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Jared Goff passes another test as Rams impress with 26-20 victory over the Saints

The Times' Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry discuss the Rams' 26-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Rams improved to 8-3 to remain atop the NFC West.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff continued his efficient play Sunday in the Rams’ 26-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Coliseum.

Goff completed 28 of 43 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams improved to 8-3.

Goff had one pass intercepted, but it came on a ball that receiver Sammy Watkins tipped into the hands of a defensive back.

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"I think you … are going to see Jared continue to mature week in and week out, making good decisions," coach Sean McVay said.

Goff was operating with a receiving corps devoid of Robert Woods, who suffered a shoulder injury in last week's 24-7 defeat at Minnesota. Woods leads the Rams in receptions.

"Didn't really change much," Goff said. "All I wanted to do was be aware of who was in there.

"Some guys are really good at things, some guys are better at other things."

Goff connected with Watkins for a touchdown on the Rams' first series, and with rookie Josh Reynolds in the second quarter for a 17-7 lead.

Goff was operating against a secondary that was without starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley.

"I don't think we changed much, and didn't go after anybody or anything like that," Goff said. "We just executed our play calls, and there's definitely some we want back.

"We scored 26 and felt like we could've scored much more than that if we would've finished up some drives."

Goff has passed for 2,964 yards and 18 touchdowns, with five interceptions.

Mr. Automatic returns

A week after Greg Zuerlein did not attempt a field goal against the Vikings, he made four against the Saints.

Zuerlein made kicks from 50, 46, 49 and 26 yards.

"Certainly you always want to try to finish those drives with touchdowns," McVay said. "But I think when you have a player like Greg, you feel like once you get really inside that 40-yard line, we feel pretty confident that he's going to be automatic."

Zuerlein said he was disappointed that he missed a 62-yard attempt at the end of the first half.

"I can make that kick, I've done it in practice," Zuerlein said. "I did it in practice just this week."

Said McVay: "That's a decision that we wouldn't second-guess."

Zuerlein leads the NFL in scoring with 129 points. He moved into fifth place on the NFL’s single-season scoring list, passing former Rams running back Marshall Faulk, who scored 128 points in 2011.

Zuerlein has made 32 of 34 field-goal attempts. He is averaging 11.7 points per game.

Making history

Running back Todd Gurley amassed 128 yards from scrimmage, but fell short of the 100-yard rushing mark for a fourth consecutive game.

"I'm just happy we won," Gurley said. "It feels good anytime you come away with a big win against a good team."

Gurley rushed for 74 yards in 17 carries. He caught four passes for 54 yards.

Nevertheless, Gurley is in some pretty exclusive company.

He has 1,344 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns this season, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to have at least 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in the first 11 games.

The other three are in the Hall of Fame: Elroy Hirsch (1951), Eric Dickerson (1983), and Faulk (2000).

Big returns

Receiver Pharoh Cooper has solidified his role as a playmaking returner.

Cooper returned four kickoffs, averaging 27.5 yards per return, and three punts, averaging 19.7 yards.

He returned the opening kickoff 40 yards to the Rams' 41-yard line. The series ended in a touchdown.

He also returned a punt 40 yards in the second half. Cooper caught one pass for nine yards.

Etc.

Linebacker Connor Barwin suffered a left arm injury and did not play in the second half. … Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was inactive because of a thigh injury, and running backs Lance Dunbar and Malcolm Brown were inactive because of knee injuries.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

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