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Rams

Rookie quarterback Jared Goff makes progress, but it’s not enough in Rams’ loss to Saints

Jared Goff

Rams quarterback Jared Goff is sacked by Saints linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (59) and defensive end Cameron Jordan during the fourth quarter.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The noise blasting from the vast, dark reaches of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome didn’t rattle Jared Goff,  not even when fans erupted in roars in an effort to distract the Rams and their rookie quarterback on third-down plays. 

“It was loud,” Goff said Sunday, but he managed to block out the tumult and keep himself and his teammates focused.

“I think we were good with the noise,” tight end Lance Kendricks said. “He was clear.”

If any sound they heard continues to ring in the Rams’ ears for the next few days, it will be the jaunty notes of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the New Orleans Saints’ touchdown song. Those Saints marched in seven times Sunday. Seven.

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Talk of Goff and his undeniable progress and increasing poise couldn’t and shouldn’t outweigh all that the Rams did wrong in their 49-21 loss, their sixth defeat in their last seven games and a surprisingly weak defensive performance by a team whose defense had been its great strength.

Goff, seemingly restricted last week against the Miami Dolphins in his regular-season NFL debut, was allowed to let it rip. He did, completing 20 of 32 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, though all three were in the first half. Too bad the Rams’ defense was ripped to shreds by the Saints, a week after it faltered in the final minutes against Miami.

Goff recorded a number of firsts on Sunday in his second regular-season NFL game and start. He threw his first touchdown, a 24-yard pass to Tavon Austin on the Rams’ first drive of the game, and hit Kenny Britt on a six-yard pass to put them ahead, 14-7, early in the second quarter. His performance in a two-minute drive late in the second quarter ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Kendricks, cutting New Orleans’ lead to 28-21 and giving his teammates confidence in him.

“He came out spitting it that first half,” running back Todd Gurley said. “But as far as running backs, line, everybody, we didn’t do our part to make him have a successful second half. We have to look back at this game and make sure that we correct what we need to correct to give him an opportunity to do what he did in the first half.”

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Goff recorded a few other firsts that were less pleasant. There was his first fumble, which resulted when he was sacked by Sheldon Rankins at the Rams’ 17-yard line and put the Saints in position for a short touchdown drive that ended with a one-yard leap by Drew Brees. Then there was Goff’s first interception, a pass that was picked off by Kenny Vaccaro at the Rams’ 49 early in the third quarter but didn’t lead to a Saints score … for once.

He’s still looking for another first — his first win — but did win praise from teammates who saw him growing more assured and commanding as a starter. Given his current rate of progress, imagine how much further along Goff might have been  if the Rams had made him the starter sooner, for instance after their loss to the New York Giants at London on Oct. 23. The Rams had a week off before their next game against  Carolina on Nov. 6.

“He doesn’t seem like a rookie,” said Andrew Donnal, who entered the game as a substitute left tackle late in the first half. “He’s confident, he demands everyone’s attention, and everyone respects him, so he’s doing a great job. He’s really leading the offense.”

Kendricks saw the same leadership potential in Goff.

“I thought he did good managing the offense. I think he’s improving,” Kendricks said. “I think he did really good, especially in the first half. We were able to put up three touchdown passes so I think he’s getting better. That’s all you can ask from a young quarterback.”

Goff, though, is asking more of himself.

“I don’t think there are any moral victories,” he said. “For me, I felt a lot more comfortable in my second game. From my experience, I just felt better out there and was able to see it a lot better. The game slowed down for me a lot more today.

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“But at the same time, I want to win. I don’t want to be out here saying I’m happy with what we did, or what I did, or anything in between, because I’m really not if we don’t win. And that’s the bottom line.”

The real bottom line was that the Saints marched in and all over the Rams on Sunday, pushing them closer to another lost season.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

Twitter: @helenenothelen


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