OAKLAND — Quarterback Jared Goff had an up-and-down start to the week in practice. But any issues looked far behind him on Saturday night, as the second-year signal-caller finished a sharp 16-of-20 passing for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Originally slated to play just over a quarter — or 20-25 snaps — Goff ended up with about 37, according to head coach Sean McVay, and played essentially the entire first half. In that time, Goff completed passes to seven different receivers, leading the offense to three scoring drives — including a pair of eight-play possessions that ended in touchdowns.
"I thought Jared did a great job making good decisions, got a lot of people involved," McVay said postgame. "And I thought just from having eight snaps in Week 1 and then coming in tonight and having 37 — we always talk about that daily improvement and he definitely got better this week."
"I felt good," Goff said. "I think we started the way we wanted to start. I think we were aggressive offensively."
Part of what made Goff so effective was the way the offense was able to avoid negative plays. The Rams faced only three third downs of longer than five yards when Goff was in the game, which is why the club ended the first two quarters six-of-eight in third-down efficiency.
"It's huge — huge for any offense, especially for us when we're able to stay in front of the sticks, stay in 3rd-and-manageable," Goff said. "It's a game changer. You don't like to be in 3rd-and-12. You don't want to be in even 2nd-and-12, you want to stay ahead of the sticks. And I think we did a good job of that tonight. And ultimately, that'll help us move the ball and score points."
The time of possession numbers also illustrate how the Rams were able to get in a rhythm in the first half. L.A. doubled up Oakland, maintaining possession for 20:01 to the Raiders' 9:59.
"I think we have to get a few plays to get us into a rhythm," Goff said. "But once we do, once we move the ball, you get a couple first downs, you start getting that little feel, you start getting into a rhythm. And I think you can definitely feel it — certainly toward the end of that second drive, we felt like we had a pretty good tempo going. And we were able to move the ball on almost every down."
Goff was sacked once — when 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack split a double team to make his way into the backfield — but was kept upright for the rest of the first half, as no other Raider had a quarterback hit. The quarterback showed solid pocket awareness, stepping up when he needed to. But the five men up front did well, too.
"I thought the O-line did a great job of creating that pocket, especially with guys like Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack on the edge there," Goff said. "Running them up behind me and giving me a pocket to sit in was really, really good tonight."
And so though Goff had a rocky start to the week, McVay seemed pleased with how the quarterback kept working and was able to effectively command the offense on Saturday.
"My experience with Jared to this point has shown me that he's nothing but a mentally tough guy that has great resilience and the ability to respond when things don't work out," McVay said. "And I think he's able to take it for what it is and learn from it, and try to avoid those moving forward. But I think it's also our job as coaches to try to put him in situations that are conducive for making good decisions consistently."
"I thought he did an excellent job getting in and out of the huddle, managing it," McVay added. "It was a good atmosphere tonight, where you're having to use your silent cadence and do some different things. So there were some different elements that — very pleased with the way with he led the offense. And we were able to come away with some points and that's always the goal."