MINNEAPOLIS — After a historic turnaround season, the Rams also made some history at Saturday's NFL Honors.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Los Angeles became the first team to ever win AP Offensive Player of the Year, AP Defensive Player of the Year, and AP Coach of the Year.
Running back Todd Gurley, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and head coach Sean McVay earned each honor, respectively, providing a fitting finish to what was a terrific 2017 season.
"That means a lot to our organization and really it's a reflection of those players," McVay said in a press conference following the ceremony. "You look at what Todd and Aaron were able to do, how instrumental they were of the success that we did have. Being able to win a division for the first time in a long time, it was something that we'll use as motivation moving into the offseason.
"It does feel a little bittersweet only because you remember the Falcons game and those are thing that I know I want to do a better job for our team — the way that I can look at myself critically and figure out how we can get better," McVay continued. "But it's a great night for the organization and very happy for those guys and our team."
McVay called Coach of the Year "truly the ultimate team award" during his acceptance speech, before thanking members of the organization from Owner/Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke on down.
"I feel so blessed to be able to work with a great group of guys," McVay said in his speech of the Rams' players. "Guys that from day one we're accountable to each other, we're committed to each other. They did things the right way. And they built a culture amongst themselves that is something as a coach, you feel proud to be a part of."
Hired as the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, McVay led the Rams to an 11-5 record and their first NFC West title since 2003. And as the offensive play caller, McVay helped make Los Angeles just the second team in NFL history to go from last to first in scoring from one year to the next.
"Very humbling and flattering to be able to receive this. But this is a reflection of our team and our organization," McVay said. "Great team, great coaches, great players and I'm just happy to be a part of it. Obviously, ultimately what you want to be doing this time of year is still practicing and getting a chance to compete — what the Eagles and Patriots are doing — but I think tonight is a great representation of our organization. I'm very happy for Todd and Aaron, I think it's very well deserved and ultimately great players like that make you better coach. But humbled to accept this award on behalf of our team and that's exactly what this is tonight."
Aside from being the first team to win all three awards, Los Angeles became the first team since 2003 to sweep the AP Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards — and only the second team in history to accomplish that feat.
"It just tells you the type of players we have on the team," Gurley said. "We all help each other out. Absolutely we have some talent, but we're nothing without the whole nine yards and everything together. And then we also have a coach who's up for Coach of the Year so that just shows us why we're in the situation we're in, being able to come away with those awards."
Gurley is just the third Ram to be named AP Offensive Player of the Year — the first since 2001. He's also only the third running back since 2010 to receive the honor after finishing the year No. 1 with 2,093 yards from scrimmage, 19 total touchdowns, and 13 rushing touchdowns.
"It means a lot for sure. Just thankful for my family, for my teammates, coach McVay — coming in and just changing everything around for us. Our first playoff appearance in a long time, and for Goff to have the year he did, the O-line, everybody," Gurley said. "And then for me and AD to win Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year — it's crazy. So, definitely blessed and thankful to be in this position."
The running back's turnaround is particularly impressive considering the results of his 2016 campaign.
"That's what I love about sports man. You're not going to have a good year every year. That's why you go through the bad times to enjoy the good times like this," Gurley said. "It just shows you the people we are and the type of team we were to be able to go through that rough stretch and bounce back — to be able to turn everything around. No better feeling than winning games, especially in the NFL."
Donald noted that he was feeling a bit emotional after receiving his first Defensive Player of the Year award.
"It's just a dream come true," Donald said. "Words can't really express how I'm feeling right now. Trying to hold back the tears, trying to man up a little bit. But it's truly a blessing."
The former AP Defensive Rookie of the Year had a stellar 2017, despite playing just 14 games in the regular season. Donald tied a career high with 11.0 sacks and led the league with 91 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. That performance made him the first interior lineman to win Defensive Player of the Year since Warren Sapp in 1999.
Donald said knowing that means, "Everything. That's one of the best to ever do it. So, even for my name to be next to that guy's name that's beyond a blessing. My dad's been telling me since I was 12 years old working out in my basement, trying to work to get to this point — hard work pays off. You put the body of work and it's going to pay off for you. It's just been paying off big."
With these three awards in tow from NFL Honors, it's easy to feel optimistic about the future of the L.A. Rams. But 2018 will be a new season, and that means the club will have to get back to work in order to stay atop the NFC West.
"I think it's something we can draw on, something we can build off where it's not about starting over. I do feel very fortunate to be a part of it," McVay said. "We're excited. I know that there will be some raised expectations, but we love that. We won't shy away from it. What it's going to be about for us is staying with our process and developing a standard of performance, and that's one day at a time, one practice at a time. We'll relax a little bit but when we come back we're going to attack this offseason program the right way and we're very excited about that."