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Gurley, Anderson run Rams to NFC Championship Game

A month ago, who could've seen this coming?

Not necessarily 273 yards rushing as a team in a game. The Rams did reach a season-high 270 against the Broncos back in Week 6.

But to do it with these two running backs — that's what boggles the mind.

Before Saturday night, the last time the Rams had two players go over 100 yards rushing in a single game was back in November 2001, when Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and Trung Candidate did it. The franchise had never had that happen in a postseason game.

That's until Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson combined for 238 yards on the league's No. 5 rushing defense en route to a 30-22 playoff victory over Dallas in the Divisional round.

"We thought it was going to be a nice complement," head coach Sean McVay said. "If you told me it was going to work out as well as it did tonight — I don't know that I would've said that. But the guys did a great job."

Gurley had 115 yards on 16 carries — including a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter that was his longest TD of the season. And Anderson put down 123 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns.

"Todd is obviously what Todd is — in my opinion, the best back in the league — and can do so many things," quarterback Jared Goff said. "Then C.J. comes in and knows his role and knows what we need him to do and protects and does all that stuff right. It's just been a really good combo."

"It was just fun — big boys played really great up front," Anderson said. "Me and Todd just tried to pick the right spots and like I said when Todd wants to rest we are just trying to not miss a beat."

But to really dissect how the Rams did this, you have to start up front. Los Angeles' offensive line was as good as it's been all year, pushing the Cowboys' defensive line back to open up holes. Like on Gurley's 35-yard touchdown, which Gurley described as the "Red Sea" parting so that he could burst through the hole and score. Or any number of Anderson's runs, which time and again seemed to end up moving the chains.

"The big boys played great up front, I just tried to pick the right spots — O-line gets all the credit — just back here trying to pick the right holes," Anderson said.

"O-line did a great job," Gurley said. "They opened up holes and we just stuck with the run."

Center John Sullivan said the Rams had a good plan heading into this week, and had picked up on some tendencies from the Dallas defense that helped the team move the ball.

"We were confident, we always talk about confidence in yourself because you have to know that you can go out and do your job and then confidence that the guys next to you are going to do their job," Sullivan said. "When 11 guys are on the field all playing together and working in unison to accomplish a goal, it makes you tough to beat."

And though the Rams have run the ball well all year — they did finish No. 3 in total rushing yards and yards per carry — they knew Dallas' defense was challenging. That's especially after the Cowboys shut down the Seahawks No. 1 rushing attack last week, allowing just 73 yards on the ground.

"You're always going to feel the challenge, it's the NFL, guys are really good so there's not slouches in this league, you have to bring it every week," right tackle Rob Havenstein said. "Our week of preparation that we had — I think that guys were really in-tune with our game plan and what we needed to get done. I think we went out there and executed very well."

Maybe it was the bye week coming into play, allowing the five up front to be particularly fresh. But the team undoubtedly had a great plan and approach in order to dominate the game on the ground like that.

"I thought coach Kromer and the offensive line and our offensive coaching staff just getting a great gameplay together and then, ultimately, the players executing was special," McVay said, referring to run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

As for those two running backs, Gurley looked like himself on Saturday after missing Weeks 16 and 17 with a knee injury — especially on that 35-yard run.

"Coach called a great play, everybody did their job, and all I had to do was just cut one time and just run," Gurley said of the touchdown. 

"I mean, you saw it — he was great," Goff said of Gurley. "He was himself and you could see how fresh he was."