By Cedric Williams
In a season of fantastic performances that has the team on the cusp of its first NFC West Division title since 2003, the Los Angeles Rams delivered perhaps its best effort of the season Sunday in Seattle, when it clubbed the rival Seahawks, 42-7.
Sunday’s victory moved Los Angeles’ record to 10-4, while Seattle fell to 8-6. With two games left, that means the Rams simply need to win either of their final two games, or have the Seahawks lose either of their final two, and LA would be declared NFC West champions for 2017.
“Champions” seems especially appropriate following Sunday’s performance. The Rams were dominant at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, and looked like the better team in every way on just about every play. So it should surprise no one that we’ve got nothing but the highest marks for LA’s grades this week.
As a unit, the Rams put up 352 total yards on Sunday, which more than doubled Seattle’s output (149 yards). But what stood out even more was how one man, RB Todd Gurley, outgained the Seahawks all by himself.
Gurley had 152 rushing yards, which tops Seattle’s 149 by itself. But he also had another 28 receiving yards and four total touchdowns to go with it. And he did all that on just 24 touches.
For the season, Gurley leads the NFL with 17 TDs which, along with Sunday’s brilliant performance, could and probably should put him in the conversation for 2017 Most Valuable Player honors.
In holding Seattle to a season-low 149 yards, LA also got a spectacular effort from its best defensive player, as DT Aaron Donald was just about unblockable all day. The three-time Pro Bowler had three sacks, four quarterback hits, six hurries, and was in the Seahawks backfield just about as often as their quarterbacks and running backs were.
The Rams defense had Seattle so stifled on Sunday, the score was 40-0 before the Seahawks finally scored. And then once the home team finally did score, they gave two points back by committing a desperate penalty in their own end zone, which resulted in a safety.
Special Teams: A+
LA didn’t have to ask their special teams units to do too much on Sunday, but kicker Greg Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker both had good days. And when the game was still close, it was punt returner Pharoh Cooper’s 53-yard return to Seattle’s 1-yard line that set up the first touchdown of the game.
The Rams have four losses this season, the last of which came in a tough defeat last week at home against Philadelphia. But one of the most impressive things about the Rams this year is how they’ve bounced back from those defeats, with the most impressive coming this week against archrival Seattle.
Once again, head coach Sean McVay has to be given credit for how he rallies his troops following a disappointment. And now the Rams are just a win (or Seattle loss) away from claiming their first title since moving back to the West Coast. That by itself, deserves A’s all around.