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Rams

Rams show promise in 24-21 victory over Raiders

The Times’ Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry break down the Rams’ 24-21 victory over the Raiders in a preseason game, including a discussion about quarterback Jared Goff and an improved offense.

Jared Goff turned toward the Rams’ sideline and pumped his fist in celebration.

The Rams quarterback had just lofted a touchdown pass, the finishing touch on the opening drive of Saturday night’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

“I was excited,” he said. “Trying to get a little juice going.”

Goff played efficiently and led two other scoring drives before coach Sean McVay pulled all of his starters on offense late in the second quarter of the Rams’ 24-21 victory at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

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Backup quarterback Sean Mannion connected with rookie receiver Josh Reynolds on a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to put the Rams ahead.

Going forward, Goff and the offense must prove they can sustain their performance for more than a half, but McVay and Rams fans had to be encouraged by what the Rams showed in their second preseason game. “It seemed like we were able to get in a pretty good rhythm,” McVay said. “I thought Jared did a great job making good decisions.”

After playing only two series in the Rams’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Goff said in the days leading up to Saturday’s game that he aimed to establish a rhythm.

Goff, playing down the road from where he starred in college at California, accomplished his goal.

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In four series, he completed 16 of 20 passes for 160 yards, without an interception. Goff completed all four of his passes on the opening drive, connecting twice with receiver Robert Woods and once with rookie tight end Gerald Everett before finding wide-open rookie Cooper Kupp for 23-yard touchdown to give the Rams the early lead.

After an interception by cornerback Trumaine Johnson, Goff led another drive that culminated with Todd Gurley’s short touchdown run. And Goff directed a 16-play drive in the second quarter that ended with a Greg Zuerlein field goal.

Rookie receiver Cooper Kupp celebrates in the end zone after scoring his second touchdown of the pre
Rookie receiver Cooper Kupp celebrates in the end zone after scoring his second touchdown of the preseason.
(Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)
Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch had 10 yards in two carries against the Rams.
Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch had 10 yards in two carries against the Rams.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)
Raiders receiver Amari Cooper goes up and gets a football above Rams cornerback Kevin Peterson (47)
Raiders receiver Amari Cooper goes up and gets a football above Rams cornerback Kevin Peterson (47) and safety Cody Davis (38) during the first half of a preseason game on Aug. 19.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rams tight end Gerald Everett had four catches for 30 yards against the Raiders on Saturday at the O
Rams tight end Gerald Everett had four catches for 30 yards against the Raiders on Saturday at the O.Co Coliseum.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Goff did not complete any long passes, but he looked comfortable on play-action rollouts. He also showed good footwork in the pocket on several plays. He was sacked once, by reigning NFL defensive player of the year Khalil Mack.

For Goff, it was a definite step forward from last week. He had led the Rams to a touchdown after the Cowboys muffed a punt, but the scoring play came on a fumble that was recovered in the end zone. Goff then had a rough few days of practice. He had three passes intercepted on one day, two passes intercepted the next.

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But he appeared to leave those struggles behind on Saturday night, when new Rams receiver Sammy Watkins had a muted debut.

Goff connected with Watkins on two short passes but just missed on an attempt into the end zone from the 28-yard-line.

With the passing game mostly clicking, Gurley made strides toward leaving his disappointing 2016 season behind. Gurley carried eight times for 38 yards. His most impressive play came during the first drive, when he kept his legs moving and seemed to carry the entire Raiders defense on his back for a nine-yard gain and a first down.

While the Rams offense appears to be rounding into shape, the defense remains a question because of lineman Aaron Donald’s continued absence. For the second straight game, the Rams did not dress several other defensive starters, including Robert Quinn, Mark Barron and Kayvon Webster. In addition, slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman and cornerback Michael Jordan were held out.

Last week, the defense played well against a Cowboys team that held out all of its notable offensive players, including quarterback Dak Prescott.

After holding out starters in their first preseason game, the Raiders played all of their offensive weapons.

Quarterback Derek Carr played for the first time since suffering a broken leg. Running back Marshawn Lynch, back in his hometown after a one-year sabbatical, and receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree also played. Carr completed seven of nine passes for 100 yards, including touchdown passes to Lee Smith and Michael Crabtree.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein


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