The situation had come up before.
It was a long time ago, sure. But back in 2015, the Rams had the ball and a slim two-point lead over the Cardinals with just over a minute to go. On 3rd-and-12 from the Arizona 38, Gurley took a handoff to the left side, gained a first down, then gave himself up after a 30-yard gain instead of charging into the end zone for what would've been the first touchdown of his career.
Why go down? With no timeouts, Arizona had no way to get the ball back. Stats would've been nice, sure. But the 'W' was more important.
Three years later, the Rams had an eerily similar situation in the Week 8 matchup with the Packers — albeit with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the opposite sideline, who is perhaps the league's biggest threat when it comes to late-game comebacks. On 3rd-and-10 from the Green Bay 21 with just 1:05 left in the contest, Gurley took a toss to the left for 17 yards, giving himself up before getting to the end zone to secure the victory with the Packers having no remaining timeouts.
Gurley is leading the league in many categories and certainly another touchdown would've added to his case for a potential MVP award. But, once again, guaranteeing a win was more important.
"Man, forget fantasy and forget Vegas today," Gurley said. "We got the win and that's all that matters."
Head coach Sean McVay talks a lot about how the Rams have to be situational masters. That's part of why when he sent in the play call, he gave a reminder that scoring on that particular play wouldn't be the smart football move. Peter King of NBC Sports reported that the Rams have a word for that — "Rolex," because time is more important than the points.
"That's something that we talk about, but Todd probably would've done that on his own," McVay said. "But when we send it in we say, 'Alright, this is a situation where if we get the first down we're going down, we don't want to score.' But smart players find a way to just make happen when it comes down to it."
"We talked about it right prior. Had I not told him, he might have done it on his own anyways," quarterback Jared Goff said, nothing how smart Gurley is as a player. "I saw when he kind of slowed down, he knew what he was doing. I was just hoping he didn't get out of bounds. Again, he's a smart player — a lot smarter, I think, than he wants people to think. He did a great job."
Sunday was another display of Gurley's excellence throughout the contest. He finished with 114 yards rushing on 25 carries. He led the Rams with six receptions for 81 yards with a touchdown — including a stellar 32-yard fingertip reception toward the end of the second quarter that was initially ruled incomplete before the officials got it right after a review.
"I kind of had a feeling [it was a catch] because I got that left leg down," Gurley said, "but I was just hoping that they were going to review it."
And yet, on a day where Gurley recorded at least 145 yards from scrimmage for the fifth time this season and tied the franchise record by scoring a touchdown in 11 consecutive regular-season games, it was a play he basically didn't make that shows just how special he is as a player and teammate.
"That's what makes us the team that we are — unselfish players, situational masters. That's what it's all about, just having that edge," Gurley said. "It's not all about talent or whatever. You know you can always beat somebody by just knowing the situations of the game."
And that's exactly what Gurley did on Sunday.