions' lead to 14-10 early in the second quarter.
But, another offensive sequence for the Lions, and another touchdown for Detroit after this play, Goff also wanted to have his say against his former team. He started the game with 10 straight completions before missing his first attempt. On the fourth attempt at the gate, Detroit showed its aggressiveness and it all paid off.
Sam Laporta was doubtful for the game due to a knee injury, as he collected a pass from the midfielder which resulted in his team taking an 11-point lead.
“Jared was very effective,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. You can see how well he led his troops. I'm happy for him. We wanted this win, but he did a very good job. »
But the Rams were able to keep up with their opponents. Facing a fourth-and-goal five yards up the middle, Stafford completed a pass to Cooper Kupp on the first play, and the quarterback followed with another pinpoint pass, this time to Tutu Atwell, the latter finishing his drive for another 38 yards. with a somersault to celebrate the six points he added to the scoreboard.
The Lions' defense then limited the Rams offense to two field goals in the second half and Goff put the finishing touches by completing a pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown for a first down, ending Los Angeles' hopes with two minutes left.
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