Lack of touches for Gurley in NFC title game left some confused

Rams Football-1

Los Angeles Rams' Aqib Talib, left, and Todd Gurley stretch during practice at their NFL football training facility Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Thousand Oaks, Calif.


Sports Writer

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, 26-23 in overtime, to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

As Tarboro football’s Twitter account pointed out after the result, Rams running back Todd Gurley will be the second Viking to play on the NFL’s biggest stage, with Kelvin Bryant being the first. (Bryant did for the Washington Redskins in 1987; he had 58 total yards in a 42-10 win over Denver.)

On Sunday, after the game, with his team one win away from a championship, a teary-eyed Gurley gave a passionate interview to ESPN.

“I love this game so much,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming of this all my life, for us to be in this position to make it to the Super Bowl — oh man — it’s such a great feeling.”

The display of emotion was another example of Gurley’s authenticity, which he’s shown on and off the field this season, especially because the Tarboro native saw the field on Sunday much less than he is normally accustomed to.

In the same interview, he was asked about that.

“I didn’t play good, I didn’t deserve to be in there,” he said. “C.J. (Anderson) was in there. He did his thing, everybody held me down.”

Gurley, an MVP candidate and one of the best players in the league, who led the NFL during the regular season in touchdowns, rushed for a second-quarter score but was only on the field for 32 snaps compared to 36 for Anderson, leaving some to question if Gurley had sustained an injury or aggravated an old one. Overall, he had four rushes and five touches.

The running back denied being hobbled, and so did coach Sean McVay, who said the decision to lean more toward Anderson in the second half “was a flow for the game” issue.

Gurley did miss the final two weeks of the regular season with knee inflammation, and carried the ball 16 times compared to 23 for Anderson in the Rams’ win over the Cowboys in the previous round.

McVay expanded on the situation to reporters after the win over the Saints.

“What personifies Todd is this is an MVP caliber player and he kept fighting, he kept supporting his teammates, he’s going to have an instrumental role in your game against whoever we play, whether it be the Patriots or the Chiefs. Today, that was just a feel for the flow of the game we had, not anything against Todd,” McVay said.

While Anderson has fresher legs than Gurley — he had only 67 rushes in the regular season split between two teams — those hoping for a more specific answer might be out of luck, though McVay reiterated that Gurley would be a big part of the Super Bowl game plan.  

Either way, despite the unusually light workload for Gurley, he was visibly moved by the chance to play in the Super Bowl, and also showed off his sense of humor after the game, posting an obviously photoshopped picture of he and a referee exchanging jerseys.

The post appeared to be a reference to an obvious missed pass interference call late in the game that went in favor of the Rams’ defense.