ATLANTA (Reuters) - When Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff entered the league as the first overall draft pick in 2016 he struggled so badly that some thought he would go down in NFL history as an all-time bust.
Three years later, the 24-year-old from Northern California is in the Super Bowl and his critics have been silenced.
Goff on Monday said he never stopped believing he could lead his team to a championship even after going winless in the first seven starts of his rookie season, where he threw seven interceptions and just five touchdowns.
“I never doubted myself and I stayed confident,” he told reporters at Super Bowl Opening Night in Atlanta.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the game, what’s important, what’s not, and how to prepare.”
Goff said his priority on Sunday will be limiting turnovers against the stout New England Patriots defense.
The Super Bowl will pit fresh faced Goff against 41-year-old Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is making his ninth Super Bowl appearance.
Goff said his first Super Bowl memory as a kid was watching Brady pilot the Patriots to a win over the then St. Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl and said he was as impressed as anyone with Brady’s ability to continue to perform at a high level.
“Brady’s longevity is incredible and what makes him special is his never-ending perseverance and drive.
“People continue to try to count him out and he keep coming back and playing again and again and having tremendous years.”
Asked what his seven-year-old self would think about beating Brady in the Super Bowl, Goff said that would be the wrong question to ask.
“He’d be telling this 24-year-old don’t focus on him, focus on their defense,” he said with a laugh.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; editing by Amlan Chakraborty