LOS ANGELES – So much for Ezekiel Elliott running roughshod over the Rams.
L.A. had two running backs to run over Dallas. Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson both rushed for more than 100 yards, while the Rams defense bottled up the Cowboys’ star running back en route to a 30-22 victory on Saturday night that sends them to the NFC title game.
Gurley rushed for 115 yards, including a splendid, 35-yard TD jaunt. Anderson ran for 123 yards with two TDs.
Elliott? He finished with 47 yards on 20 carries.
The Rams will meet the winner of Sunday’s Saints-Eagles divisional matchup in the NFC Championship Game, marking the first time the franchise has reached that stage since the 2001 season.
Dallas laments another failed opportunity to reach its first NFC title game since the 1995 season, having lost six times in the divisional round since the franchise’s Super Bowl XXX crown.
Three things we learned:
1. The Rams now have a potent 1-2 running back punch of their own
Just because Gurley returned (and with a bang) after missing two games while nursing an injured knee doesn’t mean Sean McVay was ready to put Anderson in mothballs. Instead, he opted for a 1-2 tandem that helped keep Gurley fresh and continued to take advantage of what Anderson brought to the table. Anderson joined the Rams in Week 16 as an emergency sub and then put up back-to-back 100-yard games. And like that, the Rams had another layer to an already dangerous juggernaut.
2. Home-field “advantage” doesn’t really matter if you’re not home
As expected, Cowboys fans came out in droves to the Coliseum. Judging from the jerseys, more than half the crowd supported Dallas. And as expected, they were rather loud as those boisterous fans of “America’s Team” tend to be. But it didn’t help their cause. The Cowboys were 8-1 at AT&T Stadium this season, but despite the noise, LA wasn’t exactly “Dallas West” because the Rams weren’t exactly visitors in their own home as they seized control of the tempo and game in the first half, forcing the Cowboys to play catch-up – which is not an ideal scenario at “home” or “away.”
3. You can’t bank on the Cowboys in a divisional matchup
Dallas hasn’t been to an NFC title game since January 1996 and are is 0-for-6 in divisional matchups since that point. Add the Saturday night setback to a litany of disappointments that include getting stung by a last-minute dagger from Aaron Rodgers, a loss at Green Bay when an apparent Dez Bryant TD was reversed, an upset against the Giants on their own turf that squandered a No. 1 seed. And so on. Better luck next. But as it stands now, the divisional playoffs is still Dallas’ glass ceiling.
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News