Rams go to Texas after beating the Detroit Lions
October 28, 2021
After having clearly put the hype between traded quarterbacks Matthew Stafford of the Rams and Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions in their rearview mirror with an unexpectedly tight 28-19 victory last Sunday at Sofi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams turn their focus on the road against another very-challenged team this Sunday, the Houston Texans. It will be the third consecutive "trap" game for the Rams, and like their two previous opponents, the dysfunctional Texans are in the running for the worst team in the NFL.
The Rams also made unexpected news on Monday when they traded former UCLA star linebacker Kenny Young to the Denver Broncos. In a strictly financial decision, they sent Young along with a 2024 7th-Round pick for Denver's 2024 6th-Round pick. The Rams acquired Young in a trade that sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens in October 2019.
Young played 23 games for the Rams during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, recording 98 total tackles, nine tackles for loss one interception for touchdown, three sacks, four quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries. "Very grateful for the contributions that Kenny has made to our team over the last couple of years," said Rams head coach Sean McVay.
"He has been our guy that's played in a lot of single-backer defenses,' said McVay. "So, whether it's Troy Reeder or Ernest Jones, they're going to be asked to step up and fill that void and that vacancy. Really, for us being able to save some of that money was something that was beneficial. There's a lot of layers, but if you said that the main reason that the decision was made it was financially driven for us."
The Houston Texans are currently 1-6 and dead last in the AFC South. They have lost their last six games after beating the rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars 37-21 in the season opener. They have failed to score in double digits in four of their last five games, while totaling a mere 17 points in those four losses. However, they barely lost to the New England Patriots, 25-22 in their last home game three weeks ago.
Once a promising franchise, the Texans' decline started two seasons ago after they made it to the second round of the AFC Playoffs in 2019. That team featured superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson and arguably the NFL's best wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans inexplicably traded Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in March 2020, giving the Rams' NFC West opponent a gift for running back David Johnson, a 2nd-Round pick and 4th-Round pick.
With the NFL trading deadline coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Texans are now in serious talks with a number of teams vying for the services of Deshaun Watson, who has not played all season due to circumstances involving accusations of sexual assault and misconduct. He currently has 22 active civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints to deal with. The latest reports are that the Dolphins have the inside track on acquiring Watson.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement on Tuesday concerning Watson's status with the League: "We don't have all the access to that information and pride ourselves on not interfering with it... We don't feel we have that necessary information to place him on the exempt list."
The Rams improved their record to 6-1 on Sunday but it was not easy. The winless Detroit Lions (0-7) literally pulled off three 'trick' plays to put the game in doubt for much of the afternoon. It boiled down to defensive tackle Aaron Donald's pressure on Goff and cornerback Jalen Ramsey's interception at the Rams 2-yard line when the Lions were threatening to take the lead with only five minutes remaining in the game to stem the tide.
"He (Aaron Donald) made a great play and so did Jalen," said Goff postgame. "Those two guys are the best at their position for a reason. They made a great play on us. If I had to do it again, probably throw it out of the end zone, but that's the look we wanted, a play we wanted, and unfortunately I got hit on it."
Goff also spoke about sharing a few moments with his former teammates. "I got a lot of memories with a lot of those guys and a lot of lifelong friendships. We did some pretty special things in my five years here, so it's something I'm definitely really proud of what we were able to accomplish while I was with L.A. It's always cool to see that and have guys that mean something to you."
The Lions trickery started with a successful onside kick recovery by Tracy Walker soon after Goff completed a 63-yard touchdown to running back D'Andre Swift on the game's opening drive. Four plays later on 4th-and-7 from midfield, Detroit punter Jack Fox completed a 17-yard pass to Bobby Price for a first down. Seven plays later, Lion's kicker Austin Seibert converted a 37-yard field goal. The score was suddenly 10-0 without the Rams offense yet to touch the ball.
Trailing 17-16 five minutes into the third quarter, the Lions faked another punt on 4th-and-8 from their 35-yard line. This time they got a first down when C.J. Moore took the snap and rushed 28 yards to Rams 37-yard line. But the Los Angeles defense refused to break, stopping Swift on consecutive 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 plays at the Rams 18-yard line. It was a critical stop and momentum change as the Lions never scored again.
Stafford, who became only the 12th NFL quarterback to throw 300 touchdowns. His fourth quarter 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cooper Kupp gave him 301, one more than his childhood idol, former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway.
"I grew up watching John and I was a huge fan. I wore No. 7 in high school and college because of John.
"And I was a huge fan of the way he played the game, the way he threw the ball, all of that. It's pretty cool. I'm sure I'll appreciate it probably more when I'm done playing... But being able to win the game and do something like that, it's pretty special."
Stafford completed 28-41 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns thrown. His 19 total touchdowns for the season ranks second only behind Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Tom Brady's 21 touchdown passes. Stafford ranks third among starting quarterback ratings at 116.7, just behind Seattle Seahawk Russell Wilson (125.3) and Arizona Cardinal quarterback Kyler Murray (116.8).
Kupp caught two more touchdown passes to increase his league lead with nine. He also leads the League with 56 receptions, 809 total yards, 14 catches of 20 or more yards, and targets with 81. Wide receiver Robert Woods caught all six of his targeted passes for 70 yards, tight end Tyler Higbee caught five passes for 46 yards, and Van Jefferson had four receptions for 43 yards and one touchdown.
The Rams will be playing their first game at Houston in eight years. They beat the Texans 33-7. Both teams have met only four times with the Rams holding a 3-1 edge. Two of the wins came when the Rams were located in St. Louis. The Texans only win, 16-13, came in 2009. Stafford and company are heavy favorites to improve their all-time series record to 4-1 when they meet at NRG Stadium this Sunday at 10 a.m..