The Gurley Mystery Hangs Over Rams’ Super Bowl Futility

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Todd Gurley Super Bowl LIII

Patrick Chung (23) and defensive back Jonathan Jones (31) close in on Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) during the second half in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With only 16 points put up, Super Bowl LIII wasn’t much of a game to watch. Nor was the game as close as the score might suggest.

The Patriots, in outgaining the Rams 407 yards to 260, dominated nearly every statistical category. The big difference, though, was in the ground game comparisons: the Pats ran 32 times for 154 yards, while the Rams gained only 62 yards in 18 plays.

Going into the postseason, some thought Todd Gurley should be voted the league’s MVP. Over 16 games, he had the third most rushing yards (1,251), the second most first downs (70), the most touchdowns (17), a 4.9 yards per carry average, and almost 90 rushing yards per game.

The Pats held Gurley to 35 yards in ten carries; he only had one decent run, for 16 yards, and he lost a yard on his one catch.

Gurley’s numbers were fine in the divisional playoff game, but against the Saints two weeks ago he had only four carries for ten yards. Coach McVay assumed the blame for going too much with C.J. Anderson, but he obviously was trying to mask an injury to his prized back. The two week break didn’t bring any improvement.

Though Gurley had no apparent limp, he’s likely dealing with a bad knee. Following his first game of the season, Gurley was listed as having strained his left knee – the “inflammation” persisted throughout most of the season.

Though Gurley rushed for 115 yards in only 16 tries against the Cowboys on January 12, it’s likely he exacerbated the condition in this game. On the Rams crucial final 12-play touchdown drive, Gurley had but one carry for a yard, while C.J. Anderson had five carries, and the wide receivers contributed two more rushes. Anderson had been unemployed, and didn’t even join the team, until mid-December.

The Rams have relied upon a balanced ground and passing attack all year. But not on Sunday.

Without production from Gurley, QB Jared Goff was a bone to be chewed by the playoff-savvy New England defense. Goff was sacked four times, and he was constantly pressured. Led by three hits each by Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy, Goff suffered 12 QB hits in the game. Brady was only sacked once, and only hit three other times. Once again, the sacks and hits differentials were greatly in favor of the winning team.

Goff was certainly the iffiest of the four quarterbacks in the conference finals. Whenever Goff has to work in a compressed pocket, it’s a problem. This weak link completely broke without the support and cover provided by the Rams’ customarily strong run game.

This in turn resulted in a piss-poor spectacle for viewers.

Even after the disappointing game, Gurley insisted that his knee was fine. He’s a guy who tows the line that injuries are no excuse. I suspect, however, that the truth will emerge in the coming days.

About The Author

The old trial attorney never lost a case – he misplaced a few, but those files were found eventually. His arguments are water-tight, his logic unassailable, and his verdicts non-appealable. Resistance is futile.

18 Comments on "The Gurley Mystery Hangs Over Rams’ Super Bowl Futility"

  1. Cheese

    The Rams only scored three points yesterday, and since LeFleur’s trajectory as a coach is 100% tied to the Rams offensive production despite not coaching there for over a year, it looks like we have a dud on our hands. Get rid of him and promote Russ Ball to head coach. It’s our only hope.

    • PF4L

      Lol Yes Sir….

      Take a lesson Packer Nation, this post above is the exact mindset of how to deal with the current low times of being a Packer fan.

      The time for disgust and anger has passed us by. The damage has been done and we’ve learned no matter how smart we are, no matter if we had the foresight to predict the current state of this team. At some point, it becomes painfully clear we are powerless no matter how loud we scream. That point came for me awhile back.

      This is the time we wait it out, we bide our time as fans. Humor, especially sarcastic humor is the best way to deal with this team (at least for me) for the foreseeable future. I learned…..there is no value in getting all stressed out, it will not speed up the recovery time of this team.

      Not only is Cheese one of the most informed Packer fans, he sets a great example here.

  2. Kato

    If this were the packers, the fans would be screaming bloody murder. Fans here already complain about Aaron Jones usage. Now you have Gurley with only 11 touches in the biggest game. And a supposed offensive genius calling the plays

    • Cheese

      McCarthy’s offense may have never failed to score a TD in a postseason game, but they failed to score anything halfway through the 3rd quarter against Atlanta as the score was 31-0. That was WITH Rodgers. Last year the Packers got blanked at home TWICE. You can’t blame that on not having Rodgers. You blame that on not knowing how to run a damn offense, or not preparing your back up QB to be worth half a shit after three years of preparation.

  3. PF4L

    Super Bowl thoughts and observations……

    The leagues 21st ranked defense stymied the leagues potent 2nd ranked offense. Despite the Patriots losing their defensive play caller. (it should be noted that the Pats defense is rated 6th in scoring defense). Showing that scoring defense easily trumps overall defense rankings.

    It seems like the big stage was too much for McVay and Goff. Out played and out coached.

    Anyone who watched this game knows that coaching matters,

    This wasn’t the most exciting game, but because it was close through 3 quarters, it was still a good game for the purist.

    For those anti Patriot fans, those calling the Pats cheaters, etc. There comes a time that you just have to shut your mouth and acknowledge and show respect for the Patriots organization. That time has come and gone.

    Speaking of the Patriots organization. It has long been my belief that Super Bowl teams have to have a commitment, from top to bottom to succeed. The Patriots epitomize that.

    Mr. Clutch..(Hint)…MVP

    Lastly..Anyone see the on field post game interviews? They had the McCourty brothers on set. Then their very proud Mom came out and stood between them. So then Deion Sanders got up, and gave Mrs. McCourty his seat. I just thought that was top shelf that was worth mentioning.

  4. Howard

    Yes coaching does matter.

    Not sure how many noticed, but the Patriots D on first and second down unless in situational plays would have four of their big D-lineman put their hand on the ground and run a 4-3 Defensive front. Everyone thinks of the Patriots as a 3-4 front. Against the Chiefs the Patriots had a 3-4 look . Against the Chargers the Patriots started out with a 4-3 look, but after getting ahead two TDs went 3-4.

    The Patriots wanted to contain Mahomes from breaking out of the pocket and making big plays, run and pass with his feet. Against the Chargers, and Rams they did not want to allow the run game to get going benefiting the play action pass game. In addition Rivers and Goff are not the most mobile and pressure up the middle bothers both. Not sure about Rivers and his O-line but as I’ve wrote before the Rams O-line has been shaky in pass protection as the season has progressed. Goff gets erratic when under pressure and will make mistakes.

    By the way did Goff get his hand or arm injured in the post season or this game. Goffs passes sure came out of his hand with a distinct wobble.

  5. stiggy

    I was hoping the pack would have gone after a defensive mind. 3 of the final 4 teams had great defenses. Once again.. defense won the championship. The Rams D kept it from being a blow out.

      • Howard

        The final point totals is what matters. When you look at points allowed per play the final four ranked Rams 24th, NO 15th, KC 18th, and NE 5th in defense.

        The top 4 defenses in points allowed per play were bears 1st, Ravens 2nd, Titans 3rd, and Texans 4th.

        The Vikings were 10th and the Jags were 6th in points allowed per play. The reasons the Jags and Vikings did not make the playoffs is the jags offense was 32nd in points made per play and the Vikings were 18th. Well the jags had many more problems than just offense, but you get the idea.

  6. Hinder

    The Patriots defense seemed to know exactly what the Rams were going to run in every play. Their DBs and LBs would run to the exact spot the ball was going. Great coaching? Or maybe Belicheat was spying on Rams practices and stealing signals again.

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