That Sam LaPorta was able to play in the Wild Card Round against the Los Angeles Rams with a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise was a huge credit to two things. One, his toughness. And two, the work of the Lions' training staff during the week to get him ready to go. Head coach Dan Campbell called that work by the training staff "voodoo magic".
LaPorta played close to his normal snap share against the Rams, and while his numbers weren't phenomenal (three catches for 14 yards), one of those catches was a touchdown on a 4th-and-1 that proved to be very important in a one-point win.
During his appearance on 97.1 The Ticket this week, quarterback Jared Goff acknowledged an adjustment that to be made on that scoring play, where LaPorta was the first "and really only" read.
'Their defense presented something we really weren't looking to get there and played it a little differently than we expected," Goff said Tuesday on 97.1 The Ticket. "So he kind of ad-libbed at the top of that route."
LaPorta was able to get in a normal practice on Friday before the Rams' game. That proved to be pretty important, in hindsight.
Sam LaPorta talks about adjustment he made on touchdown vs. Rams
Via Kyle Meinke of MLive, LaPorta talked about the practicing the situation that led to the touchdown.
"Fridays are our red-zone day,” LaPorta said. “So Jim Hostler, one of our pass-game coordinators, and works a lot with the tight ends, he’s in our room quite frequently. He just hinted to me, like, ‘If you don’t get the ball on the initial route, what do you think you’re going to do?’ I was like, “I guess I never thought about that, Hos. I’ll probably tuck it in.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’ But yeah, he just mentioned that to me, gave me a little hint.”
The Lions had their jumbo package-two tight ends, an extra offensive lineman and a fullback-on the field. The Rams matched that with big personnel, leaving 310-pound edge rusher Michael Hoect to cover LaPorta. That's an obvious mismatch, and after being jammed on the initial route LaPorta improvised.
The chemistry Goff and LaPorta have had all season, along with the tip from a veteran coach like Hostler, proved crucial to the Lions beating the Rams. It's nice when things come together like that, especially in playoff games.