GREEN BAY, Wis. — Jared Goff was one of the best, most-explosive and highest-rated quarterbacks down the stretch this season. He also took care of the football at a historic rate.
The Detroit Lions quarterback closed the season by throwing 324 straight passes without an interception, the fifth-longest streak in NFL history. Only Aaron Rodgers (402 straight passes), Tom Brady (399, 358) and Derek Carr (332) have ever had longer streaks.
“Yeah, it has been great,” Goff said after leading a 20-16 comeback win in Green Bay on Sunday night. “It has been part of what I have tried to do every game. I have been able to hold onto that for quite a while. Some of it is certainly luck, and some of it is me doing a good job. I have been on the wrong side of a lot of those in my career, so it seems like it is balancing out now. It has been a good little streak.”
Sure was. Especially for a quarterback who has been dogged by turnover issues throughout his career. Ball security was among the foremost issues that landed him in Sean McVay’s doghouse in Los Angeles, and no one was turning over the football more than Jared Goff when L.A. shipped him to Detroit along with two first-round picks and a third-round pick.
The Rams got Matthew Stafford in return, and a ring.
But the Lions have won their side of the trade more than anyone could have imagined. Goff was expected to be a bridge quarterback when he was acquired by Detroit, but after the promotion of Ben Johnson to de facto passing game coordinator down the stretch last season, he finished as one of the five-hottest quarterbacks in the league.
A year later, he did it again. Goff was the top-rated quarterback in his last five games heading into the finale in Green Bay. He didn’t have his best game in the blistering cold, but did enough to win, and certainly more than Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers.
Goff completed a 43-yard bomb to Kalif Raymond at the goal line, which set up Jamaal Williams’ first touchdown run and a 13-9 lead in the third quarter. Then after Green Bay retook the lead, he completed a fourth-down pass to DJ Chark to keep alive a drive that ended with another go-ahead TD, before doing it again on fourth-and-1 with 75 seconds left. That allowed Detroit to kill the rest of the clock, while Rodgers paced around the opposite sideline, helpless.
“The last play there, the fourth down, was, ‘Let’s let Goff finish this out for us, let’s let him win this game,’” head coach Dan Campbell said. “So, we put the big hat on him and had a feeling what they would be in, and we just, we believed in Goff. He’s been the guy that’s played lights out for the back half of the season, really all season. He just had some things, some bumps, like all of us did early in the year. Let’s put the onus on him, man. Let’s let him win this for us and he did that. I mean, you talk about playing in rhythm. It was huge. And Chark, the whole deal. That’s the way you want it to end. It was perfect.”
Chark concluded a red-hot finish to the season by coming up with the two huge fourth-down catches that helped send Detroit into the offseason with a ninth win.
“It feels good, but it is kind of what we expect,” Goff said. “The game on the line, you want it in your hands. We have come a long way in two years, and I think this was a nice culmination of that. We got the win, and it feels good, but yeah finishing it that way, loved the call. Knew that it was going to be the call. It was a great play.”
Goff finished the season with 29 touchdown passes, a high since his Pro Bowl season with Los Angeles in 2018, and just seven picks, a career low. His passer rating of 99.3 ranked seventh in the league, trailing only Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes, Jimmy Garappolo, Jalen Hurts, Geno Smith and Joe Burrow.
Detroit scored the fifth-most points, and had the No. 3 offense overall behind only Kansas City and Philadelphia.
That offense was good, and Goff was so good in it. That has provided unexpected flexibility at the quarterback position.
“That would be great (to return next season),” Goff said. “It is not entirely up to me, but I have enjoyed my time here. It has been awesome. I hope it continues, but we will see where everything goes.”
Where everything seems to be going: A return for Jared Goff in 2023. The only real question is what his competition will look like, and how much Detroit wants to invest in a position that scorched the league this season.