DET-STL Grades: Gurley‘s Monster Second Half Propels Rams

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams’ 21-14 win over the Lions:

| 10 months ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

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).

Top performers:

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)

Detroit Lions

– 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.

Top performers:

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)

  • Mike

    The officials had a -10 sort of day.

  • ToreBear

    So you are attributing the interception to Stafford? Interesting. Johnson running the wrong route is totally out of the question then is it?

    It’s interesting how Stafford having a bad game coincides with Donald having a great game. It would almost seem that there is a relation somehow. Perhaps even a Co relation?

    Or does your data say otherwise?

    • Dohkay

      PFF is so predictable. Calvin has not been the same player this year but they seem to put all of the blame on Stafford instead. I also have to laugh how they (and others) use the term “forced” anytime Stafford is intercepted throwing to Calvin. He targets him 5 times all game but somehow is still forcing it to Calvin despite throwing the ball 41 times to players not named Calvin.

      Also, newsflash PFF: yoou can’t throw the ball downfield, especially, with accuracy, when you don’t have a clean pocket and/or time to throw the ball. How is this lost on you? The Lions lack a speed threat at WR who can make it downfield 30 yards in 4 seconds so I’m not sure what you expect Stafford to do here…

      • Jaguars28

        They gave Bortles a bad grade for “forcing” the ball too, I feel you man.

      • Jacob

        Thank you I feel exact same way…….I’ve watched every game of Matthew Stafford’s career as a Lion and there’s no doubt this has been EASILY his 2nd best season overall.

        For some odd reason it seeks that WEEK AFTER WEEK this year PFF seems to have Stafford’s overall play graded so poorly that it’s now become almost laughable. Did Stafford steal the ‘graders’ GF or something, cost him a fantasy title, etc?

        Here’s the two biggest factors PFF doesn’t account for enough or at all: Stafford had faced the 4th toughest defenses in the NFL this year going into yesterdays game against the 6th ranked St. Louis defense (all per Football outsiders). They’re probably in the top 2 now after yesterday and lastly the Lions have had the worst running game in the NFL combined with the worst offensive line play or darn close to that most of the season. For this site to go to another level IMO this has to be factored into things as without it these numbers mean very little. Any legit NFL qb can sit back in a clean pocket and pick teams apart.

        I have no idea what PFF has seen out of Stafford this year as I’ve seen a guy whose played the position very well, at least above average for an NFL QB.