Jared Goff, Rams move on from embarrassment, boost playoff hopes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Rams rebounded Sunday from a disastrous performance to dominate the Arizona Cardinals 34-7 at State Farm Stadium.

The Rams improved to 7-5, keeping their playoff hopes alive, even if by only the slimmest of margins. Entering Sunday’s game, the Rams had an 8.5 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

The Rams will now turn to scoreboard-watching on Monday night, when the Seattle Seahawks (9-2) take on the Minnesota Vikings (8-3), who have a two-game lead in the NFC wild-card race. It also will give the Rams a jump start on planning to play the Seahawks, whom they will face in a rematch next Sunday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams fell to the Seahawks 30-29 in Week 5, when Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal with 15 seconds to play.

QB breakdown: New month, new Jared Goff? It’s too soon to tell, given that he was facing a Cardinals defense that ranks among the worst in the NFL and has allowed an average of 415 yards and 28.8 points per game.

Nevertheless, Goff clearly put a tough November behind him, when he did not throw a single touchdown pass in three games, the longest streak of his career, and had five passes intercepted. In that span, Goff also fumbled four times, losing one.

On Sunday, Goff completed 32 of 43 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns. He passed for 323 yards in the first half alone, a career high for a half, and more yards than the first halves of his past three games combined (293 yards).

With a 34-7 lead and more than eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, backup Blake Bortles replaced Goff.

Promising trend: Six days after quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense left the Rams' defense dazed and confused in a 45-6 rout, the Rams bounced back to dominate the Cardinals. The Rams combined for six sacks and rookie safety Taylor Rapp recorded his first career interception, which he returned 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Rams a 34-0 lead in the third quarter.

Buy a breakout performance: Tight end Tyler Higbee, who signed a four-year, $29 million extension before the season, played a prominent role in the passing game, with seven receptions for a career-high 107 yards. Higbee’s previous high was 98 receiving yards in Week 5 of 2017.