Jared Goff and Lions put a scare in the Rams but can’t put win on scoreboard

Lions quarterback Jared Goff talks with former teammate,  wide receiver Robert Woods, after the game at SoFi Stadium.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff talks with former teammate, wide receiver Robert Woods, after the game at SoFi Stadium.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

On a miserable Sunday for a lot of quarterbacks — just ask Patrick Mahomes, Justin Fields and the benched Sam Darnold — somehow Detroit’s Jared Goff came through relatively unscathed.

Oh, Goff will be feeling it Monday morning. He got clocked by the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey on a corner blitz, and later was obliterated by Aaron Donald on the game’s pivotal play. But Goff, facing his former team for the first time, accounted for himself pretty well in a 28-19 loss at SoFi Stadium.

In the end, that doesn’t count for much. The Rams are 6-1 and still rolling; the Lions remain the NFL’s only winless team at 0-7. Yet this could have gone so much worse for the quarterback Los Angeles selected first overall in 2016.


“We’re 0-7 and need to make something happen here,” said Goff, who completed 22 of 36 passes for 268 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. “But at the same time, playing the way we did today and having so much positivity happen is good to see. But it’s still not enough.”

After the game, Rams coach Sean McVay made a point of tracking down Goff and giving him a hug. Whether that was a move for the cameras or a from-the-heart gesture, it briefly broke the icy impasse between the two that began when the quarterback fell out of favor and McVay started looking elsewhere, a search that ended with the acquisition of former Lions star Matthew Stafford in a rare quarterback-for-quarterback swap.

Rams coach Sean McVay had to deal with questions all week about playing against Jared Goff. Sunday’s win over Detroit gave him the opportunity to move on.

Oct. 24, 2021

Goff and McVay had a quick embrace and shared a few words, then Goff moved on to reconnect with various other old teammates, including a long bear hug with left tackle Andrew Whitworth. The quarterback said he hadn’t really thought about it before, but he hadn’t seen a lot of these guys since the Rams traded him.

Goff and Stafford aren’t operating in a vacuum, so it’s a little tough to perfectly compare them. They’re both driving different offenses. This is Ford versus Ferrari.

But what we saw Sunday is the difference between a capable and worthy NFL quarterback in Goff, and an elite one in Stafford.

The Lions stayed in the game with a long blitz-beating touchdown on the opening drive, three successful trick plays — a surprise onside kick and two fake punts — a sprinkling of nice throws by Goff, and various screens, draws and the like.


But when they needed the big play from Goff, the huge throw under a massive surge of pressure, they didn’t get it. That’s OK. Most NFL quarterbacks wouldn’t be able to make that play.

The Rams, however, got those throws from Stafford. He coolly stood in the pocket and threw darts to his receivers. He completed 28 of 41 passes for 334 yards with three touchdowns and no turnovers. It wasn’t a pristine game, and he wasn’t facing a smothering defense, but he handled it the way an elite quarterback would.

Check out some of the best images from the Los Angeles Rams’ 28-19 victory over Jared Goff and Detroit Lions at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

Oct. 24, 2021

After the Lions scored a touchdown on the opening drive, they had four field goals the rest of the way. The trick plays kept the Rams offense on the sideline — the Lions held the ball more than five minutes longer — but resulted in just three points.

The crowd at SoFi was pretty loud, but there didn’t seem to be any boos for Goff. Then again, why would people boo him? He never asked to leave.

“I’ve got a lot of memories with a lot of those guys,” he said. “A lot of lifelong friendships. We did some pretty special things in my five years here. It’s something I’m definitely proud of.”

The Lions, trailing by six, assembled a 63-yard drive and converted four third downs with a drive that consumed much of the fourth quarter. They moved all the way to the 12 and were in striking range of taking the lead when Donald burst through the middle and hit Goff as he was trying to connect with tight end T.J. Hockenson in the end zone.


What started as a pass turned into an awkward hook shot that Ramsey intercepted and returned 25 yards, dousing the threat.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey returns an interception of a pass by Lions quarterback Jared Goff in the fourth quarter.
Jalen Ramsey returns an end-zone interception of a pass by Lions quarterback Jared Goff in the fourth quarter to seal the Rams’ victory.
(Luis Sinco)

“Aaron Donald, man, we did a pretty good job for most of the day, then he gets us on one and there you go,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “You can go a whole game and then all of a sudden something like that happens and it’s too much. It’s too good of a football team.”

The Lions began the game by pushing every button on the Madden controller. They scored a touchdown on the opening drive when D’Andre Swift caught a short pass from Goff, stumbled a bit, regained his footing and outran the defense for a 63-yard score.

Detroit followed that touchdown with a successful surprise onside kick, and later converted on a pair of fake punts. It was wild, and Goff was loving it. Campbell kept the onside-kick plan under wraps from everyone, including his players.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 28-19 victory over the Lions at SoFi Stadium on Sunday — scoring and statistics.

Oct. 24, 2021

“Dan didn’t tell anybody until today,” Goff said. “They’ve got a high-powered offense and we wanted to keep those guys off the field. At the same time, we’re running the ball well, we’re doing some good things on offense that’s getting us back on the field. That was definitely part of the plan for him and it worked, obviously.”


Clearly, it didn’t all work out to plan. The Lions are still in search of that elusive victory. They play host to two-win Philadelphia on Sunday, so there will be more opportunities.

Goff isn’t Stafford. But Sunday, Detroit’s new leader showed the Lions he’s inching closer to the player they want him to be.