Goff kicks Lions; Bolts don’t

JUSTIN HERBERT played well against the Chiefs but a questionable coaching decision may have cost the Chargers a key win (Chargers/Mike Nowak).

You could make a pretty good argument that one of the best things that Jared Goff ever did for the Los Angeles Rams came after he left the Los Angeles Rams.

Mr. Goff, who was shuffled off to Detroit after a couple of disappointing seasons here, became the field general for a Lions team that was winless through 10 games. But they have since warmed up and won two of three, the last one being the victory that should make Rams’ fans send a “thank you” card up to Michigan.

Playing like the guy the Rams thought they had drafted, Goff passed for 216 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions as the Lions upset the Arizona Cardinals 30-12 on Sunday.

That dropped the Cards’ record to 10-4. The Rams, therefore, at 9-4 can knot up the NFC West race with a win on Tuesday (a coronavirus-inspired schedule change) against the Seattle Seahawks (5-8).

The Rams got a lucky break with Detroit’s unexpected win, but the Los Angeles Chargers got their hearts’ broken in Thursday’s 34-28 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Playing against future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes, the Chargers rallied from a 10-0 deficit and scored what could have been the winning touchdown on a pass from Justin Herbert to Keenan Allen with a little over five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But that was too much time as the Chiefs tied it at 28-all on a Mahomes to Travis Kelce TD pass with just 17 seconds to go. In overtime, Mahomes again hooked up with Kelce, this time for 34 yards and the game-winning TD.

The loss was all the more … bitter? perplexing? … because Chargers’ head coach Brandon Staley thrice passed up chip-shot field goal tries in order to go for it on fourth down and failed.

Given another chance, would Staley have done it differently?
“That’s the way we’re gonna play around here,” he said. “When we have a quarterback like ours and an offense like ours, that’s the way we’re going to play.”

The Chargers will get another chance on Sunday in Houston against the Texans (3-11). Maybe they’ll kick the field goal there.

Keeping an eye on the playoff picture

Crippled by injuries and perhaps by a lack of determined defense, the Lakers and the Clippers are mired in the middle of the NBA Pacific Division and in danger of missing the playoffs. The Clips are 16-14 and are sixth in the Western Conference. The Lakers are just a half-game worse at 16-15, but it’s a big half-game because that places them in seventh place.

The top eight teams in each conference make the post-season, making the LA teams just a couple of losses away from dropping below “the line.”

In the NHL, the situation is a little more complex with 16 qualifiers. The top three teams in each division qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, along with the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, regardless of division.

The Ducks (tied for first in the NHL Pacific) are in good shape, but not the Kings, who are fifth in the Pacific but 10th in the conference. The boys from Staples Center did help their cause on Sunday with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Washington Capitols on the road.

Sports Calendar for the coming week

  • Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday
  • Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans on Sunday
  • Los Angeles Lakers host the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, then the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
  • Los Angeles Clippers visit the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, and then host the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
  • Los Angeles Kings will visit the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday and the Arizona Coyotes next Monday (Dec. 27).
  • Anaheim Ducks’ games scheduled on Monday in Edmonton and Tuesday in Calgary have been postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Point After: “Some things are just out of control that we can’t control,” said the Lakers’ Carmelo Anthony after a 115-110 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

“Sports Monday” will take the week off because of the holidays and be back on Jan. 4, 2022.

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