In a 30-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Gurley rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, though he lost a fumble in the red zone. He also caught three passes for 6 yards.
“We wanted to get him going,” Rams coach Sean McVay said after the game. “He got some tough, hard-earned yards against a good defensive front. … That opened up some things in the passing game.”
Said quarterback Jared Goff: “It was great. It affected us positively. He did a great job. Ran the ball well.”
Gurley’s 18 touches fell short of a season high for the fifth-year pro, who had 19 touches in a Week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints. His 15 carries also fell one carry short of his season high of 16, also established against the Saints.
However, Gurley’s two touchdowns marked his 15th career game with multiple rushing touchdowns, the most in Rams history passing Eric Dickerson.
“I guess that’s cool,” Gurley said. “But it’s still a loss, so it don’t really matter.”
The performance by Gurley, and Sean McVay’s decision to establish him early, came just days after Gurley expressed contempt for Thursday games, calling them, “the dumbest thing ever.”
It also followed months of questions and scrutiny — dating back to last season’s playoffs — about the health of his left knee and his decline in usage.
Backup Malcolm Brown, who had assumed a larger role in spelling Gurley through four games, rushed for 3 yards on one carry.
Gurley rushed for 9 yards on the Rams’ opening play, but he was dropped for a 5-yard loss on his ensuing carry. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Gurley had two rushes on the opening drive of the first four games combined this season.
Gurley rushed for 31 yards on six carries through two possessions. Last Sunday, he rushed for 16 yards on five carries throughout the entire game, and going into Thursday’s game, Gurley had a combined 35 scrimmage yards in the first quarter for the Rams this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“We lost the game, so it doesn’t really matter what happened in the first quarter,” Gurley said.
However, receiver Cooper Kupp said establishing Gurley helped the offense establish a rhythm.
“You see it in our play-action game,” Kupp said. “It gets that working, and it helps us to not be one dimensional.”
In the second quarter, at the Seahawks’ 20-yard line, Gurley rushed for 3 yards but was stripped by Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who also recovered the ball. The turnover was Gurley’s fifth-career lost fumble as a rusher.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Gurley capped a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive with an 8-yard run into the end zone. At the end of the quarter, he rushed for a 1-yard score to give them a 26-21 lead.
But Gurley did not touch the ball in the Rams’ final two possessions of the game, trailing by one point.
“It was just kind of the feel that we were in the two-minute mode,” McVay said. “That’s certainly something that I think you go back and look at and you might say maybe we’d do it differently. But at the time, that’s what kind of was with my gut.”