Yes, the Dallas Cowboys missed linebacker Sean Lee on Sunday.
But, as far as defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is concerned, that’s no excuse for the way the Los Angeles Rams gashed them in a 35-30 victory.
In particular, Rams running back Todd Gurley proved to be a weapon the Cowboys couldn’t contain. Gurley had a career day with 121 rushing yards and 94 receiving yards. The 215 yards from scrimmage were the most in his young career to date.
“Hell of a player,” Marinelli said. “We knew that going into it. We knew this guy is a terrific back and we’ve got to play our gaps. We got knocked out of gaps. Give them credit.
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“And we’ve got to tackle. We didn’t tackle well.”
Gurley showcased his elusiveness all afternoon. Gurley had 23 carries and seven catches on the day, and eight of his touches went for double-digit yards.
The highlight came in the third quarter on a 53-yard touchdown reception from Jared Goff. Gurley got past Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson and made a move that left safety Jeff Heath on the ground and him running free to the end zone.
Rams first-year coach Sean McVay has made it a point to utilize Gurley more in the passing game.
“It takes a lot of stress off everybody – Goff, me, the receivers,” Gurley said. “We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things. Tavon [Austin], he is a mini-running back now, I guess I am a mini-receiver.
“Just to be able to have that diversity in our offense and being able to do pass, run, pass, run. That means a lot for us.”
The production showed up against a Cowboys defense that had been the top-ranked running D a year ago.
Gurley became the first Rams player with 200-plus yards from scrimmage since Dec. 12, 2008 when Steven Jackson had 215 yards from scrimmage against Atlanta.
The last player with 200-plus yards from scrimmage against the Cowboys happened to be current running back Alfred Morris. Morris, playing for the Redskins on Dec. 30, 2012, had 212 yards from scrimmage (200 rushing, 12 receiving).
“Gurley’s a pretty good back and I feel like we could have done a much better job of hitting our gaps,” defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said. “When they were doing no huddle, our assignments, sometimes we got away from our assignments.
“Those big plays, we can’t let those happen.”