Whicker: Goff’s bodyguards keep his jersey clean enough to beat Bucs

The Rams are 7-3 this morning because they had the better quarterback on a field that also featured Tom Brady.

The main reason Jared Goff was the better quarterback on Monday night is the capable friends he brought along, even with a close behind.

The Rams won 27-24, when Jordan Fuller intercepted Brady at the end, on a night when Goff threw 51 times at Raymond James Stadium. Without injured left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was carried away from last week’s win over Seattle, they could have put Goff in the same danger zone that engulfed him in Miami.

Instead, Goff was never fired and has likely had 18-hole rounds that were more painful. The Bucs’ defense only hit him three times. The pillow he got to find Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and the rest of the crew was why the Rams amassed just enough points to win.

Joe Noteboom was called up to replace Whitworth. To his right were Austin Corbett, Austin Blythe, David Edwards and Rob Havenstein. Of that group, only Havenstein held the same position he played in the Rams Super Bowl loss against Brady and New England. Havenstein also took the only penalty of the game for the offensive line (hold) and no one on the unit foul started against a Tampa Bay rush unit averaging 3.2 sacks, fourth in the league.

“Joe Noteboom had a great game at left tacking,” said Woods. ‘You have to think about whose function he fulfills. He had Shaq Barrett and JPP (Jean-Pierre Paul) to deal with. ”

Ever since the Rams put their run on hold, Goff has focused on rhythmic short passes against a dynamic young Tampa Bay secondary. His two touchdown passes went to rookies Cam Akers and Van Jefferson, but Kupp and Woods were able to run profusely when they ran short of the ball, and that doesn’t happen without the accuracy of the quarterback’s drone-type. Those two combined for 23 catches for 275 yards.

“I really liked what Cooper and Robert did,” said McVay. “They really made a lot themselves.”

If the Aries can lean on that big boy base and keep improving their efficiency, they have a lot to expect.

Their defense was special again on Monday evening, even though they rarely came to Brady. They stopped Ronald Jones for 24 yards in 10 carriers, with Micah Kiser perhaps predicting the future when he hit fifth gear almost immediately at Tampa Bay’s first game and put Jones on the scrimmage. Except for Mike Evans ‘touchdown when Jalen Ramsey wasn’t guarding him, the Rams generally stopped the Buccaneers’ receivers in their tracks.

Evans ’18-yard play was the longest for Tampa Bay all night, and the numbers would have looked much better had it not been for three pass interference penalties.

Over the past two weeks, the Rams have shared QB ratings of 57 and 62.5 to Russell Wilson and Brady.

After taking a 17-14 lead at half time, the Rams put Brady in neutral for the entire third quarter, giving Tampa Bay only 8 yards. But they let this remain a seven-run game for a little too long, and when Jordan Whitehead closed forcefully and intercepted Goff’s throw in the middle, it was time for Brady to recall the years.

He pushed the Bucs to the tying touchdown and found Chris Godwin for the last 13 yards, as Darious Williams couldn’t get to him fast enough. That put the responsibility on Goff and the Rams to see if their quick attack could work when it mattered most, with 3:53 left.

The Rams only ran five times in the first half and Goff piled up the stats with short shots to Kupp and the rest.

Here, Goff used play-action and fired 25 yards to Woods on the first down, the 11th ball that Woods caught. Then Goff rolled out and found Kupp for 18 yards, which was also Kupp’s 11th reception. It was also Goff’s 50th attempt and his 39th completion.

Then the Rams chose a surprising time to return to the running game, ending with a fourth-and-8 situation. Matt Gay, who was 1-for-2 beforehand, converted a 40-yard field goal for a 27-24 lead with 2:36 remaining, and with Brady having a time-out.

History indicates that Brady is somewhat lethal if given those options. But perhaps current events are catching up with Brady. He tried to get a piece of yardage with a center throw to Cameron Brate, but it floated.

Fuller, who had already intercepted Brady once, stood there and watched the ball approach him. To the Rams, it was like a pillow coin that allowed for a quiet flight and night.