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Rams

Jared Goff uses all his weapons as Rams go to 4-0 for first time in 17 years

After hitting receiver Cooper Kupp in stride for a long touchdown pass Thursday night, Rams quarterback Jared Goff ran toward the Coliseum sideline and then leaped to chest-bump coach Sean McVay.

“He drilled me,” McVay said. “He got me pretty good.”

Goff apologized. Sort of.

“Told him after, ‘I didn’t mean to knock you over there,’” Goff said. “I was just fired up a little bit.”

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With good reason.

Goff was on his way to a career night, passing for 465 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings before 72,027 at the Coliseum.

Kupp and fellow receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods all caught touchdown passes and eclipsed more than 100 yards receiving as the Rams improved to 4-0.

They also once again showed they are more than ready for prime time. And perhaps much more.

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The Rams, who opened the season with a victory over the Oakland Raiders on “Monday Night Football,” put on a show for an electric crowd and a national-television audience.

They left no doubt that they rightfully belong among the favorites to advance to the Super Bowl.

“You can’t get much better than how we’re playing right now,” said running back Todd Gurley, who also caught an eight-yard touchdown pass that tied the score in the first quarter.

Goff continued the ascent that he began in 2017 and has taken to another level in the first quarter of the season.

The No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft completed 26 of 33 passes and became the first Rams quarterback since Kurt Warner in 1999 to pass for five touchdowns in a game.

“No moment is too big for him,” McVay said.

Though it was a short week, the game coming only four days after a victory over the Chargers at the Coliseum, McVay, Goff and the Rams showed that they clearly learned some things from last season’s loss to the Vikings.

The Rams were beaten 24-7 at Minneapolis in their worst offensive performance of the season.

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On Thursday night, they put together one of their best in 21 games under McVay, rolling up 556 yards.

“I’m not going to take away anything from their scheme,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, whose team fell to 1-2-1, “but it’s the same scheme we played last year and they had seven points.”

Now, however, Goff is seasoned.

He went into Thursday night’s game after a good performance against the Rai-ders, a better one against the Arizona Cardinals and an outstanding one against the Chargers.

“He’s an absolute playmaker with how he’s able to place the ball, how he’s able to slide in the pocket and make some of these throws,” said Kupp, who caught nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s just being Jared.”

Said Woods: “He’s playing amazing. He’s playing poised. He’s locked in.”

The Rams needed Goff to be at his best against a Vikings team led by quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The Vikings gave Cousins an $84-million guaranteed contract, and for much of the game he appeared to be worth every dollar.

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With star cornerback Aqib Talib recovering from ankle surgery and cornerback Marcus Peters playing despite a calf strain, Cousins picked apart the Rams’ secondary, matching Goff pass for pass.

He completed 36 of 50 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns.

The Vikings trailed 28-20 at halftime and 31-20 in the third quarter, but Cousins pulled them to within 31-28 with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen.

Goff, however, answered with a 31-yard scoring pass to Woods before the Vikings added a field goal to make it a seven-point deficit in the final minutes.

The Rams were forced to punt, and that’s when their defense finally stepped up.

“It came down to crunch time,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “That’s what we’re expected to do.”

The Vikings got the ball with just over two minutes left, but defensive tackle Aaron Donald sacked Cousins on first down.

Three plays later, rookie John Franklin-Myers sacked Cousins and stripped the ball for a fumble. Suh recovered the ball, and the Rams ran out the clock to secure the victory.

“Right before the play, Suh just came up to me and told me, like, ‘Stay consistent, stay with your rushes,’” Franklin-Myers said. “I just went to a speed rush, saw the quarterback and just swatted the ball.”

The Rams now have 10 days to prepare for a road game at Seattle.

“We’re really clicking right now and I feel good about where we’re at,” Goff said, “and we have a lot of season left ahead of us.”

gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein


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