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Rams Defeat Cowboys 35-30, Improve to 3-1

Posted Oct 1, 2017

RB Todd Gurley had over 200 yards from scrimmage to help lead Los Angeles to its second road victory in two weeks.

Updated: 10/1 9:00 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Running back Todd Gurley had 215 yards from scrimmage and kicker Greg Zuerlein set a single-game franchise record with seven field goals, as the Rams defeated the Cowboys 35-30.

Though Los Angeles had trouble slowing down Dallas’ offense in the first half — the Cowboys didn’t punt in the first two quarters and entered the break up 24-16 — the Rams outscored the home team 19-6 in the final two periods.

“Great job by our team as a whole,” head coach Sean McVay said after the victory. “We talk about it all the time, putting all three phases together, and that’s what good teams do when you have to win against a great opponent on the road.

“Can’t tell you guys the amount of respect we have for the Dallas Cowboys and [head coach Jason] Garrett and their players,” McVay continued. “So, a really good day for us. I know the players are excited about it.”

Awarded NFC Offensive Player of the Month earlier this week, Gurley continued his strong start to the 2017 season with 121 yards rushing on 23 carries and seven receptions for 94 yards — including a 53-yard touchdown reception. Gurley finished as Los Angeles’ leading receiver.

“It means a lot to me,” Gurley said. “The mindset [McVay] has of me being able to step up and be able to catch passes, it just takes a lot of stress off of everybody.”

“Todd Gurley continues to show why he is a special player,” McVay said.

Zuerlein’s seven field goals came from 49, 44, 44, 30, 28, 43, and 33-yards out. He accounted for 23 of Los Angeles’ points — seven field goals, two extra points — which is No. 2 in a single game on the franchise’s all-time list. The kicker has now converted 18 consecutive field-goal attempts and was a clear difference maker for L.A. on Sunday.

“Anytime you’re making kicks it’s good, but I think, more importantly, we won the game,” Zuerlein said. “That it helps us win is great, but ultimately it’s all about winning and we got that, so that’s all that matters.”

“Greg’s absolute nails, and seven is rare and crazy,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “To go 7-for-7 — we wouldn’t win the game without him.”

The Cowboys got off to a hot start in the first half, with quarterback Dak Prescott leading the club to 21 second-quarter points. After both teams traded early field goals, the Dallas used a 15-play drive ending in an Ezekiel Elliott 10-yard touchdown reception to take a 10-3 lead.

Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Dallas 35. Zuerlein would hit his second field goal of the day to cut Dallas’ lead to 10-6.

That’s when running back Alfred Morris popped off a 70-yard run to move the Cowboys deep into Rams territory. Elliott scored his second touchdown on the day — a one-yard run — to increase Dallas’ lead once again.

But Los Angeles would get back on the board, taking advantage of strong field position after a muffed punt. After Cowboys returner Ryan Switzer fumbled the second-quarter kick, cornerback Troy Hill recovered the loose ball on Dallas’ 18. A few plays later, Goff found rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp on the left side for a seven-yard touchdown pass.

With a 17-13 lead, the home team scored its third touchdown of the second quarter when Prescott connected with wideout Brice Butler for a 10-yard touchdown pass. With a Zuerlein field goal as time expired in the first half, the Rams cut the Cowboys lead to eight points at halftime. 


Los Angeles allowed 287 total yards and 133 yards rushing in the first half, but was able to make some necessary halftime adjustments under coordinator Wade Phillips.

“Real credit to coach Wade and his staff,” McVay said. “They made some adjustments at halftime and guys stood up and they were much more efficient on early downs.”

L.A. forced three straight Dallas punts to open the second half, and the offense capitalized by scoring 10 points in the third quarter to take the lead. Zuerlein connected on a 30-yard field goal to cap a drive. And then the Rams used only four plays to move 90 yards for their second touchdown.

Gurley began that possession with a 16-yard run, immediately followed by a seven-yard run to push L.A. to its own 33. Running back Malcolm Brown then took a screen pass 14 yards, setting the Rams up at their own 47. That’s when McVay dialed up a skinny post to Gurley on the offense’s right. Goff hit the running back in the middle of the field in stride, and Gurley took it the rest of the way for a 53-yard touchdown.

“It’s a play we worked on a pretty good amount this week,” Goff said. “Sure enough it gets called in the game and you kind of perk up a little bit when you know it’s a good one. Todd ran his route just the way he’s supposed to, we got the coverage we wanted, and made the play.”

“We’ve been practicing it and it was one of those plays that it was like, ‘Are you going to score in practice or are you going to actually score in a game?’ So, those don’t happen very often,” Gurley said.

Zuerlein extended the lead to 32-24 with a pair of fourth-quarter field goals, the latter of which came after a L.A. takeaway. On 3rd-and-9 from Dallas’ own 22, defensive tackle Michael Brockers got pressure on Prescott, inducing him to throw an errant, floating pass. After review, it was determined linebacker Mark Barron got his arms under the ball on a dive, securing an interception for an extra possession deep in Cowboys territory.

Down eight with 9:41 left in the fourth quarter, Prescott engineered a quick drive ending in a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end James Hanna. Dallas went for two to tie the game, but the home team’s first play — a Prescott quarterback draw — was called back for offensive holding. Now on the 12-yard line, Barron intercepted the Cowboys’ second two-point attempt — but that was also nullified, this time due to defensive holding. Finally, Prescott’s seven-yard pass to wideout Terrence Williams fell incomplete, keeping the Rams ahead 32-30 with just over seven minutes left in the contest.

Los Angeles put together a nice response drive, holding the ball for 5:16 while also inducing Dallas to burn the rest of its timeouts. Gurley went over 100 yards rushing for the second time in two weeks on the possession, gaining consecutive first downs with a 12- and 11-yard run. Zuerlein’s 33-yard field goal gave the Rams 35 points.

The 12-play, 68-yard drive helped push Los Angeles’ fourth quarter time of possession to 10:06.

“I thought there was a couple key situations that came up within that drive where it ended up leading to a field goal,” McVay said. “We would’ve loved to have come away with a touchdown there, but the 3rd-and-5 where Jared does a good job of progressing and getting it to Todd, that was a huge conversion.”

Dallas got the ball back with 1:55 left and no timeouts. And though Prescott was able to scramble for a first down on 3rd-and-10 from his own 40-yard line, the Rams’ defense came through on the next set of downs. On 4th-and-10 from the Los Angeles 48, Prescott checked a pass down to Elliott, and rookie safety John Johnson brought the running back down a yard short of the sticks for a turnover on downs.

With just 27 seconds on the clock, Goff took a knee to bring Los Angeles to 3-1 on the young season.

“To finish this quarter 3-1 and having them be two big, big road wins with our defense on the field needing to make a stop and they do — for us to finish both of those ways is huge for our team and the chemistry and everything in between,” Goff said. “Just continues to build that camaraderie and that belief in each other that we always have. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Rams will face their second NFC West opponent of the season next Sunday when the Seahawks come to town.