Jared Goff might be the best thing on Thursday nights since “Seinfeld.”

Asked what his success in Thursday games is about, the Rams’ quarterback said it’s about nothing.

“I treat it like any other game,” Goff said Tuesday, two days after the Rams beat the Arizona Cardinals and two days before they face the New England Patriots at SoFi Stadium.

“We usually do a good job of preparing. I’ve felt really comfortable on Thursday nights, and hope it’ll be the same this week.”

But others have theories about why the short week of practice before games like this, a hardship for most NFL players, seems to suit Goff so well.

“Maybe he plays that much freer, looser, whatever it is. But there’s no doubt he’s had success in these games,” offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said on this week’s only full day of practice.

O’Connell said Goff has the confidence in himself and his receivers to execute plays in Thursday games that the Rams didn’t have time to try out on the practice field.

“I think that gives him the ability to play free and just play with fast eyes and be really assertive and convicted in what he does, and his talent takes over from there,” O’Connell said.

Goff buys that idea and said his confidence comes from having played with top receiving targets Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett for four years.

“That does help, having some continuity, and being able to go out there and, if you haven’t figured it out during the week, being able to figure it out in real time and adjust,” Goff said.

Since a poor showing in a Thursday night loss in Seattle as a rookie in 2016, Goff has played in three Thursday games and completed 70% of his passes, averaged 384 yards per game, thrown for nine touchdowns and one interception, and been sacked only once.

Goff’s passer ratings in the Rams’ 41-39 win at San Francisco in 2017 (145.8) and 38-31 victory over Minnesota in 2018 (158.3) are No. 3 and No. 1 on his career list. He wasn’t bad in the Rams’ 30-29 loss at Seattle in 2019 (83.3), throwing for 395 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

For pretty much everyone else involved, the quick prep for Thursday’s game between the Rams (8-4, first in the NFC West) and Patriots (6-6, not in the playoff picture) is difficult.

“It’s kind of rushing to get things down, but the main thing is trying to find ways to watch as much film as you can,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “When it’s time to practice, make sure you know your assignments and know what’s going to come your way.

“Then you go out and give it everything you’ve got, because you know after that Thursday night game you’ve got a couple of days to get your body right.”

The offense must prepare for the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots, who shut down Goff and the Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII the last time the teams played and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks on 27.2% of drop-backs, second in the league.

Goff comes in on the upswing, responding to Coach Sean McVay’s criticism of his turnovers with a steady performance in the Rams’ 38-28 victory at Arizona.

“I was really proud of him last week,” said O’Connell, the Rams’ first-year coordinator. “First time really getting a chance to see him respond to some real adversity. Our head coach, rightly so, demanded him to play better and protect the football. He went out and did that.

“It’s just about consistency now for him. I look forward to him doing that this week on a short week.”

The results in the past have been real and sometimes spectacular.


McVay said Tuesday evening that he expects running back Cam Akers (shoulder) and defensive end Michael Brockers (neck) to play Thursday night, although both were listed as “limited” in practice. Linebacker Terrell Lewis (knee) remains limited after missing two games and isn’t expected to play. … The Patriots have beaten the Rams in the last six meetings, the streak beginning and ending with the Super Bowls in 2002 and 2019. The Pats hold a 7-5 lead in the series that began in 1974. …

Rams among the league leaders: Aaron Donald’s 11 sacks are tied for the most in the NFL this season with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt. Cornerback Troy Hill and Carolina rookie safety Jeremy Chinn are tied for the lead in defensive touchdowns with two after Hill’s fumble return and interception return for touchdowns the past two weeks. Cooper Kupp (74 receptions) and Robert Woods (71) are the only wide receiver duo with 70-plus catches this season. Jared Goff’s 351 yards passing against Arizona was his 14th game with 300 or more since the start of the 2017 season, the most in the NFL over that span. …

Stats from Next Gen Stats by Zebra Technologies on how the Rams got their passing yards in the victory over Arizona: Goff’s average completion went 2.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, the shortest for any quarterback in Week 13, but receivers ran for 253 yards after the catch, the most for the Rams in a game this season.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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