Los Angeles won its first divisional matchup of the year on Thursday night, outlasting San Francisco 41-39 on Thursday Night Football. With plenty to go over, here are five takeaways from the victory that made the Rams 2-1.
1) Excellent offense
Despite the short week, Los Angeles looked prepared and confident throughout the game on offense. The Rams racked up 418 total yards — the first time the club has eclipsed 400 yards since 2014. The club has now scored 107 points through the first three games, which is a far cry from the 46 it had at this point last year.
"Credit goes to the players for being able to execute and being able to maintain some drives and put up some points," head coach Sean McVay said postgame.
"We had a short week so we only had so long to game plan," quarterback Jared Goff said. "We have so much variety in our offense and so much stuff that we do, that we can mix and match and dress up in different ways.
"So I think that's the main thing we tried to do, is run stuff that we know we're good at and run stuff that we know we're comfortable with, but maybe make it look like something else. But at the same time, if we can run the ball like that, it's tough to beat."
Additionally, the Rams hadn't scored at least 40 points in two games since 2006. Now they've done it two of their first three times out.
There's still improvements to be made, for sure, but L.A. has clearly made significant progress under McVay.
2) Goff looks the part
Within those 418 yards and 41 points were a number of strong individual offensive performances, one being quarterback Jared Goff.
Last year's No. 1 overall pick finished 22/28 passing for 292 yards with three touchdowns. That works out to 10.4 yards per attempt and a 145.8 passer rating. A perfect passer rating is 158.3.
"I think he did a lot of really good things. I thought he distributed the ball well. I thought in crunch time, some of the third down conversions he made were really exciting," McVay said Friday. "Anytime that you go 22-for-28 you feel pretty good, taking care of the football and then again, no sacks, huge credit to the offensive line, so can't say enough about what those guys did yesterday as well."
Through three games, Goff has looked like a player who spent a lot of time working to improve during the offseason. He's completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 817 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He's averaging 10.1 yards per attempt, 14.3 yards per completion, and owns a passer rating of 118.2
"What's crazy is how much he humbled himself and just went to work," offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said. "After that he started trusting us — trusting the guys in front of him. I mean there's going to be battles, there's going to be technique off here and there, but to be able to sit in the pocket and throw whenever you have somebody barreling at you or if you have somebody right in your face, that's what makes the difference. He is just gradually becoming the quarterback that we want him to be and the way that he's supposed to be."
3) Gurley does, too**
In just three weeks, running back Todd Gurley has already equaled his touchdown total from last year.
Gurley had three first-half touchdowns on Thursday night — two rushing, one receiving. He had a rushing touchdown in Los Angeles' win over Indianapolis, then a rushing and receiving touchdown against Washington last week to give him six on the young season.
The Georgia product finished the game with 149 yards from scrimmage — 113 yards rushing, 36 yards receiving. It's the first time Gurley has gone over 100 yards rushing since 2015.
"It felt good," Gurley said. "Obviously defense gave me the easiest touchdown ever on the first play. And we just got into a rhythm, everybody was getting going. We were able to have a little success running the ball and we're opening up the passing game. It just felt good to be out there and execute as an offense."
The running back helped the Rams build their lead, and was the offense's needed closer, too. Gurley started a fourth-quarter possession with a 29-yard run, and followed that with a 27-yard check down reception on 3rd-and-10 to extend the drive.
Gurley has been heavily involved in the passing game so far this season, making 13 receptions for 140 yards.
"It's very comforting knowing that he can make a play and make a catch," Goff said. "He's a very sure-handed player. He's also a very good communicator, in body language as well as verbally, while he's running his routes and on the sidelines as well."
4) Woods, Watkins steal the show
Two former Buffalo receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods have shown how productive they can be in Los Angeles' offense, becoming the first pair of Rams to eclipse 100 yards receiving in the same game since 2006 when wideout Isaac Bruce and running back Steven Jackson accomplished the feat.
Watkins made six receptions for 106 yards with two touchdowns. Woods finished with six receptions for 108 yards.
"That's our offense — we want to just keep it like that, keep it balanced," Woods said. "You don't know who is going to strike at any time. I think now when teams play us, they can't hold the box, they can't play outside. So just have to keep being balanced and I think it will open up our offense to keep scoring points like that."
"It means a lot [to have them on the offense], obviously two explosive guys, two guys that make plays together," Gurley said. "So, they have been doing a great job for us in helping us out."
Unfortunately, Watkins had to leave the game in the fourth quarter and has been placed in the concussion protocol. But both wideouts have made their presence felt.
5) And about the defense and special teams…
There's no question the Rams' defense and special teams will have to improve after Thursday's performance.
Defensively, the unit performed well when it had to — like on the two-point conversion attempt and after the onside kick. But defensive tackle Michael Brockers credited the Niners for having a strong plan of attack.
"I think it's just a chess match," he said. "We were prepared for them to run the ball a little bit. They came out on first down and did some play action passes, caught us in some stuff. But this game is a chess match, they're adjusting and we're adjusting so I just give it to a testament that they made some good adjustments at halftime and had a great game plan for us."
As for special teams — which had an uncharacteristically sloppy day under coordinator John Fassel with turnovers and penalties — McVay said he expects the unit to correct the mistakes.
"We've got to take better care of the football," McVay said. "Those are things that with our players that are touching the ball, it will be addressed, they'll make sure that they're moving on and improving from that. Then just some of those situations as far as jumping offsides from a 4th and 2 where you give them a first down – we just can't do that. It starts with us as coaches and then the players have to make sure that they understand those situations."
Check out the best photos from the Rams' Week 3 victory over the 49ers.