Plaschke: Rams quarterback Jared Goff plays beyond pain and doubt


Jared Goff was on the bench. There is no other way to write it. There was no other way to see him.
The Rams’ Super Bowl quarterback was benched in the playoffs for a guy who had played in an NFL game. The Rams’ $ 134 million quarterback with a surgically repaired right thumb was healthy enough to activate, but was benched for a guy who had yet to throw an NFL touchdown pass.

Going with John Wolford on Saturday was the smart call, the right choice, but it was a bold call that could rock the franchise, and when their NFC wild card playoff battle began in Seattle, the Rams were beset by a cold question. .

Where does Jared Goff go from here? Are you trying to trade it? Are you losing his confidence? How do you deal with a team leader who has been ordered to take a seat during the greatest part of the season?

Where does Jared Goff go from here?

It turns out that, just 10 minutes after kick-off, he takes off his mask and pulls out his headphones and walks into the game.

He leaves, trembling. He goes carelessly. But damn it, he’s coming and going, replacing the injured Wolford with a cautious and shrewd version of himself, leading the Rams to a 30-20 victory and a trip to next week’s NFC Semifinals, also known as the divisional patrol name.

He goes from sheepishly stalking a dark corner of the sidelines to running across the field pumping his fists and screaming, that’s where he’s going.

“It feels good,” he said afterward, quiet satisfaction filling his voice. “It feels really good.”

It’s really weird to praise a quarterback who was nine for 19 for 155 yards and a touchdown. But that seems really fitting, given that Goff has ultimately done the only thing he needs to do – make no mistakes and let your top defense do the rest.

It was one of his scariest hours, held breaths with every wobbly pass, a constant worry that the player with the most NFL turnovers since 2019 would lose control against a flying Seahawks defense.

Rams quarterback John Wolford is treated by medics after being injured against the Seattle Seahawks in the first period. He suffered a neck injury and was taken to a local hospital.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Yet oddly enough, it was one of his best hours, as he struggled through the thumb and doubt to make three big plays that led to 17 points, including a 15-yard touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter to a wide open Robert. Woods to pick it up.

“We felt like John [Wolford] was really getting ready to get into a rhythm and then Jared stepped in and handled things incredibly well, ”Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You could see he had just fought… I was really happy with his efforts… a real merit for him.

Beaten around every corner, he did. Goff shrugged off his first bench embarrassment since becoming the starter four seasons ago. He winced at the discomfort of having three pins inserted into his broken right thumb during the operation a dozen days earlier. It wasn’t pretty, but he showed a gritty side of himself that Rams fans have been waiting to see.

Jared Goff, survivor.

“My thumb is fine, I’m not going to use it as an excuse for anything that hasn’t happened in my direction today,” he said. “It’s not 100% … but it’s in the right place.”

OK, so when the game started, how was your mood?

“It was difficult, as a competitor of course I wanted to be there and I wanted to play, and I felt like I could, I felt I could make a difference,” he said. he declares.

McVay claimed his choice was based on Goff’s physical condition – “The pre-game thought process was that our quarterback had thumb surgery” – but he also admitted to making the decision and advising the team at the start of the week. That meant he wasn’t waiting for updates on Goff’s thumb rehab. And Goff was obviously healed enough to play, otherwise McVay would have activated Blake Bortles.

Make no mistake, Goff has been benched. And of course McVay made the right call. Versatile Wolford was the right quarterback. This was obvious because their second possession of the game, when Wolford led the attack for 60 yards from the field, completed a few passes for 28 total yards, moved them to a Seahawks’ first down down 20.

Then football happened.

On a designed run, two yards past the line of scrimmage, Wolford was struck to the ground and then nailed in the head by the flying right shoulder of the Seahawks’ Jamal Adams. It was a cheap shot. It was illegal shooting. It should have been reported.

Under his helmet Wolford narrowed his eyes in pain. Before half-time, he left the stadium in an ambulance and neck brace. He then returned to the locker room after suffering what McVay called “a sting”.

“It’s too bad John was injured… I thought he could see the pitch really well,” said McVay.

Goff immediately looked like the usual frustrating Goff. On his second play, he was sacked and Rams had to settle for a 40-yard field goal. In Goff’s second set, he had a knockdown and a slap pass. In his third series, he threw the ball wildly at everyone.

He didn’t look prepared. He looked hurt. He looked shaken. He smiled later. “I was ready to go,” he said, adding a not-so-subtle reminder. “I’ve played big games before.”

Indeed, things started to happen. Early in the second quarter, Cooper Kupp bailed him out by coming back for an under-thrown ball and turning it into a 44-yard finish that led to a 39-yard field goal by Matt Gay.

And on his next streak, a third and nine deep into Rams territory, a scrambled Goff threw a short pass that the incredible Cam Akers turned into a 44-yard gain that ultimately led to the rush of Five-yard touchdown from Akers. the Rams have a 20-10 halftime lead that they’ve never lost.

Goff later ended up with a wobbly but perfect pass that Woods carried in the end zone and a date next weekend in Green Bay or Tampa Bay.

Who will be the starting quarterback…?

“Jared did a great job today, he’s our quarterback,” McVay said, but then quickly added, “A lot of it will depend on how Jared’s thumb checks. ”

So it’s Goff. May be. Probably. For the moment.


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