A. It was resilience, on offense and defense. Both units played as though they never gave any thought to the possibility of losing. That possibility was very real, but they played with the conviction that they’d get the job done.
A. They didn’t. In most situations, the ball never would have gone to Smith. Stafford went to him because all the other options were covered. Throwing to Smith out of the backfield wasn’t one of them.
“Kevin was the last option on that play – probably behind throwing it away,” is how coach Jim Schwartz described the play.
Q. How did the play unfold for Smith to become the receiver?
A. The ball was snapped with 15 seconds left in the game and started with a play-action fake to Smith.
Because of the time it would take to get the ball to him in most cases, that made Smith unavailable as a receiver.
“It’s the last option,” Raiola said. “It was a huge run sell.”
“I saw three guys back up toward Calvin,” said center
While Stafford was looking for a receiver, Schwartz knew the clock was running. He said he was yelling “throw it away” into the microphone on his headset, even though he knew Stafford could not hear him.
Finally, Smith popped free out of the backfield to Stafford’s right.
“He was wide open,” said Raiola, who got a good view of the end of the play.
The offensive line gave Stafford great protection, so he had enough time to hold the play until he saw an open receiver.
“They kept me clean all day,” said Stafford, who had one sack in the game.
Q. Early worry – the defense did a good job most of the game, but the Rams drove to a field goal on their first possession, and the defense didn’t get pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford.
Was there a concern about the defense early?
A. Yes, and for two reasons. The Rams converted two third downs into first downs, on third and eight and third and one. And they got both easily.
And the pass rush never got close to Sam Bradford. It was only one drive, and Bradford took short drops, but you’d expect the front four to come out smoking.
A. First things first. What they mean is don’t make judgments too early.
Fairley’s sack was huge. It came late in the second quarter, when the Rams had third and five at the six. He got through a gap to drop Bradford for a six-yard loss and force a field goal.
A field goal gave the Rams a 13-7 lead. It would have been 20-7 with a touchdown.
Suh’s sack came on the first possession of the second half and forced a punt. It set up a field goal for the Lions that made it 13-13.
Q. The defense – how did it perform?
A. It was good enough to win most of the time, with four sacks, one defensive TD allowed and holding Steven Jackson to 53 yards on 21 carries.
Q. Onside standoff: The Rams tried an onside kick late in the first half after scoring a TD for a 13-7 lead.
A. Absolutely the right move. The Rams got the go-ahead TD on Cortland Finnegan’s interception return. A penalty against the Lions’
The Lions were ready for it and got the ball at the 24 – a net gain of four yards.
It was a time when both teams did the right thing on the same play.
Q. Missed TD connection:
A. If it were baseball, the error would be on the catch, not the throw.
Pettigrew had to turn slightly to make the catch at the goal line, but he wasn’t bothered by a defender.
Q. Penalty punishment – Titus Young got an unsportsmanlike penalty on Cortland Finnegan’s TD return on an interception late in the first half. How did Schwartz react to it?
A. Obviously, he didn’t like it. Young was held out for the last series of the first half and the first series of the second quarter.
There was some pushing after the return, and Schwartz said he thought Young was going to walk away from it. Instead, he continued and got the 15-yard penalty, putting the Rams in position to try the onside kick.
“That wasn’t a smart thing,” Schwartz said.
Q. The replacements – how did the officials do in their first regular-season game?
A. They were barely noticed, which is a good thing. That gives them a passing grade – for one week.
Q. Bottom line – What does beating the Rams mean?
A. It means the Lions beat a team they were supposed to beat, and they’re 1-0, like they’re supposed to be.
There used to be times when the Lions were rebuilding and wound up on the other end of games like Sunday’s. They had to talk about building blocks and baby steps and a bunch of other stale hooey that losing teams are forced to digest.
Winning beats talking.