February 23, 2024

Jared Goff got his revenge.

And it ended the Rams’ season.

Jettisoned by the Rams three years ago in a trade for Matthew Stafford, Goff on Sunday night played turnover free and led the Lions to a historic 24-23 victory in an NFC wild-card game before 66,367 delirious fans at Ford Field.

Goff, the top pick by the Rams in the 2016 NFL draft, had said this week that he and Rams coach Sean McVay were “good,” despite McVay’s handling of the trade.

But Goff had to relish winning the Lions’ first home playoff game in 32 years with a victory over the team that cast him aside.

Goff completed 22 of 27 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown.

Stafford also played error free, completing 25 of 36 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns, but it was not enough to capitalize on a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Rapper Eminem, a Detroit native, said last week that the Rams quarterback owed him a favor for performing in the Super Bowl LVI halftime show at SoFi Stadium, where Stafford starred in the Rams’ victory over the Cincinnati Bengals

“I rapped for you Stafford,” Eminen said in a video clip the NFL released on social media. “Bro, I rapped for you! Can you just let us have this one? Just this one?”

Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (17) runs after a catch against the Detroit Lions.

Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (17) runs after a catch against the Detroit Lions. He set a rookie record for yards receiving in a playoff game.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

On Sunday night, before a frenzied crowd at Ford Field, Stafford lost himself in the moment. He dropped bombs. A 50-yard touchdown pass to Puka Nacua and a 38-yard scoring pass to Tutu Atwell.

Despite playing with an injured right hand, and after sustaining a third-quarter hit that sent him to the on-field medical tent, Stafford pulled the Rams to within a point midway through the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t enough, however, in the first playoff matchup between the teams in more than seven decades.

When Goff came out for warm-ups the crowd went crazy and chanted, “Jar-ed Go-ff” over and over. According to Detroit reporters, that was the first time that chant was heard.

Stafford might be still beloved in Detroit, where he played his first 12 NFL seasons, but he acknowledged last week that he was “the bad guy” in his return.

And the crowd did not disappoint. They booed when he ran onto the field. They booed when his image was shown on video screens for the coin flip.

But Stafford never wavered.

 Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) contragulates Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16).

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) contragulates Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16).

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Even after his right hand, which he injured earlier this season, once again hit a defender’s helmet on a 19-yard completion to receiver Demarcus Robinson on a third-and-15 play in the second quarter he did not blink.

The Rams trailed, 21-17, at halftime after Goff led three scoring drives, including one that he finished with a fourth-down touchdown pass to tight end Sam LaPorta.

Goff completed his first 10 passes and was 16 of 18 for 191 yards in the first two quarters.

Stafford was also sharp, completing 12 of 16 passes for 196 yards and the touchdown passes to Nacua and Atwell. Nacua, who set NFL rookie receiving records for catches and yards receiving this season, had five catches for 106 yards by halftime. He finished with a rookie playoff record 181 yards.

The Rams got the ball to start the second half but they were forced to punt, giving the Lions the opportunity to increase the lead with Michael Badgley’s 54-yard field goal.

The Rams answered with a field goal by Maher, but the drive proved costly, Stafford going to the on-field medical tent when he was hit by Aidan Hutchinson on a third-down pass.

Stafford returned and directed a drive that stalled at the Lions’ 11-yard line, once again bringing on Maher for a field goal that trimmed the lead to 24-23 with just more than eight minutes left.

The Rams forced the Lions to go three and out, giving Stafford the ball at the Rams’ nine-yard line with 7:18 remaining. They were forced to punt, however, with just more than four minutes left.

Goff did not let the Rams get the ball back.

It ended a season in which the Rams exceeded expectations.

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