As a rookie, and at times during his second NFL season, Rams quarterback Jared Goff sneaked peeks during games to see how elite opposing quarterbacks such as Tom Brady or Drew Brees were performing.
“I feel much more confident in myself where I don’t feel like I need to,” Goff said Wednesday. “I see myself more as a peer now and not so much star-struck.”
Goff, 24, has led the Rams to a 10-1 record and is one of the NFL’s top-rated quarterbacks heading into Sunday’s road game against the Detroit Lions.
So Goff won’t be monitoring Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford as the Rams try to clinch their second consecutive NFC West title.
“We’ve won the games to put ourselves in this opportunity, so go take advantage of it and go have fun and go seize the moment,” Goff said. “These are the games that truly can make things happen and we know that.”
Goff is coming off what was arguably the most productive game of his career.
In Week 11, on “Monday Night Football,” he passed for four touchdowns and ran for one in a 54-51 comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that sent the Rams into their week off on a high note.
But when Goff reviewed the game, the third-year pro said there was room for improvement.
“I’ve played a lot of good games and I thought I played pretty well,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m going to crown that as my best ever.
“I thought it was pretty good, but we got a lot of work to do.”
Goff lamented two strip-sack fumbles, one that resulted in a touchdown.
“I wish I would’ve taken care of the ball a little bit better,” he said.
But it was Goff’s ability to rebound from “negative” plays and respond to lead changes that stood out, coach Sean McVay said.
During the fourth quarter, Goff twice passed for touchdowns to Gerald Everett to put the Rams ahead. His 40-yard strike to Everett with less than two minutes left provided the winning margin.
“There’s always room for improvement,” McVay said, “but I think his ability to be at his best in those critical moments was big for our team.”
Goff is on pace for a better statistical performance than he produced in 2017, when he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in his first season under McVay.
Goff completed 62% of his passes for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. He passed for 300 yards or more five times.
With five games remaining in this season, he has completed 68% of his passes for 3,547 yards and 26 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He has eclipsed 300 yards passing seven times, and has twice passed for more than 400 yards, including a 413-yard performance against the Chiefs.
Two years ago, Lions coach Matt Patricia was the New England Patriots defensive coordinator when Goff and the Rams visited Gillette Stadium under former coach Jeff Fisher. Goff, making his third pro start, completed 14 of 32 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions, in a 26-10 defeat.
Patricia noted the changes since.
“He’s just come such a long way,” Patricia said Wednesday during a teleconference. “You can see his maturation through this process, and him being a guy that’s really settling down where I think the game has slowed down for him.”
Goff said he was back up to speed and on point in his preparation for the Lions after returning from a welcomed week off.
He spent Thanksgiving with his family in Northern California. He also joined major league baseball players Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas, and the Ventura County YMCA as part of “California Strong,” which was organized to raise money and awareness to help those affected by the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks and fires in Northern and Southern California.
“So happy to help all these people that need it and just try to do my part,” he said. “I’ve got a decent following now where I can spread that word and hopefully can help all these people that really need it right now.”