Over the first five games of 2020, the LA Rams had been getting the type of play from Jared Goff that would be necessary for a 4-1 start. He wasn’t in the MVP conversation like some of his colleagues who had also won four-plus games already, or teammate Aaron Donald, but Goff was accurate and avoided costly mistakes.
In Sunday night’s 24-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Goff was not accurate and he made costly mistakes.
“Clearly wasn’t my best,” Goff said after the game. “Uncharacteristic stuff, missing guys open early and something I’ve never done in my life and do not expect to repeat. Probably what I do best is accuracy and it would have given us a better chance to win.”
Goff finished the night 19 of 38 for 198 yards, but much of that success was created on the Rams final drive when they were down 15 points late in the fourth quarter. Before that drive, Goff was 12 of 31 for 123 yards with a 10-yard touchdown pass and an end zone interception.
“If I’m accurate early on, we’re not even talking about this right now,” Goff added in the short post game press conference.
The last time Goff played this poorly could be his back-to-back games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears in Weeks 10 and 11 of the 2019 season. Goff completed only 33 of 59 attempts combined with no touchdowns, three interceptions and 7.06 yards per attempt.
Goff entered Week 6 with 71.71-percent completions, three interceptions and 9 yards per attempt, but that wasn’t the type of performance we saw against the 49ers this week. It was also similar to his games against the 49ers last season, when San Francisco swept the Rams and that essentially made the difference in their respective campaigns; the Rams went 9-7, the 49ers went 13-3, but flipping those two games gives LA the advantage.
The Rams now hold a one-game lead over the Niners in the NFC West, but could need a better performance by Goff and a victory in the rematch in order to hold off San Francisco if this is only a sign of things to come.
“If I’m a little bit better tonight, we have a different result,” was another comment by Goff about the importance of his accuracy and play this week.
Goff went 13 of 24 for 78 yards — minus another 30 yards on sacks taken — against the 49ers in Week 6 of 2019 and 27 of 46 for 323 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in Week 16.
One thing that clearly threw Goff and Sean McVay off after weeks of being the NFL’s best first quarter offense was San Francisco’s defense to open the game. Goff had been 38 of 41 for 422 yards in the first quarter entering the week, but he went one of six in the first quarter on Sunday.
Similarly, Goff had been nearly as good in the fourth quarter — 21 of 27 for 321 yards, four touchdowns — but again wasn’t effective against the 49ers defense. Prior to his last drive, Goff had only been three of seven for 28 yards on the two series before that, both ending in punts.
Every quarterback has bad games. Even great quarterbacks have bad games. Goff has admitted this was a bad game. Whether he is a great quarterback is not something that will be determined tonight, but over the course of the next 11 games.
And the next time he faces a division rival.