Jared Goff struggles with spiking the ball, but little else in Rams’ win over Washington
After crossing the goal line for a touchdown, Rams quarterback Jared Goff took a few steps, excitedly wound up his right arm and got ready to deliver an exclamation point Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
The Rams were on their way to what would be a 30-10 victory over Washington.
“I went for like a super spike,” Goff said during a videoconference with reporters. “I was trying to like really get one.”
Rain, however, made for slippery conditions. Instead of driving the ball into turf, Goff instead watched it embarrassingly squirt away.
“I’m sure I’ll hear a lot about that for a long time,” Goff said.
Any ribbing Goff endures about the miscue will be offset by satisfaction from another good performance that helped the Rams improve to 4-1 and finish their conquest of the NFC East.
Goff passed for 309 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, Darrell Henderson scored two touchdowns and Aaron Donald and Troy Reeder combined for seven sacks in a victory that completed the Rams’ sweep of what appears to be the NFL’s weakest division.
Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defense harassed Alex Smith and Washington, but the veteran quarterback’s return from a career-threatening broken leg wasn’t lost on the Rams.
Next Sunday’s marquee matchup against the defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers figures to be a much tougher test than the ones the Rams faced while dispatching the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Washington (1-4).
The NFC East is seemingly so bad — and for the taking — it was one of the reasons Washington coach Ron Rivera gave for replacing quarterback Dwayne Haskins with Kyle Allen, and elevating Alex Smith to the backup.
Allen was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, enabling Smith to play for the first time since suffering a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that required 17 surgeries.
“One of the most amazing things in football history,” Goff said of Smith’s comeback, adding, “I’ll be able to tell people forever that I watched that, that I saw that happen.”
But Donald and Reeder, starting in place of leading-tackler Micah Kiser, spoiled Smith’s otherwise heroic return. Donald had four sacks, Reeder three. Smith completed nine of 17 passes for 37 yards.
“I was standing there watching him warm up thinking, ‘Wow, this guy went from almost losing his leg to being able to play football again,’ ” Reeder said.
For Alex Smith’s father, Doug, it was emotional and inspiring to see his son play quarterback Sunday for the first time since his gruesome leg injury.
The Rams endured rain throughout the game — and their third cross-country trip in four weeks — to give coach Sean McVay a victory in the stadium where he spent seven seasons as a Washington assistant.
Defensive lineman Michael Brockers said many teammates were excited about the rain, not only because, “a lot of guys haven’t seen rain in a little bit,” but because the offense’s playbook “shrinks” in those conditions because quarterbacks can’t grip the ball.
“I’m like licking my chops,” Brockers said. “I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re going to try and run the ball — it’s about to get grimy.’ ”
The Rams limited Washington to 108 yards, including only 38 rushing.
Goff and the offense appeared mostly unaffected by the conditions, scoring on their first three possessions and showing consistent big-play capability for the first time as they amassed 429 yards.
Goff entered the game as the NFL’s eighth-rated passer, but he had yet to take any deep shots.
That changed on the first play of the second quarter.
With the Rams trailing 7-6, Goff faked a handoff to Henderson, dropped back and lofted a long pass down the left sideline. Receiver Robert Woods caught the ball in stride for a 56-yard touchdown.
The Chargers’ off week has been moved from mid-November to Week 6, which begins immediately after their game Monday in New Orleans.
The Rams never trailed again.
“We’d just been waiting for opportunities,” Goff said. “We’ve had shot plays called this year and either I didn’t throw it or it wasn’t there, whatever reason. But this one, it was there.”
Woods’ touchdown was one of several big plays. Receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Gerald Everett turned mid-range passes into 49- and 40-yard gains, respectively. Rookie running back Cam Akers returned from a rib injury that sidelined him for two games and broke off a 46-yard run.
“We’ve always known what our offense is capable of down the field,” Goff said. “[Sunday] we were able to show it a little bit.”
Goff completed his first 10 passes and finished 21 of 30 passes, with an interception. He also scrambled for the two-yard touchdown that will be best remembered for his comedic spike attempt.
“That will definitely be in the highlights,” McVay said. “We’ll get after him pretty good.”
Said Kupp: “I was pumped to see it because I’m looking forward to coach putting that up on the big screen” at Monday’s team meeting.
Klein reported from Los Angeles
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