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Jared Goff earns revenge over Rams; Lions grab first playoff victory in 32 years

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Jared Goff showed some Detroit grit.

The 29-year-old signal caller for the Detroit Lions led his team on three touchdown-scoring drives in the first half, then helped them put away the game late in a 24-23 victory over his former team, the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.

With the win, Goff moved past some of the bitterness that came with the Rams trading him away for Matthew Stafford and winning a Super Bowl without him. Only five players remain from the Rams’ team that won the Super Bowl two seasons ago. 

Detroit fans chanted Goff’s name throughout and booed their former quarterback, Stafford. It was the Lions’ first playoff victory since the 1991 postseason. 

“It means a lot, but this team is special,” said Goff when asked how he felt about beating his former team. “It’s about our team. It’s about the ’23 Lions. It’s about this squad. It’s about the people in the building. It’s about (Lions coach) Dan Campbell. It’s about us.” 

Added Campbell: “I thought (Goff) was on point. He looked loose. He looked relaxed and I thought he threw the ball with conviction. He was strong in the pocket, got us in the right play. And he felt that way all week. He just was locked in all week.” 

Goff was efficient, finishing 22 of 27 for 277 yards and a touchdown — and more importantly no turnovers. Goff completed his first 10 passes of the game. Goff and Rams head coach Sean McVay shared a hug near midfield after the game.

“Jared was really efficient,” McVay said after the game. “You could see the command that he had. I think there’s been a lot made of it, but I’m happy for him. Obviously, we wanted to come away with the win, but he’s done a great job. The grit, the resilience and the way he’s done his thing here over the last three years.

“I’m happy for Jared. And I’m certainly appreciative of the four years we had together. And I wouldn’t want anyone as our quarterback other than Matthew Stafford. He was outstanding. He was gritty. He made tough throw after tough throw.” 

Playing in front of the fans who rooted for him for 12 seasons while with the Lions, Stafford finished with 367 passing yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Puka Nacua, who finished with nine catches for 181 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown — setting a postseason rookie record for receiving yards in the process.

“It was a good playoff atmosphere,” Stafford said. “Obviously, it was a loud crowd. We did a good job of communicating the entire game. But it was a good playoff atmosphere.” 

While Stafford played well, the game was decided in the red zone. The Rams settled for three field goals in the red zone, while the Lions got three touchdowns, and that proved the deciding factor in the game.

“That was the difference,” Campbell said. “We wanted to be disruptive today. We were going to be aggressive. It wasn’t perfect, but at the end of the day we knew we had to limit points, to keep them out of the end zone. And we did that.”  

With the victory, the Lions will host the winner between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, while the Rams are done for the year.

Along with operating with efficiency in the red zone, the Lions owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Detroit’s offensive line kept Goff clean for the most part and helped them create balance by running the football. And Lions edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson finished with two sacks, keeping the guy who he rooted for as a kid in Stafford from wrecking the game.

Amon-Ra St. Brown led the Lions with seven catches for 110 yards, including the team’s final reception for 11 yards that put the game away. 

“That was arguably the best environment I’ve ever been in,” Campbell said about the crowd. “That was absolutely electric, and I think what’s crazy is I was coming down for pregame warm-up, and you could just feel it. It was humming. The building was humming, and I swear you could feel the electricity from down in the tunnel from where I was, and it only just grew from there.

“Man, our fans showed up in a big way.” 

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.


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