ST. LOUIS (AP) — Calvin Johnson appeared primed for a big game, facing a beat-up secondary.
Instead, it was St. Louis' far less famous Johnson who carried the day.
Trumaine Johnson shut down Calvin Johnson, most of it in solo coverage, and Todd Gurley rushed for 140 yards to lead the Rams to a 21-14 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
"It was Johnson vs. Johnson the whole week, even in practice," he said after the Rams snapped a five-game losing streak. "He's one of the best in the league right now and I accepted the challenge. I'm a happy man."
Calvin Johnson was limited to a late reception for 16 yards in his lowest output since he had two catches for 39 yards in the opener against San Diego. Coach Jim Caldwell didn't have much of an explanation, noting Golden Tate and Theo Riddick combined for 16 receptions.
"You can look at that and always try to analyze that part of it," Caldwell said. "You're not going to catch nine balls every single time."
Gurley led a revived offense under new coordinator Rob Boras, scoring two second-half touchdowns. The rookie needed only 16 carries to record his first game with at least 100 yards since Week 8 against San Francisco on Nov. 1.
"We may not be going to the playoffs, but we want to bring that momentum into the offseason," Gurley said. "Same play, same concepts, but we've just got to execute."
Trumaine Johnson's 58-yard return was the only score in the first half, plus he did most of the work on Calvin Johnson. Aaron Donald had three sacks of Matthew Stafford to further boost a defense that had sagged in recent weeks.
"They're a great front four," Stafford said. "Especially 99," he added, referring to Donald.
Donald has a career-best 11 sacks, two more than he had last year when he was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He felt the secondary coverage was a key to getting to Stafford.
"He was just holding the ball a little longer, guys were covering down field and it was just there," Donald said.
Tate caught two touchdown passes for Detroit, which didn't have much to show for extra days off to regroup from a game-ending TD pass by the Packers on Dec. 3.
Turnout was light on "fan appreciation day" at the Edward Jones Dome for what could be the final Sunday home game for the franchise in St. Louis (5-8), with 51,202 tickets distributed but the 66,000-capacity stadium half-filled at best. Rams owner Stan Kroenke wants to move the team to Los Angeles after this season and there is one remaining home game, on Thursday against Tampa Bay.
Tate's 2-yard catch shaved the Lions' deficit to a touchdown with 2:05 left, the play after Johnson stopped his drought with a 16-yard reception. The Lions (4-9) recovered an onside kick after Bradley Marquez bobbled it, but turned it over on downs at the St. Louis 46.
Gurley averaged just 42.7 yards for the previous four games behind an injury-riddled line largely populated by rookies and had just 13 yards on seven carries at the half. Besides scoring on runs on 15 and 5 yards, he had carries of 49 and 21 yards after the break.
Boras replaced Frank Cignetti, who was fired on Monday, and called plays for the first time since 2003 when he was at UNLV.
Coming into the day, the Rams were last in the NFL in third-down efficiency at just 24.5 percent, fourth-worst since 1972 according to STATS, but they were markedly better at 4 for 11 against a team that had held three of its previous four opponents to 18 or fewer points.
Trumaine Johnson returned after missing two games with a thigh injury. The Rams needed him to step up with top cornerback Janoris Jenkins out with a concussion and safety T.J. McDonald sidelined for the season due to a shoulder injury.
On the interception return, he stepped in front of an underthrown pass intended for Calvin Johnson and patiently waited for blocks the last 20 to 30 yards before ending St. Louis' seven-quarter touchdown drought. Stafford had gone more than three games between interceptions.
NOTES: Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (knee) did not return after getting hurt midway through the second quarter. ... Johnson is the first Rams defender with five interceptions since Oshiomoghe Atogwe in 2008. ... Stafford topped 25,000 yards passing in his 90th career game, fastest in NFL history. Hall of Famer Dan Marino did it in his 92nd game.
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