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Rams-Football Team recap: Aaron Donald’s 4 sacks, Jared Goff’s 3 TDs leads LA to win

The Rams are 4-1!

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams held the Washington Football Team to 70 net passing yards, their fewest allowed in a game since Week 5 of the 2017 season against the Seattle Seahawks, and Jared Goff rode another dominant first quarter towards a 30-10 win on Sunday in Washington. The Rams improve to 4-1 and keep pace with the Seahawks, Packers and Bears as the only teams in the NFC with four wins.

The Rams next travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers on Sunday Night Football in Week 6, then host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 7. If they continue to show the deep passing attack and potent pass rush that was on display this week, LA has every reason to believe they’ll remain in the race for the conference’s top seed.

Goff completed 13 of his first 14 attempts and he is now 38 of 41 for over 10 yards per throw in the first quarter this season. The Rams scored touchdowns on their first three drives against Football Team, including a Darrell Henderson run, a 56-yard throw to Robert Woods and a two-yard run by Goff.

Tight end Gerald Everett led all players with 90 yards on four receptions.

Finishing off their schedule against the NFC East quarterbacks, the Rams again had a dominant performance on defense, including a season-best eight sacks. Aaron Donald had four on his own, perhaps inspired by teammate Troy Reeder, who also had three. Since getting to Carson Wentz zero times in Week 2, LA’s defense has totaled 17 sacks in the last three games. Donald now has 7.5 sacks this season.

His previous career-high through five games was 3.5 sacks.

Reeder’s playing time increased due to injuries at the position through training camp and the season, including starter Micah Kiser being inactive with a groin injury.

For the first time this season, Washington started Kyle Allen at quarterback and had third stringer Alex Smith active as the backup. Former starter Dwayne Haskins was benched this week and was told to stay home and rest after calling in with a stomach virus on Sunday morning. Allen was 9 of 13 for 74 yards with a rushing touchdown, then left the game after a hard hit from cornerback Jalen Ramsey. This opened the door for Smith to play in a football game for the first time since breaking his leg on November 18, 2018.

Smith went 9 of 17 for 37 yards and he was sacked six times. He’s the sixth quarterback since 2011 to attempt at least 15 passes and averaged under 2.5 yards per throw, albeit in extremely unusual circumstances for a player — Smith had no preseason to prepare for not playing in any football games in nearly two years, and had also not been hit in practice since then.

Rams linebacker Jachai Polite, a third round pick of the Jets in 2019 and a practice squad player for LA last season, was credited with his first career sack and his first three career tackles.

Goff had a similar statistical performance to what he had two weeks ago against the Bills, going 21 of 30 for 309 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Against Buffalo, Goff was 23 of 32 for 321 yards, two touchdown and one interception. Goff now has eight touchdowns and three interceptions on the season, averaging nearly nine yards per pass attempt; his career-high for yards per attempt is 8.4.

This has definitely been the most successful Goff has ever been from an efficiency standpoint and it appears the presence of offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, the script by Sean McVay and the play of receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have all contributed to his steady command of the offense through five weeks. Goff was also only sacked one time despite a consistent presence around the football by Washington defensive linemen Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

Having all three running backs healthy at the same time may have helped as well.

Darrell Henderson had 38 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. Rookie Cam Akers had nine carries for 61 yards, 46 of which came on a single run in the fourth quarter. Malcolm Brown chipped in eight carries for 30 yards.