Less than two weeks after Jared Goff broke his thumb at Lumen Field, the Los Angeles Rams quarterback returned to Seattle, came off the bench, and led the Rams to a brave 30:20 win over division champions Seahawks in the Wildcard on Saturday game.
The win avenged a week 16 loss to the Seahawks that stopped the Rams from playing for the NFC West title and promoted Los Angeles to the next round of the playoffs.
“Two weeks ago you saw them smoking cigars and looking forward to beating us and winning the division and we can come here and beat them on their own,” said Goff after the game. “It feels good.”
The Rams will play for the Green Bay Packers next weekend when the New Orleans Saints beat the visiting Chicago Bears on Sunday. If the bears prevail, the Rams will play the winner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Washington Football Team matchup on Saturday.
The Rams’ triumph breaks the Seahawks with 10 home games in a row, making it the third-longest such streak in NFL history after the season. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, no fans were allowed to be present on Saturday.
While Goff continued to recover from surgery on his thumb on December 28, John Wolford began his second career. But it ended abruptly at 5:40 to play in the first quarter. Wolford rushed to make a 2 yard profit on a scheduled run but suffered a neck injury when he was tackled and taken to a hospital as a precaution.
According to Rams coach Sean McVay, Wolford was released after the game and celebrated with the team in the locker room.
With a small bandage on his surgically repaired thumb, Goff entered the game and completed 9 of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown when the Rams broke a two-game series with no offensive result.
“He’s pretty impressive to be able to throw the football,” said McVay. “There were a couple of caveats that led to the decision to go with John. I was very happy with Jared and I think it was a real honor for him to get this week right and getting mentally ready.”
Though he didn’t publicly disclose a starter before kick-off, McVay announced on Wednesday that Wolford, who led the Rams to an 18-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals in its first NFL start in Week 17, was in the wildcard -Playoffs would start.
“It was tough,” said Goff of McVay’s decision. “It’s been some long conversations we’ve had but in the end I respect his decision. He’s the coach. He had to make a decision that he had to make earlier this week to get out of some things and I understand, but as Of course, I wanted to play a competitor. “
Goff said his thumb felt good throughout the game and refused to use it as an excuse for inefficiencies, despite admitting it wasn’t 100 percent.
“It’s in a good place and I’m very capable of what I’m about to do,” said Goff.
According to a study by ESPN Stats & Information, Goff’s 155 passes were the highest number of passes a player from the bench scored in a playoff win since Jay Fielder’s 172 passes for the Jaguars in their 62-7 win over the Dolphins in the 1999 division round , a game best known as Dan Marino’s Last Career Game.
When Goff was unable to play 12 days after surgery, he had a lot of support from his field. Cam Akers ran back 131 yards – most by a Rams rookie in playoff history – and a touchdown to 28 carries and two passes for 45 yards.
“It was huge,” said McVay. “We could control the time of ownership and only eat a few meters at a time.”
The Rams controlled the clock from 33:39 to 26:21. And under First Year Coordinator Brandon Staley, the Rams’ senior defense repressed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and frustrated leading wide-angle receiver DK Metcalf.
Rams cornerback Darious Williams read a screen from Wilson, intercepted his pass, and returned it for a 42 yard touchdown to give the Rams a 13-3 lead in the second quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, there were 784 wide-range screen badges and no interceptions this regular season.
“This is a game I knew was going to happen,” said Williams, who has picked up Wilson three times this season and has the team’s top five interceptions. “I knew they would try to play a part [Metcalf], somehow get him the ball, let him break the tackles, and I just ran and jumped him. “
In the second half, the Rams were able to restrict Wilson to a touchdown pass, although two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald left the game early in the third quarter with a rib injury. Donald returned to the sidelines but did not re-enter the game.
McVay didn’t provide an update on Donald or wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury.
As for Metcalf’s frustrations, Williams attributed cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who lined up against Metcalf on 22 of 32 routes. Metcalf had 3 receptions for 33 yards on 7 targets when Ramsey was the next defender, according to NFL Next Gen Stats data.
“That’s all Jalen,” said Williams. “I’m not blaming [Metcalf] for being frustrated. “
Wilson was sacked five times, finishing the 11-of-27 game for 174 yards and two touchdowns, both according to Metcalf, including a 51-yard score.