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Rams

Rams’ Jared Goff snaps out of slump in victory over Cardinals

PHOENIX, ARIZONA DECEMBER 23, 2018-Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass against the Cardinals a
Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

After struggling with efficiency the last three games, Rams quarterback Jared Goff got back into a groove Sunday in the Rams’ 31-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

Goff completed 19 of 24 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown.

It was a performance more typical of Goff during the first 11 weeks of the season, not the previous three during which he passed for one touchdown with six interceptions.

“Really ultimately happy about the completions,” Goff said. “Just getting the ball into guys’ hands and continuing to move the ball down the field.”

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Goff did not have a pass intercepted, but he did lose a fumble after running back C.J. Anderson collided with right tackle Rob Havenstein, leading to a sack.

Coach Sean McVay was pleased with Goff’s performance.

“I thought he had great command,” McVay said. “I thought he did an excellent job commanding the run game, did a good job recognizing coverage, getting the ball where it was supposed to go when we did decide to throw it.”

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Goff scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter after he faked a handoff and then ran around right end.

His 39-yard touchdown pass to receiver Robert Woods in the fourth quarter sealed the victory.

Goff has passed for 28 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions.

In good hands

Woods caught six passes for 89 yards and also scored his first career rushing touchdown.

“Enjoyable,” Woods said.

Woods, who a few weeks ago eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for the first time, set up the Rams’ first touchdown with receptions of six and 11 yards. He scored two plays later from the four-yard line on a fly-sweep.

In the fourth quarter, he broke free on a play-action touchdown pass.

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“We’d been setting them up with the run, and the safeties and the corner played aggressive and really just went with the fake,” Woods said. “I popped out the back end and it was a beautiful pass.

“I really just kept running and was catching it in stride.”

Rookie struggles

Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen, the 10th pick in this year’s draft, completed 12 of 23 passes for 87 yards and was sacked four times. He rushed for 49 yards.

The former Bellflower St. John Bosco High and UCLA standout has struggled along with the 3-12 Cardinals.

“I’ve started to evolve as a leader a little bit,” he said, when asked what he has improved on most this season. “I think guys are starting to listen to me. I think that they feel I’m starting to emerge into kind of one of those guys. I have to be better for them as a leader.”

What a rush

The Rams’ 269 rushing yards Sunday were just a yard shy of the team’s best effort since 2001. The offense also held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game and guard Rodger Saffold said those kinds of numbers are a good sign for a team heading into the playoffs.

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“The adrenaline is better. The confidence is up there,” he said. “It’s awesome to be able to run the ball the way we did. To just be methodical and moving the ball, to have the ball for over 3[7] minutes, that just lets you know where we can be.”

Three Rams’ possession lasted at least 11 plays; two were longer than six minutes. All three drives led to points.

“We need to look at this and figure out what went right,” Saffold said, “so that when we do get in those situations to where things might not be the same, we can be able to have the same output.

“We knew that we needed to show some resolve, especially being in a type of adversity that we hadn’t been through before. Now we need to use this momentum.”

The ending Fitz

Sunday’s loss to the Rams could mark the final home game for Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whose contract runs out when the season does. So the Cardinals did their best to let the future hall of famer know he was appreciated, running a series of “Fitzmas Season” promos on the scoreboard, featuring a youth choir singing over highlight-reel plays from Fitzgerald’s 15-year career.

“I couldn’t even bear to look honestly,” Fitzgerald, who got a loud ovation in the pregame introductions, said of the tribute. “It’s a little uncomfortable to be honest. I play a team sport. I’m not Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, guys who do individual things. Everything I’ve done in my life is in the context of a team setting.”

Fitzgerald, 35, then added one more memorable play to the Cardinals’ collection, throwing a 32-yard pass to David Johnson on a trick play for Arizona’s only touchdown.

“First touchdown I’ve thrown since high school,” he said. “I had the same pass a couple of years ago in Seattle and Michael Bennett got a little close to me. I’m not used to having defensive linemen around me so I short-armed it a little.”

Etc.

Safety Lamarcus Joyner left the game because of an ankle injury, but McVay did not supply an update. ... Cardinals kick returner Pharoh Cooper, a 2017 Pro Bowl pick who was waived last week by the Rams, returned one punt for one yard.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

kevin.baxter@latimes.com |

Twitter: @kbaxter11


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