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Jared Goff's historic night leads Rams past Vikings

In a back-and-forth Southern California shootout, Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams (4-0) outgunned Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1), 38-31, on Thursday Night Football in Week 4. Here's what we learned:

  1. This Rams offense is something special, something historic, something unstoppable. Sean McVay's unit continued its torrid pace of production Thursday night, racking up 557 yards and six scoring drives against a previously heralded Vikings defense. Jared Goff set career highs in passing yards (465) and touchdowns (5) in a perfect passing performance (158.3 rating) that put in him in the conversation with Rams greats. Goff became the first Rams quarterback with five touchdowns in a game since Kurt Warner during the Rams' Super Bowl-winning 1999 season. Unfairly described as a system quarterback benefitting more from McVay's genius than his own development, Goff has silenced those critics over the past two weeks. His demolitions of the deep Chargers and Vikings defenses in consecutive games is a one-two punch to naysayers who claim Goff is a product of the system when in fact he is, as's Michael Silver detailed last week, "the pulse of it."
  1. Goff's career evening had everything: designed rollouts, play-action screens, seam routes over befuddled linebackers (usually Anthony Barr). The diversity in Los Angeles' play-calling lends itself to its variety of runners and receivers, one of whom each week seems to stand out above the rest. This week, it was Cooper Kupp, who set career highs with 162 receiving yards and two touchdowns. But he was just one of four different Rams players with at least 100 yards from scrimmage. Brandin Cooks (126 total yards), Robert Woods (101) and Todd Gurley (166) each scored a touchdown and received at least five touches. Having four players on the field who can extend drives or go for six on a given play makes life near impossible for opposing defensive coordinators and unexpecting linebackers, again, like Barr. The Rams will benefit from mismatches all season long.
  1. Kirk Cousins rebounded from an embarrassing showing at home against the previously winless Bills to slice up an injury-riddled Rams defense. In passing for 422 yards, Cousins set a franchise record for most passing yards through four games. His accuracy and rapport with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs is difficult for any defense to defend. (Thielen's 473 receiving yards through four games are the most by a Vikings receiver, breaking Randy Moss' mark from 2003.) Down the stretch, Cousins even displayed out-of-pocket mobility on a game-high 19-yard run. Despite his performance last week, he's still worth the guaranteed pact Minnesota offered him this offseason, lest Vikings fans overreact to one unsettled afternoon.
  1. However, the walls did gradually close in Cousins, as his maligned offensive line grew overwhelmed over time by a relentless pass rush from Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Brockers and rookie John Franklin-Myers. Three of the Rams' four takedowns of Cousins on the night came on Minnesota's final five plays. Whereas Donald had success swimming past Minnesota's guards, Suh was often flexed out as a defensive end to take advantage of the Vikings' hampered tackles. What Los Angeles lacks in speed at outside linebacker, it makes up for in versatility on the defensive line.
  1. Where is the vaunted Vikings defense from 2017? Minnesota hasn't put together a great half of defensive football worthy of its roster since the first half of the Minneapolis Miracle. The Rams' juggernaut offense makes most defenses look unprepared and overwhelmed, but George Edwards' unit was supposed to be different. Instead, withoutEverson Griffen on the defensive line and down starting cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion), the Vikings allowed over 500 yards of offense for the first time since Week 4 of 2014, the fourth game of Mike Zimmer's reign. Safe to say the skipper was not happy with the showing.

"We've never been -- probably anywhere I've ever been -- we've never been this poor in pass coverage," Zimmer told reporters after the game. "I'm concerned. I've been concerned all year long. We have not played well defensively."

Next up for Zimmer's flailing defense: Carson Wentz and the Super Bowl champion Eagles. Bonne chance.

  1. Perhaps the Rams rushed Marcus Peters back too soon. Originally expected to miss up to four weeks with a calf injury, the cornerback was questionable coming in, then surprisingly activated and placed in the starting lineup. Minnesota took advantage of Peters' limited mobility, targeting him with the route-running extraordinaire Thielen and on deep throws. Just four days after being helped off the field by trainers, Peters played all 72 defensive snaps. That being said, nice showing from Sam Shields, who made his first start Thursday since the 2016 season opener and showed out with a touchdown-saving swat on Diggs in the second quarter.
  1. The return of Dalvin Cook to Minnesota's starting lineup did nothing to ignite the running game, which stumbled for the second consecutive week. Cook (10 carries), Latavius Murray (2) and Roc Thomas (1) combined for just 26 yards on the ground. That lack of balance, even in a shootout, is troubling for a supposed NFC North contender.
  1. When are the Rams going to lose? Los Angeles plays four road games in their next five, including one against the Saints in Week 9. The Rams also welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to the Coliseum in Week 8 and clash with Patrick Mahomes's Chiefs in Mexico City in Week 11.
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