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Jared Goff’s thumb injury cripples Rams’ playoff hopes along with loss to Seahawks

Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes under pressure from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes under pressure from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap during the first half Sunday.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Rams players and coach Sean McVay talked all season, and every season, about playing their best in late December when playoff runs are often born.

They are failing miserably — at least on offense.

On Sunday, for the second week in a row, quarterback Jared Goff and the offense wasted a strong defensive effort and jeopardized their playoff chances.

The Rams did not score a touchdown in a 20-9 defeat by the newly crowned NFC West-champion Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field in Seattle.

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The Rams, coming off a defeat by the previously winless New York Jets, dropped to 9-6 heading into next Sunday’s finale against the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium. The Rams must win — or have the Chicago Bears lose to the Green Bay Packers — to avoid missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs after escaping with a 17-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Goff’s availability for the finale is questionable. A franchise player who has started all but one of 74 regular-season and postseason games since 2016 suffered what appeared to be a dislocated right thumb in the third quarter. Goff popped the thumb back into place and completed the game.

Will he be available against the Cardinals?

“I am uncertain,” Goff said. “We will see.”

If Goff cannot play against the Cardinals, backup John Wolford — an undrafted free agent who played in the defunct Alliance of American Football — would play for the first time.

John Wolford has no NFL regular-season snaps, but he believes in his skills and says he’ll be ready to go if Jared Goff’s streak of good fortune ends.

Goff has passed for 20 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. His uneven play is the Rams’ most obvious problem. But it’s not the only one for a team that has lost two games in row for the first time this season.

McVay, the play-caller, blamed himself for the Rams’ woes. It has been a “humbling, tough, up-and-down year,” he said after the Rams failed to score a touchdown for the fourth time in his four seasons and produced their fewest points in more than a year.

“My job is to put these guys in better spots, and I don’t think I’ve consistently done a good enough job of that,” McVay said, adding, “Like I tell our players all the time, ‘I see a lot better than I hear.’ Talk is cheap, we’ve gotta see the production, and ultimately when you look at it, I can be honest with myself and I don’t feel like I’ve done a good enough job.”

Goff completed 24 of 43 passes for 234 yards, but he made a critical mistake in the second quarter. On first down at the Seahawks’ 29-yard line, he took a snap and rolled to his right. Rather than holding onto the ball and rushing for yardage, he inexplicably passed the ball into a seeming no-man’s land, where it was intercepted by Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs.

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister forces a fumble by the Rams' Nsimba Webster.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister, right, forces a fumble by the Rams’ Nsimba Webster on a punt return in the second half Sunday.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Goff lamented that he was “trying to get cute with something” in attempting to get the ball to receiver Robert Woods. It resulted in what Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, described as one of the worst plays of his career.

“A dumb play,” he said. “It was just stupid.”

Goff narrowly avoided another turnover. With the Rams trailing 13-6 in the third quarter, running back Darrell Henderson’s short run to the two-yard line gave them first and goal. Henderson suffered an ankle injury on the play.

The Seahawks stopped running back Malcolm Brown for a loss, and then stopped him short of the goal line on the next play. Goff fumbled on a failed sneak attempt, but officials determined that the Seahawks had not recovered the ball beneath the pile.

The Seahawks ended the threat when they stuffed Brown on fourth down.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson secured the victory with a touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Hollister with less than three minutes left. Wilson completed 20 of 32 passes for 225 yards and touchdown, and also rushed for a score.

Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and cornerback Jalen Ramsey did not blame the offense, saying the defense needed to create turnovers. After scoring off turnovers in three consecutive games, the Rams did not force a turnover for the second game in a row.

For only the third time since 2002 a losing team is set to make the NFL playoffs, but which NFC East team will finish at the top of the division?

“We didn’t give the offense any opportunity to get momentum or spark,” said Joseph-Day, who had one of the Rams’ five sacks.

The Rams have to “turn it up a notch” going into their finale, Ramsey said.

“We know what we have in front of us and we have to make it happen,” he said. “That’s hopefully what we’ll do. … [You’re] not going to see any smiling faces. We’re about business and we need to get it together ASAP.”

Goff agreed.

“We need to figure it out,” he said. “I’m sorry that this is happening, obviously, but we will figure it out. We have in the past and we’ll keep believing and we will move forward.”

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 20-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday.


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