DET-STL Grades: Gurley‘s Monster Second Half Propels Rams
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams’ 21-14 win over the Lions:
St Louis Rams
– Although the St Louis pass rush appeared to create pressure on almost every play against Detroit, it was basically Aaron Donald (+6.9) alone. The Rams racked up four sacks and three quarterback hits yesterday and Donald recorded all but one of those sacks and all three hits. In addition, he also had two quarterback hurries and five defensive stops, leading his team in both categories. The fact that his grade was a bit lower than in other weeks was mainly due to the fact that, surprisingly, he did not have as much success against the Detroit offensive line in the running game than when he was rushing the passer.
– After missing the last two games, Trumaine Johnson (+4.5) came back in style against Detroit as he earned the second-highest grade of his career. While his interception return touchdown was undoubtedly the highlight of his afternoon, Johnson made several other good plays. He could have easily had another interception, but his pass defense against Eric Ebron in the fourth quarter was still impressive. He also flashed quickness and good closing speed when he stopped Theo Riddick coming out of the backfield on a swing pass for a two-yard gain. Johnson surrendered two receptions and 10 yards on five targets and allowed a passer rating of only 8.3.
– While he wasn’t impressive initially, running back Todd Gurley (+2.5) took over the game in the second half. The rookie running back was able to break off the long runs that we have been waiting for from him over the last few weeks. Four of Gurley’s 16 carries went for more than 15 yards and he gained a total of 110 yards on these runs, which represented 78.6% of his total for the day. Once he found the rhythm that he has been missing in the last few weeks, it was almost impossible for the first defender to tackle Gurley, who averaged 5.44 yards after contact. What might be the scariest for opponents is that Gurley was just as productive inside the tackles (7.9 yards per carry) as he was when he cut outside (10.6 yards per carry).
DT Aaron Donald (+6.9)
CB Trumaine Johnson (+5.2)
RB Todd Gurley (+2.5)
LG Garrett Reynolds (+2.0)
DT Nick Fairley (+1.6)
– It seemed like quarterback Matthew Stafford (-4.8) found his old self after he earned positive grades in consecutive weeks coming into this game; however, against the Rams, we saw the bad Stafford. He really struggled in stretching the defense and completing passes downfield as he went three of 10 on passes going 10 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The most notable mistake was probably Stafford’s interception when he forced the ball to Calvin Johnson (-1.2) and allowed cornerback Trumaine Johnson (+4.5) to undercut the receiver’s route, which led to an interception return touchdown. However, the quarterback had at least one other similar play when he escaped pressure coming from the St Louis front seven only to force a pass to Eric Ebron (-0.8) without noticing the lurking Johnson between him and the tight end and was lucky that Johnson dropped his second interception.
– Calvin Johnson’s (-1.2) streak of catching a pass in every NFL game he ever played in was shown several times during the broadcast, mainly because he did not have a single reception until the last minutes of the game. As a result, some may have started to criticize play calling and call for most passes going Johnson’s way. However, Johnson was targeted several times by quarterback Matthew Stafford (-4.8), they just could not find the rhythm early on. Johnson was targeted a total of four times before his reception; however, cornerback Trumaine Johnson (+4.5) just got the better of him and did not let Johnson catch any of the three passes going his way while the cornerback was covering him. On the occasion when Stafford finally found the wide receiver with the ball, Johnson dropped the pass. Overall, Matthew Stafford had a passer rating of 0.8 yesterday when targeting Johnson.
– Darius Slay (-0.1) has been playing like an elite NFL cornerback over the past couple weeks and while yesterday he recorded his first interception since Week 1, this was his first game since Week 7 when he did not earn a grade above +1.0. This is probably more due to the fact that he was not tested often by the St Louis passing game. He was targeted a total of four times and allowed two receptions for 35 yards and intercepted one of Case Keenum’s passes. It is also necessary to note that he did not have to do a lot to pick off Keenum as that turnover was due more to Isa Abdul-Quddus’ well-timed hit on the quarterback than Slay’s performance. In addition, on one of the completions he allowed, Slay missed a key tackle that allowed Kenny Britt to pick up a first down. Overall, Slay did not have a bad game; it just was not as impressive as what we got used to seeing from him over the last month.
RB Joique Bell (+2.3)
CB Quandre Diggs (+2.1)
FB Michael Burton (+2.0)
WR Golden Tate (+1.5)
RB Theo Riddick (+1.5)