Detroit Lions lose to L.A. Rams: Five things to know about loss

Defense solid but not quite good enough

DETROIT — It was a game not new to the Lions. They held on against a tough opponent, kept it close until the fourth quarter and then couldn’t get across the finish line.

Sunday’s 30-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams dropped the Lions to 4-8 with losses in five of their last six games.

You know what they said afterward about needing to improve as a team moving forward. It’s been said in eight post-game press conferences this season.

“Give the Rams credit. That’s a really good team over there. They’re very explosive, very dynamic, and I think we tried to be in it all the way through it,’’ Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “Obviously, we didn’t get it done in the end.”

Five things to know about the loss:

1. The defense actually played pretty well through most of the game. Defensive back Quandre Diggs had a solid game with an interception, two pass defenses and six tackles. He wasn’t alone. Damon Harrison and Eli Harold each sacked quarterback Jared Goff. And, at least in the first half, running back Todd Gurley was kept in control. Although he finished with 23 carries for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

2. Matthew Stafford kept the offense moving until late in the game. He was 20 of 33 for 245 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the end zone trying to make a play with 11 seconds left in the game. But when he was sacked by Aaron Donald in the fourth quarter, he couldn’t hold onto the ball, fumbled it and the Rams were able to recover at Detroit’s 24-yard line. Three plays later Gurley scampered in for a touchdown to put the Rams up 23-13 with 6:53 left. It was a killer play.

3. Fans were booing loudly when on a third-and-19 in the third quarter, Theo Riddick ran a draw play. It seems to happen quite often that the coaches are so conservative on third-down plays. The Lions settled for a field goal on that drive after Riddick picked up 8 yards. On a third-and-13 in the fourth quarter, Stafford passed short right to Bruce Ellington for 5 yards. It’s not just in this game, either. This is a theme with the coaching calls on third down.

4. Tight end Levine Toilolo stepped up with four catches for 90 yards. He caught one for 22 yards on a first-and-20 in the third quarter on a drive that led to a Matt Prater field goal. Then on the Lions’ next possession he caught one deep down the middle for 39 yards, getting Detroit to the Rams’ 23-yard line. Three plays later left tackle Taylor Decker caught a touchdown pass.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

5. Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh seemed to be quite fired up for this game, his first return to Ford Field since he signed as a free agent in 2015 and left town. Suh finished with six tackles (his season high is nine) and no sacks. He was whistled twice for personal fouls. With 1:41 left in the game and the Rams leading 30-16, Suh was penalized for roughing the passer. Inexcusable. Stafford was asked if his former teammate had anything to say to him: “Nope.” Then he was asked if he said anything to Suh. “Nope.” End of story.

NEXT UP: Lions at Arizona Cardinals (3-9) at 4:25 p.m. on Dec. 9. The Cardinals upset the Packers at Green Bay, 20-17, on Sunday.

Lions LT Taylor Decker scores first touchdown in loss to Rams

Play designed by Jim Bob Cooter last week

DETROIT — You want a creative and imaginative offensive play? Jim Bob Cooter drew one up last week for the Lions.

On Sunday it resulted in 11-yard touchdown pass to left tackle Taylor Decker in the 30-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. With Decker’s score, the Lions were down just 16-13 late in the third quarter.

It was Decker’s first-ever NFL touchdown. And if you happened to catch the ball that he sailed into the stands afterward, he’d like it back. Thank you.

It was not a play that had been in the works for months. Decker said it all came about “pretty late in the week.”

“Walked into breakfast one morning and heard they were going to have a little wrinkle for me and I literally said, ‘I’m going to score a touchdown,’’’ Decker said.

It’s not like they had a lot of practice time to fine-tune it.

“I think we ran it once (in practice). It’s more of a scheme thing, it’s not like I”m beating man coverage,’’ Decker said.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Quarterback Matthew Stafford said it was a Cooter-designed play and that he and Decker got a couple throws in on the side at practice.

“That was Jim Bob this week. I thought it was a great add. Situation was perfect, to tell you the truth, to call it and it worked,’’ Stafford said. “I think our crowd got a little loud when he was telling everyone that 68 was reporting as eligible, which I thought was great. Our guys executed it well. It was a big play and obviously gave us a touchdown.”

Decker said he was a little hyped when he heard the play called. He was so tired afterward he got oxygen on the sideline.

“Obviously didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was a cool moment for me’’ Decker said.

“He’s a big target. So I was happy for him, happy for those guys,’’ Stafford said. “Always good to watch a big guy score, man, they enjoy it. I think he threw it in the stands, huh? Copycat.”

Frustrated Lions DT Ricky Jean Francois after loss to Rams: We can’t keep losing

He doesn’t believe in moral victories

DETROIT — While Detroit lost 30-16 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Ford Field, the Lions’ defense showed positive signs against one of the NFL’s top offenses.

However, no one was claiming a moral victory.

“It sounds cute, that’s all it is. It sounds good enough to make a story that we gave a run to the L.A. Rams. At the end of the day we still lost. There’s no such thing as moral victories. We don’t have that in our head,’’ defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. “… We didn’t go out there, we didn’t do our job, we didn’t win. At the end of the day there’s no such thing as a moral victory, I still see an L instead of a W.’’

Francois is one of the outspoken leaders on the team who is not afraid to show his emotions after a loss. Sunday was no different.

The veteran was frustrated to see the Lions fall to 4-8, dropping five of their last six games.

“I can’t speak for them, I can’t speak for none of the guys in the locker room. I know I’m tired (of losing), I’m done with that (expletive). That is unfamiliar to me, losing all the time. At some point, we have to have a breaking point,” Francois said. “Tonight, we have to go home and look at ourselves in the mirror and check ourselves. Are we doing enough to win? Are we helping this team to win, and are we helping ourselves and our team to put us in a position to start putting wins up? Last few games we were playing playoff caliber teams. It’s not going to get easier. We just played probably one of the teams that’s going to be in for the NFC Championship, or probably further. We have to learn how to start playing at these levels. We have to learn how to start playing playoff teams. We have to learn how to execute and learn how to close. When we learn how to close, when we learn how to do that, we’re just going to keep having this conversation.”

He wasn’t done.

“That’s the most high-powered offense in the NFL, we held them to the point they had to grind for every point. They did it though,’’ Francois said. “They were physically and mentally ready to come in and win this game. You have to cash in, you have to get to that point where you’re tired of losing. That has to irk you, that has to keep you up at night. We can’t keep losing.’’

Losing doesn’t sit well on him and it hasn’t since the preseason.

“Nobody has to teach you how to learn, you have to have that within you , you’ve got to know how to win yourself. No matter what the situation is you’ve got to know how to master, how to close that game,’’ Francois said. “You’ve got to know how to cash in on situations, win the two minutes, win the end of the half, all types of stuff. No coach in this building, no coach in the NFL can teach an NFL player how to win you have to have that within you.’’

When specifically asked about what was wrong with the Lions, he had a Bo Schembechler like answer: “The team, the team, the team.’’

Next Sunday the Lions play at Arizona (3-9). The Cardinals upset the Packers, 20-17, at Green Bay on Sunday.

Francois said he hopes all three phases can learn something from Sunday’s loss.

“I understand what (Arizona’s) record is, but that’s a hard-playing team. …  I’m just tired of losing. All of us in this building are tired of losing,’’ Francois said.