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Forced to step up, Jared Goff delivered a near-comeback against the Bills

Rams quarterback Jared Goff sets to throw against the Buffalo Bills.
Jared Goff was able to use his offseason practice of stepping up in a closing pocket and throwing when the Rams’ quarterback faced the Buffalo Bills.
(Brett Carlsen / Associated Press)

The goal is to keep moving forward.

During offseason workouts and training camp, Rams quarterback Jared Goff focused on doing just that in the pocket.

After coach Sean McVay mostly kept Goff on the move to the left and right during the first two games this season, Goff’s sturdiness in the pocket was on display against the Buffalo Bills.

The fifth-year pro stepped up in heavy traffic several times and delivered completions that helped the Rams overcome a 25-point deficit. The Rams ultimately fell short in defeat, but Goff showed improved strength heading into Sunday’s game against the winless New York Giants at SoFi Stadium.

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“Definitely something that was an emphasis this offseason, of being sturdy and being able to make those throws from not a great base and being accurate,” Goff said Wednesday during a videoconference with reporters.

Goff has passed for five touchdowns, with two interceptions, for a Rams team that is 2-1 after victories over the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles and the defeat to the Bills. He is completing 70% of his passes for an offense that is averaging 449.7 yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL. The Rams are averaging 29.7 points per game, which ranks seventh. They lead the league in third-down conversions at 56.4%

“That all comes through the quarterback,” Giants coach Joe Judge told reporters during a videoconference Wednesday.

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Against the Bills, Goff passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception. He also rushed for a touchdown. Coach Sean McVay described the performance as Goff’s best of the season.

“His pocket movement, his ability to navigate and be able to move while keeping his eyes down the field and make some big-time throws was outstanding,” McVay said. “Just the caliber of plays he made and then just the poise that was demonstrated from him as he was bringing us back.”

Since 2017, Goff has worked out during the offseason at the 3DQB training center in Orange County. He said that this past offseason he and motion performance expert Adam Dedeaux agreed to emphasize pocket presence in unpredictable conditions.

Darrell Henderson hadn’t carried the rushing load since college, but the Rams’ second-year back excelled versus Buffalo for his first 100-yard NFL game.

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“Just wanting to be a little bit more active and be able to throw from not necessarily a perfect pocket all the time,” Goff said.

Goff said he relies on “muscle memory” to help execute the mechanics he practiced during drills designed to test him when the pocket and his base are not perfect.

“It’s kind of like, ‘Where do you want your weight and energy going?’ ” Goff said. “I think what we really focused on is keeping it going forward towards the throw.

“At times through my career, and every quarterback in the league, when you’re throwing, your energy and momentum is either going to go towards it or it’s going to leak away. ... I’m really trying to do my best to be as good as I can at it.”

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Goff has benefited this season from his work with new offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who also serves as untitled quarterbacks coach.

“He’s been another voice, not only for Sean on game plan and stuff, but for me,” Goff said, “and being there every day for me and being able to bounce stuff off him and I think it’s always interesting and good.”

Etc.

Rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (knee) was designated for return from the injured list, the Rams announced. His 21-day window for activation to the roster will begin this week, McVay said. “He can start practicing, but it doesn’t affect anybody else’s status,” McVay said. “And then that enables us to be able to make a decision accordingly.”…. Running back Cam Akers (rib), defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (ankle), receiver Josh Reynolds (illness) and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (scheduled rest) did not practice. Safety Jordan Fuller (shoulder) was limited.


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