For Jared Goff, Rams-Lions game about more than himself. ‘I want to be a part of this win’

Jared Goff has his share of picture-perfect memories from his five seasons as quarterback of the Rams.

One of those sits under glass at his office in Los Angeles. It’s a shot from an classic night game at the Coliseum in 2018, the year he helped lead them to the Super Bowl. The photo is of his final touchdown pass in a 54-51 victory over Kansas City and it was taken from the end zone, so the entire scoreboard is in frame behind him.

There was a crackling electricity in the Coliseum that night, the same kind Goff feels for every Detroit Lions home game these days. Hometown fans set a Ford Field noise record this season during a Lions victory over Seattle, the decibel count climbing to 127.5 on a third-down sack of Geno Smith. That’s roughly as loud as standing next to a pummeling jackhammer.

That ear-splitting record will be in jeopardy Sunday when the Lions host a playoff game for the first time in 30 years, one loaded with compelling story lines. The Rams are coming to Detroit, which means quarterback Matthew Stafford will be returning to the city where he played his first 12 seasons, and Goff will be facing the team that traded him away to the Motor City.

Goff sidestepped the suggestion this week that facing his old team gives him extra incentive beyond the Lions winning a postseason game for the first time since 1992.

“Obviously there’s a personal connection there, not only for me but some of our players and a bunch of theirs, too,” the Lions quarterback said. “But no, I so badly want to win a playoff game for this city that hasn’t had one for so long. That’s so much more important than anything personal for me. I want to be a part of this win.”

Goff has had plenty of time to wrap his mind around this matchup. It didn’t sneak up on him.

“It was kind of tracking like that for a few weeks,” he said. “It wasn’t a surprise or anything. Obviously it was either them or Green Bay going into that last week. When it became them it was, ‘OK, let’s go do it.’”

Stafford guided the Rams to a Super Bowl victory, and at the moment might be the NFL’s hottest hand. But over the course of their three seasons, he and Goff have put up numbers that are uncannily similar.

Both have won 24 games.

They both have completed 66% of their passes.

They both have 41 turnovers.

Stafford has 75 touchdown passes, and Goff has 78.

“Matt and Jared are very similar in some regards,” said Lions tackle Graham Glasgow, who blocked for both. “I feel like sometimes you might get around somebody who — both of them are No. 1 overall picks — might have a little ego to them or a little bit of celebrity to them. But neither of those guys let that get to their heads. They’re normal fellas.”

Normal fellas in an abnormal situation. Goff, for one, likely will be without one of his favorite targets, star rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, who is nursing a knee injury. And the quarterback will be in the crosshairs of future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald and rising rookie protégé Kobie Turner.

“Aaron is as good as anyone has ever been on the inside,” Goff said. “Kobie’s having a hell of a year, playing really well. We have our hands full there, but our guys are ready.”

One of Goff’s strengths is it takes a lot to rattle him. That sleepy-eyed look is reflective of his personality. He’s pretty even-keeled as a player, no matter how the game is going. That was evident back in his early college days at Cal, and his low-blood-pressure approach even frustrated his coach at times.

Once, when he was a freshman, he was having a terrible game in a monsoon at Oregon. He was benched after losing two fumbles on the Bears’ first three possessions. On the sideline, after he was removed from the game, he didn’t look distraught or broken.

“Let me tell you,” Sonny Dykes, Cal’s coach later told The Times, “Jared’s body language was a lot better than mine.”

More than a decade later, that is a huge strength. Goff can handle pressure situations, and he will be in one Sunday. Will it define his career? No, he has played on a bigger stage. But the magnitude of the moment is not lost on him.

Before kickoff Sunday, the Lions will memorialize their NFC North title — their first division championship in three decades — in the Ford Field rafters.

“Seeing that banner’s exciting, it’s an NFC North banner, it’s a division title,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot more we’re working for.”

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