Smith returns as Goff-led Rams beat Washington to get to 4-1
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) - The ball slipped out of Jared Goff's right hand and tried to hit him after a touchdown. That was about the only time he wasn't in control.
"It wasn't great," he said. "I have an excuse that it was wet."
Goff threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Los Angeles Rams improved to 4-1 by beating Washington almost two years after 30-10 on Alex Smith's return on Sunday as a cruel injury to his career put in danger.
"It's incredible what he has overcome," said Rams coach Sean McVay. "You almost wish it were on better terms. Strange to say when it's our defense that makes things difficult for him. I'm just so impressed with him."
Smith played his first NFL game 693 days after fracturing his right tibia and fibula and stepped in when new Washington quarterback Kyle Allen injured his left arm. Smith was 9 of 17 for 37 yards on the same field he was carted away from on Nov. 18, 2018 before undergoing 17 surgeries to repair the injury.
"Very surreal at first," said Smith as he made his comeback. “It was probably almost a blessing to make it happen as soon as possible. ... It was kind of nice in this situation not to have to think about it. You just go out there and do it. "
Former Washington QB Joe Theismann, who similarly fractured his right leg 33 years before Smith's injury, said it was spectacular to see his return, adding, "I'm so excited and excited for him."
The Rams are thrilled with such a strong start in a tough NFC West after missing last season's playoffs. You beat NFC East and are only a three point loss on a questionable pass-to-interference call that is not undefeated.
"It's a great thing for our momentum," said Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, who had five catches for 66 yards. “Feel great when you're 4-1, but that doesn't mean we can be complacent. Make sure we keep improving and trending up. "
Led by Aaron Donald's four sacks and his blanket, the Rams covered the defense and let them run up in the rain on the offensive. Against the team, with whom he had spent seven seasons as an assistant, McVay chose a lot of game action early on and released Goff's long-distance passing game, which was largely missing in four games.
"I think we're just waiting for opportunities," said Goff. “This one was there, made a litter, made a catch. We have always known what our offenses on the field can do, and today we were able to show it. "
Goff led the Rams on a methodical 10-game opening 76-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD from Darrell Henderson. He linked up with Robert Woods on a 56-yard touchdown, his longest finish of the season, and started the game with a perfect 10 out of 10 against a drained Washington defense.
As the weather conditions worsened, the Rams kept it on the ground and marched further down the field. Goff rushed to get a 2-yard score on a rollout midway through the second round to bring LA to a 20-7 lead that was never questioned.
Aside from Smith's notable comeback, it wasn't the performance coach Ron Rivera envisioned for Washington (1-4) when he put starter Dwayne Haskins in favor of Allen, who knew better offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system. Allen was 9 of 13 for 74 yards past, scoring TD on a 7-yard rushing when he was injured in a hit by Jalen Ramsey and replaced by Smith.
Rivera said he kept Allen on the sidelines after being cleared "out of caution" and expects him to continue to act as a starter if he's healthy.
"I thought Kyle was doing pretty well," said Rivera. “He took us down, we scored a touchdown, we moved the ball. He made some good decisions and it's unfortunate that he took the shot that he took. I would have liked to see him finish the game. "
DONALD DOMINANT AGAIN
Donald defeated Allen once and Smith three times to continue his monster launch. The Rams' outstanding defensive device has 7 1/2 sacks in five games.
Donald started the week with Chris Jones from Kansas City and Akiem Hicks from Chicago for the NFL leadership under defensive tackles and finished fourth overall. He has 23 1/2 sacks in games on October 25 during his career.
"You see guys like Aaron all the time and as effective as he is, you have no idea how impressive it is with all the attention he gets week after week," said Rams linebacker Troy Reeder.
WASHINGTON QB ASK
Not only was Haskins inactive after being downgraded from starter to third on the depth map, he wasn't even in the stadium. The 23-year-old reported a stomach virus to the team on Sunday morning and was told to stay home.
This is likely to spark more speculation about Haskins' future. Rivera said if Allen can play next week, Smith would step down and Haskins would be inactive again.
"I feel safe for him," said Smith, who advised Haskins through the ups and downs of a young QB. "As frustrated as he is, it's obviously important to put that aside and move on."
Rams: Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo injured an elbow on one of Donald's sacks early in the third quarter. Los Angeles was without a leading tackler ILB Micah Kiser (groin).
Washington: # 2 Chase Young returned after missing a game with a groin injury.
The Rams visit the 49ers next Sunday as Washington competes with NFC East rivals New York Giants.
The AP sports journalist Howard Fendrich contributed to this.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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