5 things we learned in Lions win over Rams
Five things we learned in the Lions 27-23 win over the St. Louis Rams:
1. Kevin Smith played a stellar game and not just because he scored a pair of touchdowns. He pass protected, he had tackles on two of the interceptions and he ran the ball effectively. He rushed for 62 yards, but they were effective yards. In the 80-yard fourth-quarter drive that led to Smith’s five-yard run for a score, he also had a 13-yard scamper on a first down. He answered some of the questions about the Lions’ running game. If he can stay healthy he will be a huge factor in the offense.
2. Matthew Stafford is human and will throw interceptions. His experience paid dividends. Prior to Sunday, he had five career games where he had thrown three or more interceptions and was 0-5 in those contests. He is a comeback kid and afterward said there’s nothing more fun in the NFL than a two-minute drive.
3. Ndamukong Suh’s sustained pressure on Sam Bradford was one reason the Rams offense just couldn’t get much going. They only had 251 net yards and one of their touchdowns was an interception returned for a touchdown. Suh who had one sack wasn’t alone, the defensive line had a solid game. Nick Fairley and Corey Williams also sacked Bradford. Just like last year, there was a heavy rotation on the defensive line with the second group on the field in several key situations.
4. Titus Young still has some growing up to do after an after-the-whistle head butt penalty. Coach Jim Schwartz didn’t seem as upset about it as I would have expected. Overall the Lions only had three penalties compared to seven for the Rams. Doug Hogue was penalized for illegal formation and rookie Jonte Green for holding. Penalties were an area of concern heading into this season. It was a good start on Sunday, except for Young.
5. The secondary — minus two starters in Louis Delmas and Chris Houston — performed beyond expectations. They lost starter Bill Bentley in the third quarter due to concussion-like symptoms and still it worked. They gave up just one ball of more than 20 yards that was a 23-yard touchdown to Brandon Gibson. Cornerback Drayton Florence said afterward there’s plenty of work to do but some of the guys had just been together for four practices. The team is hush-hush about injuries so no way to know if Delmas and Houston will be ready for Sunday’s game at San Francisco. Houston said last week he’s day to day.
(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her new book, “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)