FIRST DOWN: RESURGENT TATE
Golden Tate sat in front of his locker three days after catching just one pass for one yard in a Week 4 loss in Chicago, and said he was going to start trusting in his ability more and playing like he had something to prove.
Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter helped him out last week by getting creative with the way he used Tate. All of the sudden, Tate started to wake from his month-long slumber to open the season.
Tate broke out in a big way in Sunday's 31-28 come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field.
He caught eight passes for a career-high 165 yards, including the game-tying 23-yard touchdown with six minutes left in the game.
"We are putting a lot on his plate, mentally," quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Tate. "He's in the backfield. He's motioning across. He's running all the typical receiver routes. He's doing a bunch for us and doing it really well.
"Today was awesome. I was really happy for him. The guy has been working his tail off the last two weeks."
The Rams were shifting a lot of coverage toward Marvin Jones Jr., playing two defenders to his side and playing off Tate. Tate made them pay.
The performance was Tate's first 100-yard game since Week 10 of 2014, when he had 109 yards vs. Miami.
The Lions needed every one of those 165 yards from Tate to eek out a win and improve to 3-3 on the season.
SECOND DOWN: CONSISTENT STAFFORD
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said his team seems to have gotten comfortable being uncomfortable.
For the second straight week, they had to pull off a come-from-behind win. Stafford has seemed very comfortable putting this team on his back the last couple weeks, and guiding them to go-ahead scores late.
He was simply brilliant this week against a good Rams defense. He finished 23-of-31 passing for 270 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 139.8.
He now has 14 touchdowns vs. just four interceptions through six games, and is completing 69 percent of his passes for an overall passer rating of 106.0 on the season.
"We did a nice job putting the ball in the end zone against a really talented group," Stafford said. "I don't think any situation is too tough for us. You know, whether it's Week 1 in that situation that we had to come from behind and win, or these late fourth-quarter comebacks that we had these last couple weeks, we just seem to rise to the occasion and play really well.
"It was a good, hard-fought football game. That's the NFL and it comes down to the fourth quarter more often than it doesn't. You've got to make the plays to win it and we were able to do that."
In all three Lions wins this season, Stafford has guided a comeback in the fourth quarter. Sunday was the 23rd such win of his career.
THIRD DOWN: LOOSE DEFENSE
The Lions came into this game with one direct goal on defense: Stop Rams running back Todd Gurley.
"We didn't want to let Gurley break our back, which we did," Caldwell said of Gurley's 58 rushing yards on 14 carries. "We wanted to let somebody else beat us. If they're going to beat us, they're going to beat us throwing or something of that nature."
That nearly happened as Rams quarterback Case Keenum and receiver Kenny Britt were terrific for Los Angeles, but for a second-straight week the Lions defense was able to make critical plays at critical moments late in the game.
Darius Slay made a terrific play on a 3rd down pass intended for Britt on the possession immediately following Tate's game-tying score. It forced a Rams punt and set up the game-winning field goal on the next Lions possession.
Veteran Rafael Bush sealed the game with an interception with a minute left, just like Darius Slay did a week ago against Philly.
And don't forget the goal-line stand to end the first half.
Keenum finished 27 of 32 passing for 321 yards and four total touchdowns, and Britt had 136 receiving yards and two touchdowns, but it was the Lions who found a way to make plays late in the game.
"Guys made big plays in big moments," Stafford said. "Slay did a good job on one third down getting the pass breakup. And then Bush with a great pick to seal it. Those are big plays.
"The (defensive stand) right before the half was a huge play. We were making critical plays and doing a good job of that."
FOURTH DOWN: FOURTH DOWN
Yes, you read that correctly. Today's fourth down is ... fourth down. There were a number of critical fourth-down plays that helped decide the outcome in this one.
First was a 4th and 1 for the Lions at the Los Angeles 49-yard line on their first possession of the game. Zach Zenner was able to power his way through the line for two yards and the first down.
"I just think you have to commend our guys for standing up to the challenge, because it's not easy to get one yard in the National Football League," Caldwell said. "It's a difficult task, and I think our guys upfront did a nice job."
Three plays later the Lions scored on a 7-yard touchdown reception from Jones.
Late in the second quarter, the Lions faced a 4th and goal from the Rams 2-yard line trailing 14-7. Caldwell opted to go for it once again and was rewarded when Stafford found Andre Roberts for a touchdown. Roberts made the catch despite being interfered with.
"It's not any different than we've always done it," Caldwell said. "We've always kind of, taken those opportunities when we thought they were there. We go after it, we try to be prudent with it.
"But, like I tell you, if you check it we've probably been in the upper echelon a number of times when we go for it on fourth down since I've been here."
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher made the decision to go for a 4th and goal at the Lions 1-yard line with four seconds remaining in the first half. Instead of taking the field goal and potentially a 17-14 lead at the half, Fisher went for it and the Lions stuffed Gurley for 1-yard loss to end the half.
On Sunday, all the fourth downs went the Lions way.