INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Detroit Lions pulled out all the stops, successfully executing a surprise onside kick and two fake punts, but it still wasn't enough to topple the heavily favored Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
In Matthew Stafford's first game against his former team, the quarterback threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns, including the 300th of his career, as the Rams squeaked by the Lions, 28-19.
The Lions did manage to shake their season-long scoring struggles in the first half, starting with D'Andre Swift taking a screen pass 63 yards for an opening-drive touchdown. On the third-and-9 play, Swift picked up key blocks from guard Jonah Jackson and wide receiver Geronimo Allison, springing him into the open field.
Detroit immediately came back with an onside kick, catching the Rams off-guard as the ball ricocheted off linebacker Troy Reeder's hands on the bounce and was recovered by Lions safety Tracy Walker. Then, when the drive appeared to quickly stall, punter and former high school quarterback Jack Fox surprised the Rams with a pass to gunner Bobby Price for the fourth-down conversion. That lead to a 37-yard Austin Seibert field goal and a quick 10-0 lead for the Lions.
The Rams responded with three points of their own after Stafford found top target Cooper Kupp for a 29-yard gain near the left sideline. Lions safety Will Harris did limit the damage to the field goal by bumping running back Darrell Henderson off his route on a Stafford pass into the end zone on third down.
Detroit extended its advantage back to double-digits with a nice series to start the ensuing possession. Tight end T.J. Hockenson gained 21 yards to open the drive, followed by a pair of runs by Jamaal Williams that added 17 more.
The Lions eventually lined up to go for it on fourth down deep in Rams territory, but after failing to draw the defense offside, settled for a 47-yard Seibert field goal, extending the lead to 13-3 early in the second quarter.
Aided by a questionable pass interference penalty against undrafted rookie Jerry Jacobs on third down, Stafford connected with receiver Van Jefferson for a 11-yard touchdown over the coverage of Jacobs to quickly draw the Rams within three.
After forcing the Lions to punt, the Rams managed to take their first lead of the game behind a couple of explosive passing plays. Kupp got free for a 27-yard gain running a corner pattern against rookie cornerback AJ Parker before Robert Woods picked up 22 more on a crosser that beat Detroit's third-down blitz.
Again facing a third down at the shadow of the goal line, Stafford found Kupp on a 2-yard slant with 1:23 remaining in the half for the 300th touchdown of his career, drawing him even with John Elway for 12th on the all-time list.