But, inwardly, he’s champing at the bit to face the NFC-rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, a prime (time) opportunity to exact retribution against a foe that historically reduces him to a middling passer.
“They’ve gotten the best of us, just the last year. We may have some revenge to do this year. But they’re a great team and we look forward to it,” Goff said on Sept. 2, joking that media shouldn’t take his quote “out of context.”
No context is needed to diagnose Goff’s performance in last December’s meeting of the teams — a 44-21 Cowboys blowout win. He completed (mostly in garbage time) 33 of 51 balls for 284 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He absorbed two sacks and finished with a 49.0 QBR, appearing inferior to counterpart Dak Prescott (15-of-22, 212 yards, two TDs, 86.8 QBR, zero sacks).
Interestingly, Goff was more underwhelming amid the Rams’ 2018 playoff victory over Dallas, throwing for just 186 scoreless yards on 15-of-28 passing. That game, a 30-22 squeaker, similar to the Cowboys’ 2019 conquest, was won on the ground, in spite of Sean McVay’s pet project.
The twice-Pro Bowler, once the future of NFL signal-calling, has met his Achilles’ heel.
“We’ve had some battles with them. They’ve always been extremely competitive and extremely talented on both sides of the ball, and have been able to score points and play good defense,” Goff told reporters.
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Then to Now
The Cowboys’ defense is significantly improved from the outfit Goff saw last season. Chasing him down Sunday will be the collective of DeMarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith and Everson Griffen, among others, while the secondary is better equipped to hold its water after the arrival of cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Daryl Worley.
Then again, the Rams’ offense is deeper, too. Hyped rookie running back Cam Akers is leading the charge to replace Todd Gurley, and the team added to its Brandin Cooks-less wide receiver corps with second-round rookie Van Jefferson. They’re also high on breakout candidate tight end Tyler Higbee, who hung 12 receptions and 111 yards on Dallas in a losing effort.
However, McVay’s pass-happy system revolves around Goff’s mind-melding connection with WR Cooper Kupp, who on Saturday landed a three-year, $48 million extension. Kupp went for 6-41-1 versus the Cowboys in 2019 and figures to be peppered with targets at SoFi Stadium.
Look for Goff to pick on Cowboys CB Anthony Brown, who likely will be covering Kupp. An outside corner, Brown is filling in for starting nickelback Jourdan Lewis, ruled out with an ankle injury.
This matchup, as well as the potential spark of Los Angeles’ rushing attack, could shape the outcome of the contest. And determine whether Goff gets his “revenge” or if history merely repeats.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL