LOS ANGELES -- The first drive of Jared Goff's NFL career resulted in an interception. The second resulted in a sack, the third was a fumble and the fourth was a clumsy amalgam of both, caused by rolling to the outside and being way too late in chucking the football out of bounds.
But then suddenly Goff got comfortable. He started making quick decisions, completing passes and leading drives. And though his production Saturday came only against the bottom of the Kansas City Chiefs' depth chart, the important thing -- at this stage, at least -- was that it happened nonetheless.
"I felt like I was back in college, doing the same things I’ve been doing my whole life," the Los Angeles Rams rookie quarterback said. "It wasn’t so much thinking; it was more playing. You’re seeing stuff better, it’s just kind of falling into your vision. That’s kind of how I felt toward the end."
Despite a dreadful start, Goff finished his second professional game 8-of-12 for 82 yards and his first touchdown, playing from the 10-minute mark of the second quarter all the way until the end of a 21-20 comeback victory over the Chiefs at Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday night.
But Goff still has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to start the Sept. 12 Monday Night Football opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
Fellow Rams quarterback Case Keenum was once again efficient and effective with the first-team offense Saturday, going 4-for-5 for 53 yards and a touchdown against the starters for a solid Chiefs defense. Goff had an interception and a sack in his only two possessions against the Dallas Cowboys last Saturday, then looked lost for most of his first three possessions seven days later.
"I’m just worried about what I’m doing," Goff said. "Case has played well, and Case is doing a great job. But at the same time, I’m not going to concern myself with him. I’m going to focus on myself and continue to get myself better, because I have plenty of things I need to work on."
Rams coach Jeff Fisher gave Goff a handful of snaps with the first-team offense throughout last week and did it again in Saturday's game, bringing Goff in after Keenum led the offense to scores on the first two drives. Goff's first pass came a little early on a curl route and was dropped by Brian Quick. When the rookie quarterback stepped back to throw again, the pocket collapsed and he tried to run. But he tripped on guard Cody Wichmann, didn't secure the ball upon hitting the ground and lost it, giving Kansas City possession at the Rams' 16-yard line.
"Can’t do it," said Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft. "That’s dumb ball security."
Facing third-and-4 on his next drive, Goff rolled to the outside but didn't attempt to throw the ball away until he reached the sidelines. He was hit by two defenders just before that, losing the ball as he was thrown out of bounds for a sack.
Later, Goff told Fisher the obvious -- that he should've gotten rid of the ball a lot sooner.
"The rush got to his face and he lost the ball, so he learns from it," Fisher said. "That's the impressive thing about him."
Fisher continued to play Goff, largely because the Chiefs dominated the time of possession and thus limited the Rams' opportunities on offense. Goff went three-and-out on his first possession of the second half. But his next possession began with a 26-yard completion to wide-open tight end Temarrick Hemingway on play-action. Goff's next pass was dropped by Quick. He then completed a 7-yard pass to Malcolm Brown before the Rams punted.
Goff then put together his first touchdown drive, going 3-for-3 for 34 yards, including a 10-yard TD strike to Brown, the second-year running back who reached behind him to haul in the eventual winning touchdown with 10:30 left in the game.
"When things aren't happening the way you expect them to, to be able to get back on track is really tough to do," Keenum said of Goff. "It was good to see him do that."
But Keenum continues to look sharper.
Keenum would've gone 7-for-7 in preseason Week 1 if not for a drop by Tavon Austin, and he marched the Rams to a couple of touchdowns in his only two possessions in Week 2. Keenum benefited from the presence of star running back Todd Gurley, who ran four times for 20 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' first drive Saturday. But Keenum completed a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Kenny Britt, a 15-yard pass to tight end Lance Kendricks and an 11-yard touchdown pass to slot receiver Pharoh Cooper, who dove to the pylon for the score.
Goff remains the storyline, but Keenum has been the steady hand.
"I'm just playing football, man," Keenum said. "I don't think about anything. That's you guys' job. You go write about it, talk about it and dissect everything. For me, if I'm totally honest, the opinions that matter for me are in this locker room -- that's with teammates and coaches. I'm trying to do the best I can. I think we are doing a pretty good job right now."