It was not a Happy New Year for the Los Angeles Rams.
Jared Goff ended his rookie campaign without a victory as the Los Angeles Rams welcomed in the New Year with a loss, 44-6, to the Arizona Cardinals on New Year's Day at the Coliseum.
Goff threw for just 120 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, but was sacked seven times as the Rams stagnant offense was unable to reach the end zone.
"They had nothing to lose so they brought a lot of pressure," Goff said of the seven sacks. "I appreciate the effort from our group up front. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
The loss was the team's seventh consecutive of the season, all with Goff under center as the team has lost 11 of their final 12 games, finishing 4-12, their worst finish since the 2011 season, the year before they hired Jeff Fisher.
"We just lost our mojo," said linebacker Alec Ogletree of the team's 1-11 finish to the season. "I felt like we kept trying to play each week, but we didn't learn how to finish games."
Todd Gurley entered the game just 155 yards shy of 1,000 on the season, but had his worst performance on the ground in the finale, carrying the ball 14 times for just 40 yards.
"It didn't come," Gurley said of missing out on 1,000 yards this season. "Coming off a season like this, I don't ever want to feel this way again. I'm gonna work a little bit harder this offseason."
The Rams best offensive play of the game, and the season for that matter, came on a trick play at the end of the first quarter when rookie wide receiver Pharoh Cooper caught a screen pass and then threw to a wide-open Gurley at the ten-yard line.
However, the play personified the Rams season as the pass sailed in the air for too long, and was intercepted by Cardinals safety Harlan Miller at the last second.
Former USC Trojan, Carson Palmer, made his return to the Coliseum, and threw for 255 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
"I never dreamt I would get an opportunity to play in this facility again and it was everything I could have asked for and more," Palmer said of his return. "It was a beautiful day. We had tons of fans here. Just a great day and a great way to finish off this season."
J.J. Nelson caught four passes for 75 yards to led the Cardinals and Pro-Bowler Larry Fitzgerald had 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in the game. After his fourth quarter score, the remaining Cardinals fans at the Coliseum started chanting, "Larry, Larry, Larry!" for the veteran wideout.
"I heard it, it was nice to see that many Cardinal fans come out and support," said Fitzgerald. "It's always good when we can put a show on for them on the road."
All-Pro running back David Johnson was carted off the field with a horrific knee injury in the first quarter. Johnson's left leg was caught under a Rams' defensive end Eugene Sims and bent awkwardly on the play.
David Johnson carted off the field after this. Looks horrible. Hope it's not as bad as it looks. pic.twitter.com/qClep3HUvZ
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 1, 2017
Johnson set an NFL record with 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first 15 games last week, and was looking to extend that record to 16 games on Sunday. He was also seeking to become the first player since Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season. Johnson finished the year with 841 yards receiving, 159 short of the mark.
"Nothing seriuos it looks like right now," Arians said after the game. "We'll get an MRI tomorrow, but he's walking fine and he's in good spirits. Knock on wood there's no ligament damage.."
Rams punter Johnny Hekker extended his NFL-record for most punts inside the 20 with one more in the game. Hekker will finish the season with the record at 51 punts.
Plenty of questions surround the Rams as they head into the offseason. The most glaring will be if the team retains general manager Les Snead, and if not, who will replace him. After finding a new GM, who that person will hire as the next head coach and assistant coaches, thereafter.
"I'm going to go home tonight and spend some time with my wife and kids," said interim head coach John Fassel. "I am a Ram and I'm proud to be a Ram, but my fate is up to other people."
The team will be built on offense around Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley. The offensive line and wide receiver positions are glaring weaknesses for the team.
"This isn't the end, it's the beginning," said Goff after the game. "Whenever we get that new playbook while start learning it. Our guys are hungrier than ever."
On defense, the front line consisting of former Defensive Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler Aaron Donald is a strength, as is Alec Ogletree at linebacker. The secondary, especially at the cornerback position could be a place the team could upgrade.
"Something has to change, a lot has to change," said safety T.J. McDonald. "In this business, you want to move on, flush it and get this organization to where it needs to be."