Matthew Stafford passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns against his former team, and Jalen Ramsey made an end zone interception with five minutes left in the Los Angeles Rams‘ 28-19 victory over Jared Goff and the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Goff passed for 268 yards and nearly led the Lions (0-7) to an upset win in his first meeting with the Rams (6-1), who traded him for Stafford in a blockbuster deal last winter.
The Rams led 25-19 when Goff drove the Lions to the Los Angeles 12 in the waning minutes while converting four third downs on an excellent drive. But Ramsey came up with his latest game-changing play on his 27th birthday when he picked off an errant throw by Goff, who was being hit by the Rams’ other 2020 All-Pro, Aaron Donald.
Cooper Kupp had 10 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams, including the go-ahead score with 13:59 to play. Van Jefferson also caught a scoring pass from Stafford, who has 19 TD throws in his first seven games on the West Coast.
D’Andre Swift made a 63-yard catch-and-run TD on the opening possession for the Lions, who lost their 11th straight game despite jumping to a double-digit lead in a rare strong start. Kalif Raymond had six catches for 115 yards.
Austin Seibert kicked four field goals in a superb special teams game for the Lions, who also recovered an early onside kick and ran two successful fake punts.
But the Rams kept Goff’s offense out of the end zone in the final 57 minutes as they rallied from an early double-digit deficit and improved to 42-0 with a halftime lead under coach Sean McVay.
Goff still hasn’t won an NFL start without McVay as his head coach, falling to 0-14.
The Lions had gone scoreless in the first half three times in their last four games, but their opening drive produced their first touchdown in the first half since Week 2. Goff read a blitz and threw a short screen pass to Swift, who scampered through the Rams’ secondary for his TD.
Detroit then got to snap the ball with a lead for the first time all season when it embarrassed the Rams’ special teams on two fakes, recovering an onside kick three plays before punter Jack Fox completed a fourth-down pass.
When Stafford finally got to touch the ball, he efficiently led three scoring drives in the first half capped by TD throws to Jefferson and Kupp, who had seven catches for 78 yards before halftime.
Detroit took a 19-17 lead late in the third quarter after stopping the Rams’ offense on downs, but Stafford converted two long third downs before finding Kupp for a TD early in the fourth. Robert Woods, who had six catches for 70 yards, took in the 2-point conversion for a 25-19 lead.
Goff spent his first five NFL seasons with the Rams, while Stafford played his first 12 seasons with the Lions. They swapped teams last winter in the trade triggered by Stafford’s desire to play for a contender and the Rams’ belief Goff couldn’t take them to the next step after four winning seasons, three playoff berths, two Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl appearance.
Goff was openly disappointed by the trade, and McVay acknowledged he did a poor job handling the departure of his franchise quarterback. McVay and Goff didn’t greet each other on the field during pregame warmups, but Goff and Lions defensive tackle Michael Brockers had warm reunions with many of their former Rams teammates, as did Stafford with the remaining Lions from his tenure.
Goff and McVay embraced after the game, with McVay slapping his former quarterback’s helmet after their chat.
Rams: Rookie CB Robert Rochell injured his knee in the first half.
Lions: LB Trey Flowers injured his knee in the second half. … DB AJ Parker injured his shoulder in the second half.
Lions: Host Eagles on Sunday.
Rams: At Texans on Sunday.