Clayton was injured on the team's fifth play from scrimmage during Sunday's game in Detroit. He had been acquired in a trade from the Ravens two days after NFL teams cut their rosters to 53 players. Expendable in Baltimore because of the signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Clayton became quarterback Sam Bradford's main go-to guy immediately.
Including the one reception he had Sunday, Clayton's season ends with 23 receptions for 306 yards (13.3-yard average) and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came in the red zone, where the Rams failed to score a touchdown in three trips against the Lions, and he had three receptions of 30 yards or more and five of 25 yards or more.
The injury occurred on a long pass down the left sideline. Clayton's legs became tangled with those of Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith, and he fell to the ground.
"I got kicked right in the knee," Clayton said. "And as soon as he did it, (my knee) was like so hot and I couldn't move anything, so I knew it was pretty serious."
A man of deep faith and conviction, Clayton refused to feel sorry for himself. He said, "Coming in here, my goal was to give them everything, and everything that I had. To me, it's God's will. And in that manner, there's peace and joy, and comfort. So I'm all right, and I know everything will work out just fine."
Whether it will for the Rams is another question.
Bradford claimed things didn't change that much after Clayton got hurt.
"As far as game-plan wise, I don't know if they changed at all," Bradford said. "We still continued to try to do what we planned to. Obviously it's different with him not in the game, but when he goes down, that just gives someone else an opportunity to step up."
Still, when asked how big of a loss it was, Bradford said, "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't big. You know, I think everyone has seen what he's done for this offense in the first four games of the season. So to lose him, it's definitely going to hurt, but like I said: Him going down just gives someone an opportunity to step up."
Running back Steven Jackson agreed. He said, "I guess what we were trying to do offensively in losing him set us back. When a guy like that goes down, you need someone to step up. Make no excuses, someone has to step up."
On Sunday, Danny Amendola led the Rams with 12 receptions, but they totaled just 95 yards (7.9 per catch). Amendola is the team's leading receiver with 33 receptions for 303 yards, but just a 9.2-yard average.
- In the first half Sunday, the Rams reached the red zone three times, but they lost a fumble and kicked field goals the other two trips. Conversely, after holding the Lions to a field goal on their first red-zone trip, Detroit scored two second-quarter touchdowns that helped build their 24-6 halftime lead.
Asked what was most disappointing Sunday, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "Well, both sides of the ball didn't do real well in the red zone. We know that we didn't play well in some areas on defense that we had. We didn't finish things in the red zone on offense. It's a lot. (On) special teams, you can't give up a kickoff return for a touchdown. I mean, all three phases had a hand in the disappointment of getting beat. Usually when that happens, in all three phases, the score is lopsided, and it was."
Commenting on the red-zone woes, quarterback Sam Bradford said, "That's something that we're going to have to look hard at. Any time you get in the red zone, you've got to get seven points. You can't settle for three. We kicked two field goals, and we turned it over inside the 10 once. Things like that, they come back to hurt."
- Entering Sunday's game, the Rams had forced 10 turnovers, tied for third most in the league. Against the Lions, they had none.
"Yeah, we didn't get a turnover today. Seems kind of opposite of the way things had kind of rolled for us," middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "Before we've had turnovers and seemed to get more yards. It's extremely frustrating, but it's something that we've got to swallow and move forward. Really, that's all you can really do.
Asked about Detroit's 21-point second quarter, Laurinaitis said, "I don't know what happened. They just started making more plays than us. We'll look at the film (Monday) and regroup and just move forward. Just like when you get a W, you can't enjoy it (for too long). So, we can't sulk on this too much and beat our heads against the wall. We go in with an open mind, look at the film, see what needs to be corrected and we'll work at it this week."
- After allowing just 52 points in four games, the Rams were stunned the Lions almost reached that total, even if 14 points came on a kickoff return and interception return.
Said defensive end James Hall, "It wasn't a thought in anybody's mind that something like this would happen. It was a surprise to everybody ... a shock to everybody."
Defensive end Chris Long said, "I think we came out focused and ready to play. We just didn't execute, did some dumb things ... and, man, that team came out and they were hungry. They're a good football team; we knew that coming in. We're very disappointed in the way the game ended up, but nobody's surprised they played the way they played."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
- WR Mark Clayton will undergo surgery for a torn patellar tendon and will miss the remainder of the season.
- TE Mike Hoomanawanui hopes to be active for Sunday's game against San Diego. Hoomanawanui, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener, was close to being available for last week's game against Detroit.
- TE Darcy Johnson was experiencing concussion symptoms Monday and was sent home by the team.
- OG Jacob Bell had concussion symptoms Sunday, but he felt good Monday.
- LB David Vobora might be limited this week after suffering a bone contusion on his knee Sunday against Detroit.
REPORT CARD VS. LIONS
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Once WR Mark Clayton left the game with a knee injury, the focus of the passing offense shifted. Of QB Sam Bradford's 45 pass attempts, 19 were targeted for WR Danny Amendola. Amendola caught 12, but for an average of just 7.9 yards. The lack of a red-zone threat in the passing game is glaring.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- The final numbers look good for RB Steven Jackson, who totaled 114 yards on 25 attempts. However, 36 of those yards came on four plays on the Rams' final offensive possession of the game. Jackson did run well in his second game after injuring his groin, but once the Rams fell far behind, the ground game was an afterthought.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Rams got to QB Shaun Hill for a sack on the Lions' second possession, but they didn't get very close the rest of the game, except on one play when DE Chris Long forced an errant throw that should have been intercepted by CB Ron Bartell. Hill delivered the ball with good timing and found open receivers. After completing just two of his first five passes for 11 yards, Hill was 19-for-27 for 216 yards the rest of the game, including three touchdown passes.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Rams were solid against the run, allowing a total of 89 yards and a 3.4-yard average, although without three kneel-downs at the end of the game, it was a 4.0-yard average. RBs Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith combined for 83 yards on 21 attempts.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Maybe the Rams' coverage team didn't think Stefan Logan would try to run the ball out from 5 yards deep in the end zone. He did, and the result was a 105-yard touchdown return, the Lions' first touchdown of the game. P Donnie Jones had an off day (for him) with a net average of just 39.8 yards. The Rams' return game was disappointing, except for a 24-yard punt return by Danny Amendola. WR Mardy Gilyard fell down twice on kickoff returns, and he averaged just 20.5 yards on four returns. Keith Toston replaced him, and he was worse, with an 18.8-yard average on four runbacks.
COACHING: C -- When a game gets out of hand, there's not much that can be done, but the defense didn't seem as aggressive in the passing game. For the second time this season, the team did not play well on the road. Coach Steve Spagnuolo also acknowledged "in hindsight" that he shouldn't have had Jackson on the field late in the game when the score was 44-6.