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Rams Land a Devastating 1-2 Punch in the N.F.L. Playoffs

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Gurley and Anderson did their handiwork behind the best offensive line in the league, and they were both quick to credit their teammates for creating massive seams in Dallas’ defense. Gurley, for example, was asked to detail what had transpired on his 35-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

“I ran,” he said. “Those guys did a great job. All I had to do was cut one time, and just run.”

Even Goff, a talented young passer, got involved in the ground game, scrambling for an 11-yard run on third-and-7 late in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

Gurley, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee as a college junior at Georgia in 2014, missed the final two games of the Rams’ regular season with left knee inflammation. If the injury was a concern for the Rams at the time, it turned out to have been beneficial in a couple of ways.

First, Gurley had nearly a month to recuperate and recharge. Ahead of Saturday’s game, some of his teammates said they could sense that he looked fresh — and a fresh Gurley is a dangerous Gurley. (For his part, Gurley said he “would’ve been fresh” for the playoffs no matter the circumstances.)

Second, Gurley’s absence late in the regular season meant that the Rams had to add another running back to the roster. Enter Anderson.

“I guess it was a good thing I got hurt, you know?” Gurley said.

In the two games that Gurley missed, Anderson made an impression, rushing for 167 yards against the Arizona Cardinals and another 132 yards against the San Francisco 49ers, both wins. Coach Sean McVay made the transition look almost seamless.

“I think it’s a testament to the maturity of our offense that we had somebody new come in and welcomed him with open arms so that he could come in and produce the way he could produce,” the left guard Rodger Saffold III said. “But I also think it’s a credit to C. J. that he could come in and understand the offense within four days. And it’s not just any offense; it’s McVay’s offense. There are a lot of words and a lot of categories and a lot of switches, and there are long, long plays.”


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