• Quarterback Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates scoring a rushing touchdown during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson (27) breaks free for a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (33) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson (27) celebrates his touchdown run with Los Angeles Rams center Austin Blythe (66) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Running back Darrell Henderson #27 of the Los Angeles Rams runs the ball for a touchdown as strong safety Budda Baker #32 of the Arizona Cardinals defends during the second half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Wide receiver Shane Leatherbury #84 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a touchdown catch as cornerback Jalen Ramsey #20 of the Los Angeles Rams defends during the second half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Running back Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals scores a rushing touchdown during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals gets rid of the ball while under pressure from linebacker Justin Hollins #58 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals stiff-arms free safety John Johnson #43 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Running back Malcolm Brown #34 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Defensive tackle Greg Gaines #91 of the Los Angeles Rams reacts after recovering a fumble during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Budda Baker (32) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams looks on during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) battles Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Justin Murray (71) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) battles Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Justin Murray (71) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams offensive guard Austin Corbett (63) helps running back Cam Akers (23) up after Akers was stopped short on the goal line during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) runs the ball as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Budda Baker (32) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (89) makes a catch against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) defends against Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Greg Gaines (91) cheers after Arizona Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) missed a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (48) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • The Los Angeles Rams huddle during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) is hit by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (33) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Johnathan Joseph (25) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (48) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Running back Malcolm Brown #34 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball as cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals defends during the second half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Wide receiver KeeSean Johnson #19 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a reception as cornerback Troy Hill #22 of the Los Angeles Rams defends during the second half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Quarterback Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams is sacked by linebacker Dennis Gardeck #45 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals avoids a tackle from outside linebacker Samson Ebukam #50 of the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson #94 reacts after the Arizona Cardinals miss a field goal during the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Cornerback Troy Hill #22 of the Los Angeles Rams breaks up a pass to wide receiver Andy Isabella #17 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd #54 of the Los Angeles Rams sacks quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Quarterback Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams calls a play during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Running back Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball as defensive end Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams gives chase during the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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This time, Jared Goff made no mistake.

After sneaking for a 1-yard touchdown that put the Rams in charge on the first play of the fourth quarter, the quarterback let center Austin Blythe make the celebratory spike, so there would be no repeat of Goff’s famously flubbed spike earlier in the season.

Oh, and Goff also avoided the interceptions and fumbles that have plagued him lately in leading the Rams to a 38-28 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

The victory put the Rams (8-4) back in first place in the NFC West because the Seattle Seahawks (8-4) lost to the New York Giants and L.A. holds the tiebreaker because it beat Seattle in November.

Goff finished with 37 completions on 47 passes for 351 yards and touchdowns passing and rushing, and, crucially, no turnovers a week after he had three in a loss to San Francisco.

“I was very pleased with Jared Goff today,” coach Sean McVay said. “He did exactly what we expected him to do.”

That outshined Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who was held to 21 for 39 for 173 yards and three touchdown passes but a crucial pick-six and strip-sack, and rushed only five times for 15 yards.

Twenty of Goff’s completions went to wide receivers Robert Woods (10 for 85 yards) and Cooper Kupp (eight for 73). Rookie running back Cam Akers had another good game, carrying a career-high 21 times for 72 yards and a touchdown for the third straight week.

It was a one-possession game going to the fourth quarter, the Rams leading by a field goal.

A 39-yard field goal by Matt Gay had extended a 14-7 halftime lead to 10, but Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins responded with a 4-yard touchdown pass.

The Rams went back up by 10 when Goff sneaked for a 1-yard touchdown, but a fumble by punt returner Nsimba Webster at the L.A. 15 set up the Cardinals for a Kenyan Drake touchdown run from 4 yards out to cut it to three again.

The offense and defense both responded.

Goff led a 76-yard drive, exactly half of that coming when Darrell Henderson ran 38 yards untouched to put the Rams ahead 31-21.

As the Cardinals drove, Rams linebacker Justin Hollins sacked Murray and forced a fumble that nose tackle Greg Gaines recovered.

After Gay clanked a field-goal try off the left upright, the Cardinals were still alive. But Rams cornerback Troy Hill intercepted a Murray pass and ran it back 35 yards for a touchdown and a 17-point lead with 4:33 to play.

The Rams flipped the calendar to December hoping to turn the page from a 23-20 loss to San Francisco, a defeat that felt like a big step back after impressive wins over Seattle and Tampa Bay.

Goff’s two interceptions and one fumble against the 49ers drew unusually direct criticism from McVay. The Rams’ coach stated the obvious, that Goff needed to take better care of the ball. McVay usually takes all the blame for himself after poor performances.

Trying to make sure his players were ready, McVay moved Thursday’s practice from windy Thousand Oaks to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, and wondered aloud if he’d made a mistake by canceling a practice the previous Friday because of wind and what turned out to be false-positive COVID-19 tests for Rams personnel.

If the Rams had been inconsistent lately, so had the Cardinals, losers of two in a row since a dramatic win over Buffalo.

Midway through the first quarter, the Rams were down one touchdown and one running back.

Blown coverage downfield had let Murray hit a wide-open tight end Dan Arnold for a 59-yard touchdown on the Cardinals’ first drive, the longest play against the Rams’ defense this season.

On the Rams’ first possession, they lost Henderson to a knee injury for more than a quarter, meaning that Akers would continue to increase his workload.

Akers tied the game early in the second quarter, capping an 85-yard Rams drive by slamming 9 yards for his third touchdown in three games.

He wasn’t the only Rams rookie to come up big on that drive. Wide receiver Van Jefferson caught three passes, each putting Goff in a comfortable short-yardage situation.

The defense was bottling up Murray and Hopkins, whose duel with Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey was much anticipated.

After nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day batted down a Murray pass to force a punt from the Cardinals’ end zone, the Rams used good field position to go in front 14-7 on a Goff lob to tight end Tyler Higbee for a 1-yard touchdown with 51 seconds left in the half.

The lead could have been bigger. But on the previous possession, McVay passed up a short field goal to take the lead and Akers was stopped for no gain on fourth down at the Arizona 1.

That was the second time the Rams went for it on fourth down and failed. On the bright side, that was the only kind of turnover they were committing Sunday.

Goff had one of his best games of the season, in part because he didn’t throw an interception or commit a fumble for the first time since Week 4.

He’ll always have to live down that botched spike in Week 5 after a touchdown run against Washington, when the wet ball slipped out of his hand.

But that feels like a long time ago, and suddenly so do the disasters against the 49ers.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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