Goff OK But Rams Suffer Bitter Loss
November 24, 2016
Jared Goff's NFL quarterback debut showed promise but it took a very late hard hit as the Rams suffered a disheartening 14-10 loss to the visiting Miami Dolphins last Sunday.
A rain-soaked Coliseum crowd once again was pleading in the final minutes for the defense to save the day.
"It felt good. I think I'll start off with obviously very disappointed with the result there at the end, and how things turned out and how we felt the whole game and how in control we were," opened a solemn yet confident Goff who handled his very first postgame press conference under the microscope with poise.
"How at the end there, with six minutes left, we just couldn't put it away and I think that's just every play. We need to finish well and finish better than that."
Uncharacteristic was the Rams' defense failing to make the crucial stops while abetting the final and only two Dolphin' scoring drives with costly penalties. Miami scored its first points of the game with 4:02 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to Jarvis Landry, who pile-drived five yards across the goal line, cutting L.A.'s lead to 10-7.
Goff and company responded with three-and-out and a Johnny Hekker punt to the Miami 25-yard line. Seven plays and 75 yards later Tannehill deflated the Rams faithful with a nine-yard pass to DeVante Parker with 35 seconds left in the game inside the right corner of the goal line.
Disconcerting was Greg Zeurlein's missed 47-yard field goal attempt to put the Rams up by 13 points with 6:40 remaining. The L.A. coaching staff played it close to the vest and elected to go with the kick instead of trying for a first down on fourth-and-one at the Miami 30-yard line. The kick hit the left goal post, fell short of the crossbar and marked the momentum swing.
"Probably one of the most disappointing losses I've endured over the years, particularly because of everything that went into the game: the opportunities for Jared to start here at home and all those things, and the fact that we're coming off of a win... to let things slip away in the last six minutes was really disappointing, but that's the National Football League," said Coach Jeff Fisher.
"As far as Jared's concerned, he did a really good job. No delay-of-games, was in complete control in the huddle, did a nice job on the line of scrimmage. I was disappointed in the outcome of the game, but I think you could see the light.
"I hope he's really disappointed. Not in his own play but the fact that we lost the game. I think each and every player in the locker room needs to look at themselves and say: "Okay how do we avoid these things from happening?"
The Rams also saw some light in running back Todd Gurley's rushing game, which has yet to realize its potential this season. The Rams took a 7-0 lead 9:47 in the first quarter on Gurley's 24-yard burst off-right and through the end zone pylon for their wet and rejoicing fan-base envisioning the future.
In the meantime, the Dolphin offense was completely handcuffed by a relentless Ram defense that held Miami to six first downs and 136 total net yards while Tannehill had only 11 of 21 completions for an anemic 56 yards through the first three quarters.
For the sixth time this season the Rams' defense was called upon to save the day on the final drive of the game. For only the second time it failed in that regard.
Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree: "We just had too many penalties and we just didn't make the end play at the end to get off the field.
"We have to learn to finish. We have to be mentally strong in crunch time. You can't have all those penalties that we had and expect to win. We played pretty well for most of the game and then on two possessions we gave up two touchdowns... we weren't able to do that today."
Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers echoed the team's frustration: "It's hard. It's hard to really even talk about. Defensively, we have to do better. We have to execute, we have to tackle, we have to make sure we give the ball to our offense as many times as possible to score. We just didn't do that enough, we did a lot of good things, we just didn't do enough."
Goff looked respectable in his first NFL outing completing 17 of 31 passes for 134 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions thrown. He showed mobility when chased out of the pocket, was sacked once and rushed for 11 yards on four carries.
He threw to Lance Kendricks on a fourth-and-three for a first down to keep the team's final desperate drive going for one last play. But the drenched L.A. fans' prayers were not answered as Goff's Hail Mary pass was knocked out of the back of the end zone as time expired.
Gurley finished with 76 total yards rushing on 20 carries and scored his fourth touchdown of the season. Receiver Kenny Britt had five catches for 43 yards, Lance Kendricks had four receptions for 38 yards while Brian Quick had three catches for 21 total yards in game where both teams' offenses curtailed the long passes due to the inclement weather.
Goff looked forward to the coaching staff expanding the playbook: "I think that early on it had to do with the weather... It was just a little bit wet out there, and early on, that was the reason why and late, we were winning, and we wanted to run the ball and that's when it got dry and that's when they had to pass it. But, yeah, I would like to throw some balls down field and I think that will be in the plan every week and it's up to them."
The Rams, 4-6 overall, travel to New Orleans to take on the 4-6 Saints next Sunday in what is a must win situation for both teams in order to keep their now diminishing playoff hopes alive with six games remaining in the regular season.
The Saints' high powered-offense boasts the third highest scoring team in the league at 28.5 points per game and rank first in yards averaged with 422 as well as in passing yardage led by quarterback Drew Brees with 316.8 average yards completed.
The Rams lead the all-time series with the Saints with 42 wins in 72 total contests.
Despite the bitter loss the Rams and their fans have to feel relieved and hopeful about the future of the franchise's quarterback.
Goff's demeanor, execution and command of the plays has distinctly improved compared to his limited and lackluster preseason performances that alarmed critics concerning the NFL's 2016 top draft choice.
And quite noticeable was the sense one could feel among the Ram players in a very sober and serious locker room after the game: it was a 'team' loss... a silver lining in the dark clouds that hung over the Coliseum and literally rained on Goff's inaugural parade.
The first test was a brutal one but the 22-year old Los Angeles rookie is going to do just fine, wet feet and all.