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Quarterback Jared Goff returns to Los Angeles as Rams’ Matthew Stafford faces Detroit Lions

By GREG BEACHAM

AP Sports Writer

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Jared Goff was the Rams’ first draft pick after their return to Los Angeles a half-decade ago — the new quarterback for the franchise’s new era.

The tall, blond California native was a face of the Rams during their transformation from a longtime loser to a perennial title contender under coach Sean McVay. Goff made two Pro Bowls while leading Los Angeles to three playoff berths, two NFC West titles and a Super Bowl appearance.

And he was blindsided when McVay and the Rams traded him to the Detroit Lions last winter.

Goff claims he sensed no discontent with him from McVay or general manager Les Snead, and he had a massive new contract extension that hadn’t even started before Los Angeles shipped him out for Matthew Stafford.

Nearly nine months later, the shock has worn off for Goff, even if the disappointment lingers.

“I’ve got so many great memories, and so many friendships and lifelong bonds,” Goff said. “I think the sourness is there still from how it ended, but there are so much more good things that happened, that make you appreciative for those times, and appreciative that you’re able to experience them.”

Goff leads the Lions (0-6) into SoFi Stadium on Sunday to face the powerhouse Rams (5-1) in a potentially one-sided matchup that’s much more interesting because of the franchises’ mingled history. Along with that blockbuster swap of quarterbacks, Detroit also got top executive Brad Holmes and stalwart defensive tackle Michael Brockers from the Rams over the past year.

Goff seems likely to get pregame cheers from the fans who appreciate his role in the Rams’ growth, even if Stafford appears to be taking them to a higher level.

If Goff leads the Lions to a monumental upset, it will be the first victory of his six-year NFL career without McVay coaching him. The Rams went 0-7 with Goff as their rookie starter in 2016.

Although Stafford spent a dozen years in Detroit, he won’t see as many familiar faces as Goff on Sunday. The Lions are rebuilding, but Stafford is still looking forward to going against the young Detroit defensive backs he faced in practice.