“That play was talked about three series before that,” Linehan told detroitlions.com Monday. “We had talked about that play.”
Linehan said he didn’t think their chance to run it would come back up with 15 seconds remaining in the game, but he knew it had a shot to work when he saw the same coverage he did a few series previous when he and quarterback
“We were looking at the pictures on the sideline and one of the runs that we had that was a no gainer in the third quarter was against the exact same look,” he said. “It just goes to show you where (Stafford and Smith’s) mindset was and how tuned in and how on the same page they were.
“I really give Matt and Kevin a lot of credit to be tuned into that so when we called that play, he had a peak at Calvin, but as soon as he saw the defender turn his head and run to Calvin, Matt knew where the ball was going to go and both he and Kevin were on the same page.”
Linehan also spoke on a number of other topics relating to Sunday’s game and looking forward to next week’s game against the 49ers.
On Stafford’s three first-half interceptions: “I think one was a bad decision (the first). I thought one was probably bad ball placement (the second) and the other one the nickel played it better than he had the first three times we ran the play. Anytime you have an interception the quarterback is going to be accountable for it.”
On what he told Stafford after the third interception in the second quarter that was returned for a touchdown: “I told him to move on. They were jumping some (routes) and we were going to have to counter that and make adjustments. ‘They are playing certain routes this way so we have to make some route adjustments off of that.’ You have to be focused more on that than what just happened so that you can continue to play.
“I think Matt did a good job of that and used the mistakes as learning tools for the second half and it showed with how he played in the second half and second quarter.
On Stafford’s last two touchdown-leading drives: “That’s kind of the sign of a winner and a champion. We certainly want to be champions one day here and I don’t think there’s any question on Matthew’s ability to win. The last couple drives are about as good as I’ve seen.”
On opponents having to scheme against Stafford now: “He has to anticipate that people are going to play him a certain way now because they’ve seen him throw for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. I think people know now that they have to study that quarterback. They have to know what he’s doing and where he likes to go to and favorite formations and favorite targets and just be conscious of that. I thought besides the three interceptions, he did a magical job of going where he needed to.”
On running back Kevin Smith’s performance Sunday: “He stepped up and he’s worn a lot of hats for us so far. He’s been a ball carrier; we used him in check-downs; he’s doing a really good job in pass protection and chipping and helping on their defensive ends. Yeah, he had a couple drops, but he made a nice catch on the last play and it was not an easy catch … it was a little low. Just shows that Kevin is a winner and we can ask him to do a lot of things for us.”
On how the offensive line played vs. the Rams: “I thought they played a real complete game. They opened up the holes when we designed runs. They kept (Stafford) clean. The one and only sack could have been avoided, I thought. That was a complete game they played. I thought the offensive line came up with a great plan.”
On how fun it is to try and scheme against a defense as good as the 49ers’: “It’s fun. It’s also challenging because this is as good as you face defensively, coming up this week. You’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a better defense or a defense that’s played better than San Fran has last year, and really (Sunday). But that’s the great thing about it. We know the challenge is there and being able to step up and meet the challenge and have that opportunity is going to be a lot of fun for everyone.”
Want the inside scoop on the defense? Tim Twentyman also checked in with Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham this week.