ATLANTA – What looked like a convincing 30-16 victory for the Los Angeles Rams Week 13 in Detroit was anything but. The Rams led just 16-13 midway through the fourth quarter and their last two touchdown drives started in Lions' territory after a fumble and an onside kick.
The Lions' defense outperformed the high-flying Rams' offense most of the game. Quarterback Jared Goff finished with a quarterback rating of just 68.6 in the contest.
Rams offensive line coach Aaron Kromer made this comment to SI.com at the Super Bowl this week about that game: “I’ll be honest, that game really helped us grow, because it allowed us to notice some deficiencies we had.”
The Rams lost their next two games following the Detroit win, but got things back on track and haven’t lost since. They’ll match up against New England in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Going up against the Patriots and Bill Belichick's defense has brought that Week 13 game vs. the Lions back up for the Rams as they prepare for New England.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia cut his teeth in the coaching world with the Patriots, and the defense he brought over to Detroit is similar to the one Belichick still runs in New England.
View photos of cornerback Darius Slay and long snapper Don Muhlbach during the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
“You’re going to see some of the same schematics,” Rams veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth said of the Lions' defense he faced Week 13 and the one he’ll face Sunday in the Super Bowl. “I think that (Detroit) game helped teach us a little bit about the defense and know a little more. It’s definitely a game we can take some learning from and things we did good and things we did bad.”
The Lions did a terrific job counteracting the Rams’ outside zone running scheme and the play-action pass game they use off the run. Todd Gurley had just 73 rushing yards midway through the fourth quarter before Detroit got sloppy on a couple late runs after gifting the Rams a short field.
Rams guard Rodger Saffold said the Lions film from Week 13 was part of the prep for Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“Yes, definitely used that,” he said during Thursday’s Rams media availability at the Super Bowl. “Just because, like you said, it’s the same minds. Going against the Lions we were able to see a couple of those fronts and a couple of those situations of how they treat their defensive tackles and how they treat their linebackers. It’s been able to help out the o-line a lot.”
It's likely the Patriots have taken a look at that Week 13 tape, too, Goff acknowledged Thursday.
“You know that coach Patricia coming from the system is part of it and I’m sure they’re watching that tape,” he said.
The Lions did a good job changing their fronts and disguising their looks. The Rams face a similar style defense in New England, though the Patriots were statistically more talented than Detroit on that side of the ball.
The Rams are hoping that experience gained by playing a similar-style defense Week 13 in Detroit gave them some good things to study on film these past two weeks preparing for the Patriots.