LOS ANGELES — Todd Gurley took the pitch left and saw nothing but green grass ahead of the blue end zone at the Coliseum.
Robert Woods had sealed the edge. Josh Reynolds and Andrew Whitworth had influenced linebacker Blake Martinez. Tyler Higbee had taken out cornerback Jaire Alexander.
But rather than accelerate to a touchdown, the running back loped inside the Green Bay 5-yard line and turtled, ensuring the Los Angeles Rams could run out the clock and continue as the NFL’s lone unbeaten team for at least another week.
“We go over this stuff every week,” Gurley said. “We know what to do in what situations. That’s what makes us the team that we are — unselfish players, situational masters — that’s what it’s all about, just having that edge. It’s not all about talent.”
Gurley piled up 195 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown for the 11th straight game, tying a 67-year-old franchise record held by Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsh, in the Rams’ 29-27 win over Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.
But it was the unselfish decision on his 31st and final touch of the afternoon, turning down a touchdown to keep the ball from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, that did the most to further his NFL MVP credentials.
“We don’t want to give 12 back the ball,” Gurley said.
Following Ramik Wilson’s recovery of Ty Montgomery’s fumble on a kickoff return, setting up the Rams’ final possession, head coach Sean McVay had quarterback Jared Goff remind the offense “We don’t want to score.”
Goff doubted Gurley needed the reminder.
“I saw when he kind of slowed down, he knew what he was doing,” Goff said. “He’s a smart player, a lot smarter than I think he wants people to think.”
The decision might have irked those that rostered No. 30 in fantasy football or, for one reason or another, were hoping for a Rams victory margin of greater than two points.
“Forget fantasy and forget betters,” Gurley said, “we got the win so that’s all that matters.”
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The Rams are now 8-0 for the first time since 1969, when quarterback Roman Gabriel enjoyed his NFL MVP season.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes might be the favorite to win the league’s top individual honor this season, according to Bovada. But Gurley has risen in recent weeks, joining New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees as the second favorite this week.
“He’s, in my opinion, the best back in the league and I’m very lucky to have him,” Goff said. “He did get better today as the game went on and good backs do that.”
Considering his 2,093-yard, 19-touchdown season a year ago wasn’t enough to keep Tom Brady from being voted NFL MVP — Gurley settled for the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award — Gurley understands the situation.
“I’m not worried about that,” Gurley said. “You know they like to give it to quarterbacks. We’re just going to keep doing our thing, keep getting these wins and everything else is going to take care of itself.”
Gurley’s MVP chances might be affected by a star-studded Rams roster, which might just split its vote between Goff, Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, whose two sacks on Sunday were the first of his career of Rodgers.
“You know guys are going to make plays,” Gurley said. “That’s why we are the team that we are. That’s why we have the players that we have. Big-time guys who make big-time plays in big situations. That’s what we were able to do today to finish the game and get this win.”
But there was no question who was King of the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, when Gurley brought the fans to their feet even after the game.
A skipping Gurley took a victory lap after the game to revel in the win with Rams fans, only stopping to jokingly pose for the traveling horde of green-clad Packers fans who packed the old stadium to the last row.
“It was fun,” Gurley said. “They were super loud. The energy was there. Everything was great and we had a good time.”
Follow the Ventura County Star’s Joe Curley on Twitter @vcsjoecurley.
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