The Jared Goff Era of the Los Angeles Rams began Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — in the rain — and by any standard the rookie quarterback had a good day. It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t embarrassing either.
Goff completed 17 and 31 passes for 134 yards with no interceptions — or touchdowns for that matter. But it is significant that he didn’t have any major throwing errors that led to scores for the Miami Dolphins.
The fact that the team led the game, shutting out the Dolphins more than 3.5 quarters says a lot about Goff and his future as the starting QB. It also says a lot about the offense that still struggles to score points. Second year running back Todd Gurley ran for a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but they wouldn’t get another score until the 3rd quarter when kicker Greg Zuerlein kicked a 46-yard field goal into an unpredictable wind.
Late in the 4th quarter the Dolphins offense, led by Ryan Tannehill, mounted two drives that produced two touchdowns to win the game. With just over four minutes left in the game Tannehill connected with Jarvis Landry for a 10-yard TD pass and then, after the Miami defense forced Los Angeles to punt — the two punters had a total of 18 punts — Tannehill led his team back into the Red Zone where they scored on a 9-yard Tannehill pass to DeVante Parker with 36 seconds left in the game.
The break down of the Los Angeles defense left many people surprised, although it was clear the silly fouls in the 4th quarter contributed much to the Dolphins’ win. Linebacker Alec Ogletree was called for Unnecessary Roughness for a late hit on Landry after the receiver was clearly out of bounds. That moved the ball 15 yards forward, from the Miami 47. Miami scored their first touchdown on that drive. On the Dolphins next drive Aaron Donald was called for Roughing the Passer and once again Miami got a 15-yard assist. They scored their game-winning TD on the drive.
In the postgame press conference, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said, “Each and every player in the locker room needs to look at themselves and say, ‘How do we avoid these things from happening.’ Whether that’s Aaron on roughing the passer or that’s Tree (Alec Ogletree) on the hit out of bounds, or that’s Greg (Robinson) — I haven’t seen it, I’ll have to see it — block in the back, those are the kinds of things you can’t have in close games.”
Of the late hit Ogletree said, “I wasn’t trying to hit him (Landry) but I have to be smarter and not touch him.”
In his postgame press conference Goff said, “We’re obviously disappointed with the result there at the end and how things turned out, and how we felt through the whole game and how in control we were. At the end, 6 minutes left, we just kind of couldn’t put it away.”
The loss isn’t on Goff, although the entire offense needs to pick up its game. Fisher told the media, “Unfortunately where we are right now offensively we’re going to have to play good defense and get turnovers.”
They did a little of that in this game, but the offense wasn’t able to convert on those opportunities.
Todd Gurley rushed for 76 yards and Tavon Austin for eight. Goff had 11 yards rushing. Running back Benjamin Cunningham had a great kick off return after the second Miami TD, returning the ball 44 yards to put the Rams in good field position, but offense wasn’t able to get any points.
- Cunningham had another kick return of 42 yards.
It rained on and off before and during the game, with swirling winds. The weather played a big part in helping both defenses. One of Greg Zuerlein’s field goal attempts went awry due to the wind.
Next the Rams will be in New Orleans to play the Saints. When speaking about Goff’s start as the starting QB, Fisher said, “What greater challenge, could you imagine being in his shoes, and going down and competing against the likes of Drew Brees. That’s a huge challenge for a young quarterback.”
It will be a huge challenge for the entire team — and maybe the Saints as well. Both teams are 4-6 this season, but there’s no doubt the Saints have the edge at the QB position.
Photos by Claudia Gestro
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