Burning Questions – A day of strange plays and misplays with an expected result – a 30-16 victory for the Los Angeles Rams over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field Sunday:
Question: Was it really an "expected result," and if it was, what did the game show?
Answer: Yes, it was an expected result. Hardly anybody picked the Lions to win.
The bottom line: The better team won, and the Rams probably were the better team Sunday by more than the final margin of 14 points.
From the beginning, the Lions did everything they had in their limited arsenal to make a game of it, and they couldn't do it. The Rams had more firepower, and the Lions helped the Rams by misfiring on their own.
The Lions did some things well, especially on defense. And they did some things poorly -- especially on offense.
It can't be stated too strongly that they just weren't good enough.
Q. Tacking chances: Any surprise that the Lions tried gimmick plays?
A. I didn't predict them, but it shouldn't have been surprising. Among them were two onside kicks, both of which failed, and a pass to offensive tackle Taylor Decker that went for a touchdown.
Q. Offense, defense: Which one had a better day?
A. The defense. It held the Rams in check until late in the game and produced two turnovers – an interception and a fumble recovery – that gave the Lions a chance.
The offense continued to be an impediment, not an asset. Matthew Stafford had another costly fourth-quarter turnover on a lost fumble, and there were play calls – especially – in the running game that didn't make sense. Worst of all was an overall lethargy on the part of the offense.
Q. Suh boos: Surprised that fans booed Ndamukong Suh from the first time his name was mentioned on the stadium loudspeaker?
A. Not at all. Fans cheered for him in his seasons with the Lions, but it changed when he left to sign with Miami as a free agent in 2015. Some fans are still upset that Barry Sanders retired in 1999 after 10 seasons.
Suh is not in the same class as Barry Sanders in any category except the size of his contracts.
Q. Lions, D win: Was it a defensive win for the Lions to hold the Rams to a field goal on their second possession? They'd drive from their 20 to the 12 with first and goal but got no further than the six. They settled for the field goal and a 3-0 lead after an incomplete pass in the end zone on third down.
A. Yes. To put it in some perspective, the Rams had a 13-3 lead over the Chiefs after the first quarter of their last game. Keeping the Rams out of the end zone in any quarter is an accomplishment.
When the first quarter ended, the Lions were in position to kick a tying field goal or a go-ahead touchdown.
Q. Play call shovel pass: Right call by the Lions to try the shovel pass on third and two at the Rams' seven-yard line? The play failed and the Lions were forced to kick a field goal that made it 3-3?
A. Not much else was working for the offense in the first half, so it's hard to criticize the play. The play was more a reflection of what the offense lacks in terms of playmakers than any particular play call in that situation.
The Rams read the play and threw Bruce Ellington for a three-yard loss. It was the first possession of the second quarter, and there were more bad plays to come – some worse than the shovel pass.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 13 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Q. Play call, first and run: Right call by the Lions to run the ball on first and goal at the Rams' four-yard line in the third quarter?
A. Not what I would have done, especially based on how the Rams' defense had hammered the run to that point. Blount had eight carries for 16 yards before that play. After that play – a five-yard loss – it was nine carries for 11 yards.
Q. Officials call, interference: After the run, TJ Jones caught a nine-yard pass in the end zone for a touchdown – but it was called back because of offensive pass interference. Right call by the officials?
A. It looked like the right call. Jones made contact with cornerback Marcus Peters with his arm extended. That's almost always called pass interference, and it was on that play. No problem with the call.
Q. Coach's call, onside kicks: After the penalty on Jones, the Lions ultimately settled for a field goal. The Lions tried an onside kick. It failed. Right decision by head coach Matt Patricia?
A. Questionable, because of the risk. It never had a chance to work because of a very poor kick by Sam Martin. The ball traveled only seven yards – three short of the required 10 yards to be legal.
The Rams took advantage of a short field to drive to a field goal that extended their lead to 16-6.
Q. Trick play, Lions TD: How big of a surprise was it that Decker caught an 11-yard TD pass late in the third quarter that cut the Rams' lead to 16-13?
A. It must have been a surprise because the Rams sideline questioned the officials about whether Decker had reported as an eligible player. It was a legal play, and a legal touchdown by the Lions.
It took a trick play for them to get to the end zone.
It was that kind of game for the offense.