It was supposed to be a quarterback battle between the oldest starter in the league and the youngest first overall draft pick in Super Bowl LIII (53).
Tom Brady versus Jared Goff- two California kids would battle it out on the national stage for the highest honor in the league, the Lombardi Trophy.
What was set to be somewhat of a shootout between two of the top four offenses in the NFL instead turned into a defensive slug-fest that was tied at three apiece headed into the fourth quarter.
By games end, Tom Brady was hoisting up this sixth Lombardi, while Goff and the Rams closed out a season in which they won 15 games.
Overall, the stats weren’t pretty for Goff, who finished just 19 of 38 for 229 yards and threw a crucial interception late in the 4th quarter.
While Brady stayed upright most of the game, Goff was constantly picking himself up off the Atlanta turf. Sacked four times and hit at least another dozen, Goff took a beating.
And yet, despite the hits, Goff was two plays away from walking away a World Champion. The first play, was a late read and throw to a wide open, uncovered Brandin Cooks in the back of the end zone off a play action pass.
Had Goff seen Cooks earlier in the read, that’s a walk-in touchdown for Cooks, and the Rams lead the Patriots 7-3.
In the 4th quarter, Goff this time made a perfect throw to Cooks on the right sideline. His feet were set, the throw was good, Cooks just couldn’t hold onto it. Of course, let’s not ignore that Stephon Gilmore also got away with a little bit of a hold, but even so, Cooks should have held onto the football. And truth be told, Cooks never complained about the play, so it was really washed over.
On the next play, with a full on house blitz by the Patriots, Goff had Cooks one-on-one with Gilmore running almost the exact same route. This time, with pressure, Goff slipped as he fired off to Cooks. The pressure and the slip didn’t help as the pass fell far short of the end zone, and into the hands of a waiting Gilmore.
A couple of huge runs by the Patriots on the next drive got New England into position for the game clinching field goal, putting the Rams into a 13-3 hole.
Goff did drive the Rams downfield one last time, but the drive resulted in a rare miss by Greg Zuerlein, ending the game.
Now talk has already started that Goff wasn’t “ready” for the spotlight, and I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. Goff was ready. He didn’t play bad so much as the Patriots defense was just at another level.
If Goff wasn’t ready for prime time, he would have choked against Kansas City on that Monday Night shootout. He would have melted against the Saints in New Orleans after being down 13-0 and 20-10. But he didn’t. Goff was ready, he just ran into a very good football team, end of story.
Stop the nonsense and the over analysis. Goff is a good quarterback, he just ran into Bill Belichick’s Patriots.