We have to start with what should have been the Super Bowl’s first touchdown. Late in the third quarter, Robert Woods dragged a trio of defenders over to the left sideline while Brandin Cooks ran briefly uncovered into the end zone, only to go unseen by Jared Goff long enough for Jason McCourty to make the pass-breakup of a lifetime.
In retrospect, it never felt like Goff was going to make that throw, or that the Rams could conceivably score a touchdown at all, because Goff spent his entire Super Bowl debut making nothing but the most puzzling decisions. Blame should be apportioned to the Rams’ boy genius coach for failing to scheme up anything of value, and conversely, Bill Belichick and his team deserve credit for a perfect gameplan. However, even considering the schematic disparity, Goff’s individual mistakes were utterly crippling to the Rams’ chances of winning.
The only other time the Rams sort of sniffed the end zone came with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Goff almost put Cooks in for the score with a beautiful throw over the top on first down, but Stephon Gilmore and Duron Harmon did just enough to jar the ball loose. One play later, Goff panicked under pressure and fluffed his throw directly to Gilmore, ending the game. Goff had Josh Reynolds wide open in the slot on that play, but just didn’t see him.
Those two throws and the dreadful pair of sacks that Goff fell into were the worst decisions of the night, but the Rams’ QB spent the entire game missing open receivers (look at C.J. Anderson waving his hand here). On this play in the fourth quarter, Goff didn’t see that Reynolds had nobody on him, as he was only thinking about hucking it to Cooks.
On the Rams’ very first play of the third quarter, Goff was saved from what should have been an easy interception, his second such pass of the game.
Goff’s misses also include picking out the wrong guy on a short third down in with two receivers open, killing a second quarter drive by slinging it deep to Cooks instead of dropping it to an open Woods, and being saved from what could have been a pick-six by a lucky deflection. There were even a few more misses, helpfully collected by For The Win’s Steven Ruiz with the help of the NFL’s Next Gen player tracking tool. The Patriots excelled at getting pressure on Goff and confusing him with coverages, but it’s not like Goff went through the whole game without any open receivers running in front of him. He had his chances to make game-winning plays, and he whiffed.