Monday’s epic 54-51 win over the Chiefs was without a doubt one of the most exciting football games of all time. It featured high octane offense and despite what the Trent Dilfer‘s of the world may think, it did feature a lot of defense too. Second-year linebacker Samson Ebukam broke out in a big way getting two pick-sixes, Aaron Donald ate Patrick Mahomes alive on more than one occasion, and Marcus Peters finally reminded fans why he was such a big addition.
The biggest star though was Jared Goff. Goff put together the kind of game that not only solidified his place as a current and future star but his victory has the potential to change the course of Los Angeles football forever. It might seem like hyperbole but this was the biggest Rams win since “The Greatest Show on Turf” won Super Bowl XXXIV.
Coming into this game, Jared Goff was seen as a very good quarterback but one who relied too much on a system. His MVP candidacy was always voided out by reminders that Todd Gurley is more of the MVP than him and that he only succeeded once Sean McVay arrived. Jared Goff never got the respect he deserved because everyone is still soured by their first impression of him. His disastrous rookie season continues to follow him like the ghosts at the end of The Haunted Mansion ride.
Monday night, however, saw him seize the moment. On a night where Todd Gurley wasn’t quite right, Goff took over. He was 31/49 for 413 yards and four touchdowns. Yeah, that pales in comparison to Mahomes’ 33/46 478 yards and 6 TDs but Goff also didn’t have Mahomes’ three picks.
Goff’s efficiency came through in the clutch. He was able to mostly evade the Chiefs defense and he spread the ball all over the field. The Rams’ offense proved it could survive without Cooper Kupp, who is out for the year with an ACL tear. Kupp’s absence allowed Goff to lean on his big athletic tight ends, Gerald Everett (who scored two touchdowns including the game winner) and Tyler Higbee. The Rams have been in search of a star quarterback since they prematurely let Kurt Warner walk. General Manager Les Snead’s controversial decision to trade a bounty of picks for Goff finally paid off because he IS that star.
He can now be the poster boy the Rams wanted because aside from coming up in the playoffs, any doubts about Jared Goff can now end. The Rams haven’t had a stage this big and come out on top since Super Bowl XXXIV and this isn’t recency bias.
Yes, they went to the Super Bowl after winning in 2000 but that team was patient zero for the Brady/Belichick experience. After that, they only made the playoffs two more times and even their win against Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks wasn’t that impressive.
The Rams were a punchline for 15 years. They wasted Steven Jackson‘s prime and anytime they were allowed a primetime game they were embarrassed. When they moved to Los Angeles many didn’t believe it could work.
It had been 25 years since they were in LA and given that they were coached by Jeff Fisher things looked bleak. Yes, Fisher went to USC but it was so long ago and he wasn’t exactly a star. That 4-12 season was the kind of season that led many to think the Rams would never be more than a sideshow.
The Dodgers and Lakers own the LA sports scene and it would be impossible for the team to get new fans. Then the McVay era happened and now they’re an event. This game was the culmination of everything they had been building. Floyd Mayweather (not an ideal star but he’s a star) goes to the games and Jay-Z was in attendance on Monday. Slowly, but surely the Rams are making their way into the star scene.
That’s a big deal because for the first time the Rams began reaping the benefits of playing in LA and they haven’t even moved into their new state of the art stadium yet. Their games are now an event and Monday’s shootout was as big an event as the Rams or the NFL could ask for. The league wanted this at a neutral site in Mexico but it was fortuitous that Estadio Azteca’s field looked like Bane returned to usher in Mexico City’s reckoning. Having the game in LA gave the league a chance to show that the Coliseum wasn’t just populated by the visiting team’s fans. It was the most explosive atmosphere the team has had since returning.
Years from now, people can look back at the win over the Chiefs as a truly galvanizing moment. This was the moment the Rams stopped being a sideshow. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald are three of the biggest stars in the league and now all that’s left is to bring a championship parade down Figueroa. LA sports culture is one where a championship is expected and everything else is a failure. For the first time in 25 years, the Rams are a part of that culture.