ATLANTA – Jared Goff trudged to the Los Angeles Rams’ bench, his face a mask of confusion and despair, while the Patriots celebrated their interception behind him.
Sean McVay left the sideline and leaned into his ear. The coach didn’t say much, but he encouraged his quarterback to learn from the Rams’ offensive flop.
McVay and Goff are likely to be together for many more years, and they hope they’ll remember their embarrassing 13-3 loss in the Super Bowl on Sunday as a springboard to the future, not the crushing flop that it felt like immediately afterward.
Goff’s 19-of-38 performance for 229 yards and a key fourth-quarter interception played a large role in the Rams’ defeat, but almost nothing went right for a team that frequently has been brilliant with the ball in its hands. A remarkable season ended with a big-game performance that looked nothing like most of the past two seasons as the Rams matched the lowest-scoring performance in Super Bowl history.
The Rams led the NFL in points per game over the past two seasons, yet became just the second team in NFL history to fail to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
“It’s the toughest loss I ever had,” Goff said. “It kills. It’s terrible. It’s a game I wish I would have played better. I wish I could have a million plays back.”
Casual football fans who hadn’t watched the Rams during the past two years would have no idea how they got to the Super Bowl after watching this tentative, inconsistent performance.
All of Los Angeles’ recent success came to a weird anticlimax at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with its lowest-scoring performance in 36 games under the 33-year-old head coach.
Los Angeles managed just 260 yards, got only 14 first downs – just six in the first three quarters – and punted a season-high nine times. But even putting the raw numbers aside, the Rams’ miserable execution left them looking unprepared for a stellar defensive game plan from Bill Belichick.
“I’m pretty numb right now, but definitely I got outcoached,” McVay said. “I didn’t do nearly a good enough job for our football team. … This one is going to stick with you. It just stings in your gut.”
Though Goff’s teammates and coaches refused to blame him, Los Angeles’ 24-year-old quarterback had one of the rougher performances in Super Bowl history. Along with his 19 incompletions, he was sacked four times and finished with a 57.9 passer rating.
Goff’s ability to execute McVay’s offensive innovations and clever play-calling put the Rams (15-4) back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years. His highs have been outstanding, but his lows are frequently disheartening – and this game appeared to be among his worst.
“We were moving the ball well at times, but we just couldn’t get that one play,” Goff said. “We know what type of offense we have, and to not be able to show that, it’s tough.”
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