Los Angeles Rams | Whicker: Give it to Todd Gurley, and the mysteries of NFL life fade away

Los Angeles Rams | 	 				 			Whicker: Give it to Todd Gurley, and the mysteries of NFL life fade away
Video todd gurley tapped out

LOS ANGELES — Sixteen games in 17 weeks are like dog years. They’re so much longer than they appear. Only the historically bad and good teams, the 0-16 Lions and the 16-0 Patriots, maintain the same identity each week. The others have their good and bad days, endure their circadian rhythms like all of us.

The Rams are like that. Two games ago they were Hyde-ing from the Baltimore Ravens. On Sunday night they Jekylled all over the Seattle Seahawks.

This 28-12 win moved the Rams to 8-5 with Dallas next, as they try to jump the line into an NFC playoff appearance for the third consecutive season.

The postgame theme was that the Rams had regained their identity in these two victorious weeks (34-7 at Arizona last week) but that’s hard to carry from weekend-to-weekend.

But the Rams are easier to anticipate than most teams. The more times Jared Goff turns and put a football into the midsection of Todd Gurley, the more times they can be their best selves.

Gurley got that privilege 23 times here. When he has carried 15 or more times, these Rams are 5-1. When he did that in the first eight games of 2018, they were 8-0. In 2017, Gurley was tapped 15 or more times on 12 occasions, and the Rams were 10-2.

The first offensive play foretold everything. Gurley got six yards on first down. In the first half, when the Rams scored 21 points, they got 6.6 yards per first down play. The Rams went 75 yards in eight plays and led, 7-0. The next TD drives were 85 and 72 yards.

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It took the sentimentality out of Pete Carroll’s final game (presumably) in the L.A. Coliseum, 18 years after he coached USC to a 21-10 opening win over San Jose State, and then lost at home to Kansas State and Stanford.

“Todd’s a bad man,” Goff said. “That’s what I told him after the game. He’s a bad dude.”

Gurley scored the final touchdown, flashing around the left side and felling Tre Flowers with a stiff-arm. That 95-yard drive featured the fly sweep, which had been a mere decoration in several games.

.@TG3II stiff-arms his way into the end zone! #LARams

📺: #SEAvsLAR on NBC📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports appWatch free on mobile: https://t.co/jQ30PKCS7y pic.twitter.com/2b8WhVph5l

— NFL (@NFL) December 9, 2019

You remember. On nearly every play, either Robert Woods or Josh Reynolds would go into motion behind Goff and pretend to take the ball around the other side.

This time they actually got it, and Woods went 20 yards behind tackle Andrew Whitworth, who actually pranced back to the huddle.

Anything that excites a 14-year tackle on a football field is worth repeating. Sean McVay followed it up with another one, and Woods went seven yards, and then Gurley put a ribbon on it.

“I’ve had one of a hell of a gauntlet to start December,” Whitworth said. “I had Chandler Jones (Arizona), and Nick Bosa (San Francisco) and tonight it was (Jadaveon) Clowney and then (Robert) Quinn (of Dallas). So this was like a Christmas gift for a left tackle.

“Anytime you can start to work the perimeter and run inside on guys, you start to stretch the defense out so they’re not sure what to play. They have to figure out what to stop. It’s the kind of efficiency we’re starting to get back. It’s the beauty of football, man. Once you see something you have to keep attacking it.”

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This was the first paragraph of McVay’s plan, from the way he used tight ends Tyler Higbee and Johnny Mundt, to the way Malcolm Brown came in for Gurley and made a one-step adjustment to pick up the pass rush and allow Goff to find Higbee for 33 yards, to the staccato pace that Goff used to get the Seahawks jumping.

“We didn’t get our calls in quickly enough,” Carroll said. “They did a nice job, and we prepared for it and all, but we just didn’t get settled in. Those first two drives by them were really well-executed.”

When he needed a third-down conversion in the second quarter, he went to no-huddle and found Cooper Kupp for a three-yard conversion.

“We did some two-tight-end stuff at the end of last year and in the playoffs, and it helped us mix in all the rest of the stuff,” Whitworth said. “It lets us lean on the defense a little bit.”

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Obviously the Rams leaned on their own defense, too. Since the Raven infestation, the Rams have given up one offensive touchdown, and that was basically a concession, with a 34-point lead at Arizona.

Russell Wilson got loose for only one run and was held to a 69.8 pass rating, his second lowest of 2019.

“We’ve had kind of a loose focus lately,” Kupp said. “We’re focused, but we’re not putting pressure on ourselves. It’s more about going out there and having fun.”

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Will the fun extend into January? It still seems like a bridge too far.

But maybe the Vikings, the team the Rams need to pass, will wake up on the wrong side of a Sunday bed. They’re all week-to-week, just like we would be, if our bad weeks were televised.