Los Angeles Rams | Todd Gurley and defense lead Rams to blowout of Seattle and brink of NFC West title

Los Angeles Rams | 	 				 			Todd Gurley and defense lead Rams to blowout of Seattle and brink of NFC West title
Video todd gurley vs seattle 2017

SEATTLE — There had been some awkward smiles and waves from the driveway over the past 23 months, but on Sunday, Todd Gurley knocked on the door and introduced himself to his neighbors.

Southern California, meet Gurley, your newest star and perhaps your next Most Valuable Player.

It’s folly to refer to Gurley’s effort Sunday as a breakout, because he’s been doing it all season, but in a game that meant everything, Gurley was magnificent and put the Rams on the cusp of their first division title since 2003 with a crushing 42-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

Gurley rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, including a 57-yard, game-breaking touchdown late in the first half, and also caught a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

“In my eyes, and I might be a little biased, but I think he’s the best running back in the league, the most complete back,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. “He deserves everything coming his way.”

The Rams (10-4) took a two-game lead over Seattle in the NFC West. The Rams will win the division next week if they beat Tennessee, or if Seattle loses to Dallas. That will be another line on Gurley’s resume.

That should include, in no particular order, a Pro Bowl berth, a Comeback Player of the Year award and, at the least, strong consideration for MVP. Who has done more? There are flashier players, on teams that have won more games in recent years, but nobody come farther and meant more to his team than Gurley.

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A year ago, Gurley looked lost, buried under awful play-calling and an inefficient offensive line. For most of the season, he seemed sullen and frustrated, and never had a run longer than 24 yards.

First-year coach Sean McVay didn’t change everything, but he changed most of it. He brought in Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan to improve the line. He brought in a line coach, Aaron Kromer, with a history of success. He had this wild idea that he could throw the ball to Gurley, who would catch it and run.

Gurley looks alive again. Yes, he’s getting bigger holes and plays that capitalize on his skill set, but there’s something different about Gurley, a spark and burst in his runs that hadn’t been evident since his rookie season of 2015 in St. Louis, when he missed three games but still ran for 1,106 yards.

In the open field, Gurley is electric. He has the ability to reach a second gear but still is subtle enough in his movements to make opponents miss, just as he did late in the second half Sunday.

The Rams already had all but put the game out of reach, with a 27-0 lead, but faced a third-and-20 play at their 37-yard line with 37 seconds left in the half. Seattle actually called a timeout, with the hope that it might get the ball back and generate anything positive going into halftime. It didn’t work.

Goff handed off to Gurley, who bounced left. Guard Rodger Saffold got into the second layer of the defense and blocked Earl Thomas, and Gurley raced 57 yards for a touchdown and a 34-0 lead.

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“He pulled away and that was it,” Saffold said. “Six points, just like that.”

Gurley became only the second player in Rams history to record at least 150 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in one game. Hall of Fame back Marshall Faulk did it in 2002.

The 152 rushing yards were the second-most in Gurley’s career, and the effort came at the end of a week in which McVay faced questions about why Gurley didn’t run the ball more. In last week’s loss to Philadelphia, Gurley averaged 7.4 yards per carry but had only 13 carries. On Sunday, he had 16 first-half carries.

“Obviously Coach put a big emphasis on running the ball, and we were able to get some big runs,” Gurley said. “The linemen did a great job, and the receivers were out there blocking their tails off.”

The Seahawks had no answer for Gurley, or much of anything else. They suffered their worst losing deficit at home since Pete Carroll took over in 2010 and were dominated by the Rams in every phase.

The Rams outgained the Seahawks in yards, 352-149. They held the Seahawks to 78 rushing yards and made the afternoon miserable for quarterback Russell Wilson, who was sacked seven times. Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was dominant, and recorded three of those sacks. Seattle didn’t get on the scoreboard until late in the third quarter, after the Rams had built a 40-0 lead.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff was steady and didn’t have to be spectacular. He completed 14 of 21 attempts for 120 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and the Rams enjoyed amazing field position for most of the game because Pharoh Cooper totaled 128 punt-return yards.

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The Seahawks have been decimated by injuries on defense, but the Rams’ ability to dismantle them on offense and on special teams seemed shocking, and put the Rams, who went 4-12 a year ago, on the verge of securing a home playoff game. Afterward, they seemed satisfied but unimpressed with themselves.

“Nothing should surprise you when you expect things,” linebacker Robert Quinn said. “Even though every week may not go the way you want, you should expect to be dominant. That’s kind of what we expected. Now, did we expect a game like this? Probably not, but we expected to play a great game.”