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THOUSAND OAKS N'Keal Harry NFL Draft , Calif. (AP) — Jared Goff was 7 years old when Tom Brady beat the Rams to win his first Super Bowl in early 2002. The kid has been a fan of the superstar ever since.Goff is now 24, the same age as Brady was then. When Brady plays in his ninth Super Bowl next weekend in Atlanta for the New England Patriots, Goff will be on the other sideline for Los Angeles, neither star-struck nor cocky.Their 17-year age gap is the biggest between starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. Yet the passing years apparently mean little to Brady, and they’re just as unimportant to Goff, who sees no advantage in his youth and no disadvantage in his inexperience.“It’s a guy that you’ve looked up to for so long,” Goff said Thursday. “Now I get a chance to play in one with him. We do respect him, but I’m going to go out there and do my best and be the best I can be, and hopefully come out with a win.”Both quarterbacks will be under a relentless spotlight in the next week. Brady lives his life under that glare, while Goff is still getting used to it after just three years of being a No. 1 overall pick who stumbled early, but grew quickly into a successful quarterback.Goff doesn’t admit to seeing this Super Bowl as a chance to step into Brady’s echelon as one of the league’s elite passers, even if that’s what much of the football world is telling him. But after Goff led the Rams to 24 wins and two playoff victories over the past two years, the Rams already think he’s there.“We’re very confident in his ability to lead us, knowing that it’s a big game,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I think Jared will be himself, which is exactly what we want him to be.”Goff and Brady are from different generations, but the quarterbacks have a few things in common.They’re both from the Bay Area, with Brady growing up on the Peninsula and Goff in Marin County. Neither was a can’t-miss NFL prospect heading into college, but neither let it stop him.Already the winningest quarterback in NFL history, Brady will play in his 40th playoff game in Atlanta. Goff is playing in his fourth Color Rush Jarrett Stidham Jersey , but he is riding the momentum of his first two career postseason victories in the past two games.Goff didn’t have many plays on his shoulders two weeks ago when the Rams’ ground game ran over the Dallas Cowboys. He played a larger role in the Rams’ wild victory over the Saints, and he emerged with the renewed respect of his coaches and teammates.Goff clearly has the arm and the ability to succeed in McVay’s offense. In New Orleans last weekend, he demonstrated his ability to do more.“It’s big, I think, anytime you can go into an atmosphere like that, go down 13 (points) early, and then show the poise and perseverance and get through adversity the way we did and be able to come out on top late in the game,” Goff said.It wasn’t his best performance of the season, but it was probably the most satisfying.Goff went 25 of 40 for 297 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Saints. More importantly, he calmly rallied the Rams from an early 13-point deficit, and he made enough big plays down the stretch to keep the Rams in contention in that topsy-turvy game.“What stood out was the way that he was able to weather the storm,” McVay said. “The mental toughness was displayed by the team as a whole, and Jared kind of personified that with the way that he handled the game, his overall command, making big throws when we needed it the most. … Jared (showed) his ability to be at his best when his best was required. The competitive greatness showed up in a big way.”Goff and Brady have only faced each other once before. In December 2016, Brady became the NFL’s career victories leader in a 26-10 victory at New England, while Goff threw two interceptions in his third career start.Goff met Brady for the first time at that game. They’re friendly, but not yet close.When asked if it feels surreal to be heading toward a Super Bowl showdown with the mighty Patriots and a quarterback who has been winning championships for his entire life, Goff stifled a grin.“No,” he replied. “I’ve played these guys before.” FOXBOROUGH Youth Jarrett Stidham Jersey , Mass. (AP) — Jason McCourty has taken longer than usual to do things around the Patriots practice facility this week as he’s prepared for their divisional playoff matchup with the Chargers.He’s been one of the first to arrive at breakfast with his teammates. He’s lingered in meetings and often been one of the last players to make it off the field following workouts. Whatever the task, he has savored it.That’s because McCourty’s about to do something he’s never done during his NFL career: play meaningful football in January.In his nine previous seasons — eight in Tennessee and one in Cleveland — McCourty was never on a playoff team. Drafted by the Titans in 2009, the defensive back only got close to the postseason twice as a member of 9-7 Tennessee teams in 2011 and 2016.He signed with the Browns in 2017, only to suffer through a winless season before being dealt to the Patriots.This season has brought a list of firsts: his first division title, his first week of playoff practices and on Sunday, his first postseason game.“I’m enjoying every moment,” McCourty said. “Typically, I’ve already flown home or doing whatever I’m doing for the offseason. I’m definitely trying to savor each and every moment.”The move to New England has been a career refresher in other ways. First, it reunited him with his twin brother, safety Devin McCourty, whom he hadn’t played with since they starred at Rutgers. It’s also given Jason his first realistic chance to appear in a Super Bowl, something he and Devin dreamed about during their Pop Warner days.Devin, who won rings with the Patriots after the 2014 and 2016 seasons, has been Jason’s biggest mentor and fan.The twins are separated by only a single stall in the locker room and are typically only a few feet apart at the facility. They do a weekly segment with a Boston TV station and are active members of the NFL Players Coalition.They also share a Twitter account and have a YouTube show called “Double Trouble,” which they use to promote social justice causes and their sickle cell awareness initiative.Devin was a rookie on New England’s 2010 team that went 14-2 but lost to the Jets in the divisional round. He said he wants to ensure his brother’s first playoff experience doesn’t end the same way.“There’s no more, ‘My bad,’ or ‘I’ll get that next time,'” Devin said. “Ten years in the NFL, not tasting the playoffs, I think he probably realizes that more than any of us. He knows it’s not guaranteed and it doesn’t happen all the time.”Jason says in some ways the past few weeks have made him feel like a rookie again.“I joked with a lot of guys after every win Womens Jarrett Stidham Jersey , I was probably the loudest guy in here yelling and celebrating just because of what it means,” he said.Jason arrived in New England in March as part of a collection of defensive backs the Patriots signed to help fortify the secondary following the departure of cornerback Malcolm Butler, who signed with Tennessee.Jason wound up starting 12 games at left cornerback after Eric Rowe went on injured reserve in October with a groin injury. He also contributed on special teams.Jason’s lone interception of the season came late in the Patriots’ 24-12 win over Buffalo last month, which secured New England’s 10th straight AFC East title.“I think his leadership, his communication, his professionalism has been outstanding,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Been great to work with. Couldn’t ask for any more.”As proud as Devin is of his brother, he said their mother, Phyllis Harrell, might be more excited than both of them. She used to wear a custom half-Patriots, half-Titans jersey on game days. She updated it to a half-blue, half-white Patriots jersey this season honoring her sons.“I’ve won Super Bowls and all, but I think the thing she’s most wanted in our (NFL career) is Jason playing in the playoffs,” Devin said. “I’m sure she’ll be fired up to see him play in his first playoff game. She said that over and over, she just wanted him to get some type of success that I’ve had as far as the playoffs, the post-regular season, as far as the atmosphere. The McCourty gang will be pretty fired up Sunday.”
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