St. Louis Rams

Gurley racks up fourth straight 100-yard game as Rams throttle 49ers

The numbers being compiled by St. Louis Rams rookie Todd Gurley are both staggering and historic, but the only ones he cares about are the wins.

The Rams moved to 4-3 overall and 3-0 against the NFC West following a 27-6 win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers that included 133 yards and a 71-yard touchdown run by the rookie running back.

Before the arrival of Gurley, no rookie running back had run for 125 or more yards in four straight starts in NFL history. He has 575 yards and three TDs on 84 carries overall, and the 566 yards in Gurley’s first four NFL starts broke the Super Bowl era record of 539 yards held by Detroit’s Billy Sims in 1980.

“It means a lot, all those things are cool,” Gurley said. “But our main focus right now is just keep winning and racking up these wins every game.”

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Even Gurley’s teammates are marveling at the things he is doing on a weekly basis. Remember, this is a running back that underwent ACL surgery last November, meaning he’s not even a year removed from a significant physical setback.

“I don’t know, man. This dude, he’s slippery, he’s sleek,” Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “I’m just glad I don’t have to tackle him or try to do anything. I’m just glad that he’s on our team and he’s making those runs.”

ANOTHER DIVISION WIN

It was the Rams’ second straight home victory and second in a row holding the opposition without a touchdown. They set season-highs for rushing yards (197) and total offense (388 yards) despite still struggling to find a rhythm in their passing game.

This dude, he’s slippery, he’s sleek. I’m just glad I don’t have to tackle him or try to do anything. I’m just glad that he’s on our team and he’s making those runs.

Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers

The 289 yards allowed by the Rams defense were a season-low.

“That’s the goal every week,” Rams safety T.J. McDonald. “We don’t want anybody to get in the end zone. We don’t want to give up any points at all, to be honest. To do what we did today I felt like all our hard work did pay off.

“We played physical, our presence was felt.”

Rams hybrid receiver/running back Tavon Austin caught a 66-yard TD pass from Nick Foles and added a 2-yard TD run. Austin had four catches for 98 yards and 119 yards of offense counting another 21 yards rushing.

575.Gurley’s yardage total through his first four NFL starts and part of another game

FLASH OF LIGHTNING

On Gurley’s 71-yard TD run with 10:25 remaining in the first half, he was provided a huge hole on blocks by linemen Garrett Reynolds and Rob Havenstein.

Gurley emerged unscathed, then kicked it into high gear and outran everyone to the end zone.

Beat that safety, coaches tell us that all the time. Get to that second and third level, make a move and take it to the house.

Rams running back Todd Gurley

“It was just a great job by the offensive linemen and the receivers, just blocking the whole way,” the modest Gurley said. “I’m just trying to play my game, keep my shoulders square and see what I see and just hit it. There’s no better feeling than going through something untouched for a touchdown.”

Once Gurley broke free, it was like a freight train headed downhill on icy tracks.

“I knew I wasn’t going to get caught on that one,” he said. “I couldn’t let that happen. No man, it’s something we practice. Those guys did a great job. Beat that safety, coaches tell us that all the time. Get to that second and third level, make a move and take it to the house.”

Even though Gurley is making this whole NFL running back thing look easy, he says it’s not.

“Nah, man, it’s definitely still hard,” he said. “Like I said it’s not me, it’s nothing I’m doing spectacular. I might break a tackle or two, it’s all to the coaches and the offensive line and the receivers. Those guys do a great job blocking on the edge.”

Rams coach Jeff Fisher knew Gurley was a special talent, which is why the team passed on all other options to choose the former Georgia star with the 10th overall pick.

“I keep bringing up that ‘S’ word, which is ‘special,’” Fisher said’ “I’ve been saying that he’s special. Again, credit him to get to this point and credit the guys around him. They bought into the run game.

“They bought into that philosophy, which you have to have. He’s obviously getting a lot of people’s attention.”

Not that Gurley doesn’t keep trying to deflect it away from himself.

“This definitely came by surprise,” he said of his immediate NFL impact. “I know with all the hard work I put in this offseason and just having the teammates I've got, I knew the sky was the limit.”

EARLY STRUGGLES

A somewhat bizarre first quarter ended with the 49ers leading the Rams 3-2.

The quarter featured a safety by Rams’ lineman Michael Brockers and linebacker James Laurinaitis, but little in the way of offense for either team.

During a 49ers punt return in the first quarter, return man Reggie Bush went out of bounds and injured his knee when he slipped on the concrete walkway outside the turf surface near the stands beyond the sidelines.

The Rams have only one touchdown in seven first quarters this season.

Things opened up a bit in the second quarter, with Gurley’s 71-yard TD run and antoher TD run by Austin.

After Greg Zuerlein and San Francisco’s Phil Dawson traded field goals, a 49-yard pass play to Cook -— including a broken tackle and many yards after the catch —set the Rams up in great position at the 49ers’ 2-yard line.

It was the Rams’ second-longest pass play this season.

The Rams’ lead grew to 20-6 after Austin took a handoff and raced around the right side, stretching his arm and the ball across the end zone before flying out of bounds.

The Rams’ defense took over from there and shut things down in the second half.

Now Fisher’s club is 3-0 in the NFC West for the first time since 2004 and above the .500 mark after seven games for the first time since 2006.

No one is printing playoff tickets, but there is a bit different feeling around this team and these players.

“They’re happy with the result with the ‘W’ and we’re 3-0 in the division, but there’s just a feeling that we could’ve played a lot better,” Laurinaitis said. “Even though we got the ‘W,’ there’s still that feeling of, ‘Man, we left a lot on the field.’ I kind of like that feeling.

“It means that just because we won, we’re not celebrating. We’re not looking to go have a party over it. It’s just like, let’s go back to work and really do the same thing again.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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