NASHVILLE — If the “Gurley for MVP” campaign got going in last week’s win over the Seahawks, Sunday’s NFC West-clinching victory over the Titans provided what could be a terrific closing statement.
The Rams have relied on running back Todd Gurley to pace their offense all year, and Gurley has continued to show why he’s in the conversation as one of the best players in the league. He did that in particular on Sunday, racking up 276 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns to help lead L.A. to a 27-23 win.
With 158 yards receiving and 118 yards rushing, Gurley became only the third player in NFL history to have at least 150 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing in a single game. Hall of Fame running back Ollie Matson and running back Herschel Walker are the only two other players to accomplish the feat, in 1954 and 1986, respectively.
It's true — Gurley’s performance was so good and so unique that something like it hadn’t even been done in his lifetime.
That’s about as rare as it gets.
And it’s why all of Gurley’s teammate were clear about how they view him in a celebratory postgame locker room.
“MVP. That’s it,” outside linebacker Robert Quinn said. “MVP — point blank, period.”
“MVP for sure. If he ain’t winning, there’s something wrong,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “You see it. What he’s putting on film and what he’s doing week in and week out, definitely for sure with no doubt in my mind — that’s the MVP. For sure.”
“He is [the MVP] in my book,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I think if there’s anyone out there, if there’s a running back that deserves it, he’s the guy. I know there‘s a bunch of other guys doing great things, but he’s got my vote."
In fact, with Sunday’s performance, he’s even got other team’s quarterbacks endorsing him.
Gurley had 32 touches on Sunday, perhaps none more mesmerizing than one in the second quarter.
Los Angeles had just lost its three-point lead when Tennessee recovered a fumble deep inside the visitors territory and returned it for a touchdown. But on 2nd-and-11 from the L.A. 20, head coach Sean McVay dialed up a screen to the left and Gurley took it 80 yards for a touchdown — blazing past all defenders who attempted to stop him.
“Coach called a great play,” Gurley said. “A couple of backers blitzed, but he was able to get out. Linemen did a great job and was able to take it all the way to the house.”
Gurley admitted he did look at the Jumbotron on his way to the end zone in order to make sure he wasn’t going to get caught before scoring.
“That’s why I kind of started turning because I saw 31 behind me and then I didn’t know I was running to one of the fastest dudes, Adoree [Jackson] right behind me,” Gurley said. “It was a struggle in those last couple of yards, but I got it done.”
Any long scoring play is going to be significant. But given the game situation, that Gurley touchdown seemed to mean just a bit more for the Rams’ sideline.
“It picked us up. That’s what he’s there for,” Donald said of the 80-yard TD. “He plays like that to help us win and when he did that he was picking the defense up. We feed off each other.”
“His numbers were ridiculous,” Quinn said. “And he’s been doing that all year. Kind of when things don’t go right, it seems like he comes and adds a spark or gives life back to the team.”
But that’s what happens when Gurley has the ball in his hands, and McVay has clearly made an effort to give him as many touches as possible over the last two games. In that span, Gurley has 456 yards from scrimmage on 56 touches — an average of 8.14 yards per play — with six touchdowns.
“When you’ve got a guy stepping up — you know, we always talk about be your best when your best is required — that’s what we define as that competitive greatness,” McVay said. “And I think Todd’s displayed that as much as anybody these last couple of weeks.”
After Sunday’s remarkable performance, Gurley now has 2,093 yards from scrimmage with a league-leading 19 touchdowns in 2017. Whether that’s enough to be named MVP remains to be seen.
But it also wasn’t something Gurley seemed to be too concerned with after the Rams had clinched their first NFC West title since 2003.
“Man I’m just excited about the win,” Gurley said. “I’m just out here playing a game that I love every Sunday and have been able to do good thanks to these guys in the locker room for helping me out.”