By GREG BEACHAM
ATLANTA (AP) — Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams’ electrifying offense shorted out in the Super Bowl.
Goff’s 19-of-38 performance for 229 yards with a key fourth-quarter interception played a large role in the Rams’ 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
He got a consoling hug from coach Sean McVay in the final minutes as Los Angeles’ remarkable year ended with a performance that looked nothing like most of the past two seasons. The Super Bowl was the Rams’ lowest-scoring game in McVay’s tenure, and almost certainly the ugliest.
The Rams’ two-year roll came to a weird anticlimax at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with their lowest-scoring performance in their 36 games under their 33-year-old head coach.
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.
And though Goff was hardly the only one to blame, Los Angeles’ 24-year-old quarterback had one of the rougher performances in Super Bowl history.
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 were outstanding, but his lows were disheartening — and this appeared to be among his worst.
Goff was unable to make consistent throws or tough decisions against the Patriots’ famously stingy defense, and his underthrown pick near the New England end zone crushed the Rams’ hopes for a tying touchdown with 4:17 to play. He was sacked four times and finished with a 57.9 passer rating.
McVay’s powerhouse offense has carried this team for long stretches of the past two seasons, but the Patriots (14-5) had an answer for everything McVay could throw at them.
Goff was the fourth-youngest quarterback to start the Super Bowl, and the first No. 1 overall pick to get his team to the game during his first three seasons. He had only nine completions in the first three quarters before getting 10 more in the fourth while the Rams’ rally fell short.
The Rams ranked second in the league with 32.9 points and 421.1 yards per game in the regular season. During McVay’s two seasons, they’ve led the NFL in points per game — only to look nothing like a juggernaut on the biggest stage.
The Rams’ first eight drives in the Super Bowl ended in punts and resulted in only 72 net yards. Johnny Hekker punted for the eighth time early in the third quarter, a new record for punts in a game during McVay’s two seasons.
The Rams didn’t panic: They had a slow first half of offense in the NFC championship game, but recovered with plenty of big plays in their 26-23 overtime victory to earn their first Super Bowl trip in 17 years.
Goff appeared to injure his non-throwing hand during the second half, going over to the sideline at least twice so the Rams’ staff could check on an apparent cut.
Despite their ineptitude, the Rams still could have taken the lead late in the third quarter when Brandin Cooks broke wide open on a post route, but he stood waving in the end zone while Goff saw him too late and uncorked a throw that took far too long to get there, allowing New England to knock it down.
But Goff was in the midst of his best drive right before his interception.
He hit Josh Reynolds in perfect stride for an 11-yard gain and a first down with just over five minutes left, and he found Robert Woods with another beautiful long pass on the next snap.
But under pressure from blitzing Duron Harmon, Goff wound up and flung a high pass in the general direction of Cooks. The ball was underthrown, and Cooks lost a fight for the ball with Stephon Gilmore, who picked it off.