They spent three quarters making Case Keenum look like Joe Montana, but when the Detroit Lions needed a stop most, their shorthanded defense came up big. Twice.
Darius Slay broke up a third-down pass with just over five minutes to play and Matthew Stafford led the Lions on a nine-play, 44-yard field-goal drive to beat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-28 today at Ford Field.
The Rams had one final chance to win, but Rafael Bush intercepted a Keenum pass intended for Lance Kendricks with 1:01 to play to send the Lions (3-3) to their second straight late-minute victory.
Last week, Slay intercepted a late Carson Wentz pass to clinch the win.
For most of Sunday, Keenum picked apart a Lions defense playing without DeAndre Levy and Haloti Ngata.
He completed 19 straight passes at one point and finished 27-for-32 with three touchdown passes and one rushing score.
Stafford was nearly Keenum’s equal, completing 23 of 31 passes for 270 yards and four touchdowns.
Stafford threw touchdowns of 7 and 2 yards in the first half, to Marvin Jones and Andre Roberts, as the Lions and Rams traded touchdowns most of the day.
Keenum hit Kenny Britt for a 20-yard score in the first quarter and ran for a 1-yard touchdown early in the second half as the two teams went to the locker room tied at 14.
The Lions went ahead 21-14 on their first possession of the second half after Stafford hit Golden Tate with a 61-yard pass on a free play after a Rams defender jumped offside.
Officials initially ruled the play a touchdown, but replays showed Rams cornerback Troy Hill nicked Tate’s foot as he changed direction near the end zone.
Stafford threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin two plays later.
The Rams (3-3) answered with a big pass play of their own on the next series when Kenny Britt made a juggling 47-yard catch, pinning the ball between his legs as he lay on the turf.
Kendricks beat Kyle Van Noy for a 15-yard touchdown pass five plays later to knot the score at 21.
The Lions went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and Keenum threw his third touchdown pass of the game with 14:09 left in the fourth quarter. Britt bounced off two Lions tacklers on his way to the end zone.
The Lions answered with a 13-play, 84-yard drive on their first possession of the fourth quarter before turning the game over to their defense.
Zach Zenner ran for 58 yards on 14 carries for the Lions, who played without Theo Riddick, and Tate had a season-high 165 yards on eight catches.
Britt caught seven passes for 136 yards for the Rams.