Lions QB Goff going home to face 49ers in NFC title game, hoping to lift franchise to 1st Super Bowl

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By Associated Press

January 25, 2024

ALLEN PARK, Mich.—Jared Goff is California cool, staying easy breezy in good times and bad.

The veteran quarterback, who is from the San Francisco Bay Area, has led the Detroit Lions to the most success they’ve had in generations with two playoff victories in one postseason for the first time since winning the 1957 NFL title.

And yet, he has refused to get too emotionally high about that feat.

Goff also would not get too low — at least publicly — when the Lions won just three games in his debut season with them in 2021 and followed up the next season with a 1-6 start.

“He’s the captain of the ship,” Detroit center Frank Ragnow said Wednesday. “He’s as steady as it gets.”

The Lions will lean on Goff to stay the course for at least another week.

He is heading home to play the 49ers, about an hour from his hometown and alma mater, in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

Goff is from Novato, California, attended nearby Marin Catholic High and starred at California before the Los Angeles Rams drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016.

He helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl in his third season, they traded him away two years later and were eliminated by the castaway in a wild-card game earlier this month.

Outside of the Lions’ organization, Goff was viewed as a stopgap quarterback when he was acquired along with a pair of first-round picks and a third-round selection nearly three years ago for Matthew Stafford.

Goff has been much more, validating the faith Lions general manager Brad Holmes had in him when dealing a popular star for a player his former employer didn’t want.

He got in a groove during the 2022 season, lifting the team to eight wins over their final 10 games and stayed in it during much of Detroit’s breakthrough season in which the franchise won its first division title in three decades and ended an NFL record nine-game postseason losing streak that lasted 32 years.

Goff threw 383 straight passes without an interception, a mistake-free run that trailed just two in league history, before throwing a pick in September.

He finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in yards passing and fourth with 30 touchdowns, including five that matched franchise and personal records in last month’s rout against Denver.

In postseason wins over Los Angeles and Tampa Bay, he has completed 74.3% of his passes for 564 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“He’s as accurate as any quarterback I’ve seen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

That’s especially true when Goff can stay in the pocket instead of throwing on the run.

“The key is obviously getting pressure,” San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa said. “He’s got a really good O-line, so it makes it tough. But if you cover up his first couple reads, and then you get after him and hit him a few times it changes things a little bit.”

A lot has changed for Goff since he grew up as a 49ers fan and wore No. 16 because his father, former Major League Baseball player Jerry Goff, picked Joe Montana’s number for him to wear.

Even though the stakes are much higher than previous visits to San Francisco in the regular season with the Rams, it’s tough to tell by looking at or listening to Goff.

“It’ll be fun to be able to play a big game there, but I’ve played there quite a few times and we’ll have some friends and family there,” he said with a shrug. ”It’ll be cool.”

And when Goff is asked about his cool and calm demeanor, he replies with an aw-shucks answer.

“Yeah, it does come quite naturally,” said Goff, who leads active NFC quarterbacks with five career playoff wins. “But I do think there’s a part of me that’s intentional about being consistent whether things are good or bad.”

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