Rams Remain Undefeated
Beat Broncos 23-20 in Denver
October 18, 2018
Last season running back Todd Gurley was the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, leading the league with 19 touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams to an 11-5 record. In July, he signed a $60 million contract extension through the 2023 season that now looks like a bargain-basement deal for the undefeated Rams.
Thankfully, it was the Todd Gurley Show at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver on a freezing Sunday afternoon, October 13 as the Rams outlasted a fourth quarter rally by the Broncos to win 23-20. The Rams are the NFL’s remaining undefeated team this season with a perfect 6-0 record.
Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards on 28 carries and scored both L.A. touchdowns as the team won by three points on the road for the second consecutive week. The Rams have now won 10 of 11 road games since Sean McVay took over as head coach starting last season. Gurley leads the NFL this season with 11 touchdowns and 632 rushing yards.
“Credit to those guys up front. They did a great job and we finished the game,” said Gurley. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without those guys up front… Woods, Kupp, Higbee, everybody out there. It was a team effort.”
“Coach is doing a great job play calling and we were hitting the outside zone. Those guys just opened it up. The rest, all I have to do is really just run.”
Yet McVay wasn’t satisfied with his play calling against Denver. Compound that with quarterback Jared Goff having his least productive game of the year while getting sacked five times. Goff completed 14/28 passes for 201 yards and one interception. He failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this season.
A 20-3 Ram lead at 6:09 in the third quarter was reduced to the upset-minded Broncos attempting an onside kick with 1:22 remaining in regulation. Robert Woods knocked the scrambled kick out of bounds to preserve a game in which the Rams never trailed. It was the fourth straight game in which they nailed the door shut in the fourth quarter.
“I thought our defense did an excellent job stopping the run against a really good run offense. Thought they came up big today,” said McVay. “Offensively, I thought we ran the football really well and I thought I put us in some horrible spots… just throughout the game getting really impatient.”
But Gurley responded: “He’s always like that. He’s just a great coach. No matter if it’s our fault he’s always taking the blame and saying he could do a better job. It’s what we love about him.”
The Rams took the lead on kicker Cairo Santos’ 26-yard field goal on their first possession. He added another 39-yard field goal for at 6-0 first quarter lead. The Broncos scored a touchdown on the next drive but it was negated on a review of Bronco wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders 43-yard catch. Sanders, also assessed a 15-yard penalty for taunting, resulted in Denver’s Brandon McManus’ 28-yard field goal.
Goff briefly ignited the Ram offense, using Gurley who gained 58 of the 66-yard drive into the second quarter. Another McVay gamble paid off as Gurley ran off left tackle on fourth-and-one for a 10-yard touchdown. Misfortune struck on the team’s next drive: wide receiver Cooper Kupp suffered a knee injury on a horse-collar tackle by safety Darian Stewart. The Rams 13-3 halftime lead felt subdued.
“Tough, tough win. Granted ran for over 200 yards. Todd was incredible, up front I thought we were really good. I would like to be a lot better but a win’s a win. I’m happy with it,” said Goff.
“We hold ourselves in such a high standard that when we turn the ball over and don’t score 30 points, it doesn’t feel the same… We’re very lucky to be in this position but we’ve worked to get here.”
Gurley scored his second touchdown at 6:09 of the third quarter from the one-yard line, finishing an 8-play 58-yard drive for a 20-3 lead. Denver’s defense turned the momentum when Stewart intercepted a pass from Goff that bounced off of wide receiver Josh Reynolds. Bronco quarterback Case Keenum hit Sanders across the middle for a 22-yard touchdown plays later.
Santos failed to convert a critical 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter that would have given the Rams a 23-10 cushion lead. It sealed Santos’ fate as the team released him this past Tuesday. That coincides with All-Pro kicker Greg Zuerlein being activated and returning to action this Sunday at San Francisco.
McManus added a 24-yard field goal at 8:57 in the fourth quarter cutting the lead, 20-13. Bradley Chubb, Von Miller and Stewart combined for five sacks on Goff with Chubb registering three. Miller’s sack in the fourth helped force the Rams to settle for Santos’ 21-yard clinching field goal and a 23-13 lead with 3:15 remaining.
The Rams travel to Levi’s Stadium to take on NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers (1-5) this Sunday, October 21. The Niners’ promising season took a hit when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in a September loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo signed a five-year $137.5 million contract in early February.
Kyle Shanahan is in his second year as the 49er head coach, having finished last season with a 6-10 record, thanks to the mid-season trade for Garappolo with the New England Patriots. They ended last season with five-game winning streak including a season-ending 34-13 thrashing of the Rams in the Coliseum, who rested their starters leading into the playoffs.