Feb. 26, 2019
Lions Look: Rams Clinch NFC West Title
One of the NFC's best proved it on this day.
The Los Angeles Rams were a victory away from winning their second straight division crown, coming off both their bye and their win in a Monday Night classic over the Kansas City Chiefs 2 weeks ago. The Detroit Lions were trying to get back on the winning track after their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Chicago Bears. Where the Rams were coming into Ford Field rested and healthy, the Lions were cobbling together a receiving unit thanks to injuries.
The fourth quarter made the difference.
The Rams defense, led by league MVP candidate DE Aaron Donald, would get a crucial strip sack of Detroit's Matt Stafford that became a turnover. That takeaway would ultimately turn into a Todd Gurley rushing touchdown, the second one for him today, that would give the Rams an insurmountable lead and deliver the NFC West championship. While QB Jared Goff had an average day, his teammates would be instrumental in today's result. Donald would pick up 2.0 sacks along with the havoc he wrecks with opposing offensive lines. Gurley would rush for 132 yards and 5.7 yards per attempt along with those 2 TD's to put the offense over the top. The Rams' win, along with winning the division, improved to a league best 11-1. This puts the Curly Horns with their destiny in their hands, as earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC can give them a big edge in going to the Super Bowl. While only time will tell if this does occur, the Rams have taken the first step.
For the Lions, they find themselves on the precipice of going into a tailspin. This is their fifth loss in six games, sliding to 4-8. Stafford was credited with 2 turnovers (lost fumble & interception) while being sacked 4 times. His lone touchdown pass was to tackle Taylor Decker. The defense turned in a solid effort, but the ineffectiveness of the Lions' offense in scoring points just left the D on the field for too long without a lead to protect. The criticism will mount on Stafford due to his paycheck and profile, on head coach Matt Patricia due to the expectations of a coach brought in replacing someone who put together 4 winning seasons out of the last 5, and on general manager Bob Quinn for hiring Patricia, paying Stafford, and the talent (or lack thereof) on the roster and coaching staff. The heat will only increase if the losses to mount.
Next up, the Lions travel to Phoenix to play the Arizona Cardinals. While the Cards are rebuilding, the Lions have not won in the Copper State since 1994. This game will be a contest, no question.