ATLANTA — Over the course of the offseason, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff will probably remember the wide-open throw he had to Brandin Cooks in the end zone, which was just a beat too late. Or the interception he threw against the New England Patriots’ all-out blitz. Or any number of throws he didn’t make through a 13-3 loss in Super Bowl LIII.
“I wish I could have a million plays back,” Goff said.
It’s unfair to put the Rams’ miserable offensive performance all on Goff. Sean McVay said he was out-coached. The offensive line didn’t do a great job protecting Goff. Cooks could have had a touchdown catch on a close play, just before Goff’s back-breaking interception in the fourth quarter, but it went through his hands. The running game, with Todd Gurley strangely marginalized in the game plan, could have helped put Goff in more manageable second- and third-down situations.
But quarterbacks take most of the blame, and Goff deserves plenty. He was off the whole game, completing 19 of 38 passes for 229 yards and a 57.9 rating. Goff had to rally in the fourth quarter to pump up those terrible numbers. Through three quarters he was 9-of-21 for 95 yards.
This goes on the list of poorest Super Bowl performances by a quarterback in recent memory, right alongside Rich Gannon, Kerry Collins and Neil O’Donnell among others. And, because he’s a high-profile quarterback and this was the game’s biggest stage, it will stick to Goff for a while.
“Kills. Kills,” Goff said. “It hurts me so much, knowing how well our defense played.”
Jared Goff struggles against Patriots defense
Among all quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall, Goff made it to the Super Bowl the fastest. He got there in just his third season.
On Sunday, he looked like a young quarterback.
The Patriots switched up coverages to throw him off, and it worked. The Patriots played much more zone than usual. That forced Goff to hold the ball longer than he wanted, and the Patriots’ many defensive line stunts up front got through to pressure him.
Two plays stood out. On one, Goff had Cooks running free to the end zone behind a busted coverage. He didn’t see it fast enough and by the time he delivered the ball, cornerback Jason McCourty was able to make an impressive recovery and knock it away.
“I was kind of surprised he was that wide open,” Goff said. “I tried to get it to him as quickly as I could, and unfortunately it was too late.”
Then came the interception. The Rams were finally moving the ball in the fourth quarter, trailing 10-3. New England called a blitz and Goff hurried a deep pass out to Cooks. It hung up forever, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore picked it off.
“It was a bad decision by me, and I have to be better,” Goff said.
Rams confident Goff will bounce back
Goff had a fine season. He had 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns and made a Pro Bowl. He made some great clutch passes in the NFC championship game. But the final images of his third NFL season will be of him misfiring on throws against the Patriots and getting almost nothing going in one of the worst team offensive performances in Super Bowl history.
“He’s a special kid and he’ll be prepared to bounce back,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said.
“You continue to love what he is about, and I think this game will serve as a great opportunity for us all to learn from,” McVay said.
Goff will be back. Since McVay showed up before Goff’s second season, he has established himself as a Pro Bowl-level quarterback. The Rams won an NFC title and Goff is just 24 years old. His future is bright. But the next few months are going to hurt.
“I think you’re just numb in a way,” Goff said. “We’re trying to process it all, but we know what happened. We got outplayed. We got completely outplayed. Like I said, for an offense like we know we’re capable of being, for them to do what they did to us is so impressive, and we tip our cap to them. At the same time, we left so much out there on the field. That’s so hard to take right now, and I’m mad at myself.”
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