LOS ANGELES -- After marching to a 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams will play in the NFC Championship Game. If the Eagles clinch their divisional game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, they will travel coast-to-coast for a rematch in Los Angeles and a chance at returning to the Super Bowl.
Quarterback Jared Goff lifted his offense with 186 yards, but it was the dual attack of running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson on the ground that powered the Rams to victory. Before Saturday’s game, Dallas hadn’t allowed more than 178 rushing yards in a game. Gurley and Anderson dismantled that rush defense, combining for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Anderson’s 123 yards marked his third-straight game rushing more than 100 yards.
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“The way [Anderson’s] played the last two weeks, you know that no moment is too big for him,” head coach Sean McVay said. “He’s just got a great feel for the game. I was really just impressed with him from the jump. He does a great job putting his pads down and finishing forward.”
The Eagles beat the Rams in the Coliseum last month, holding off a fourth-quarter comeback to clinch a 30-23 win. Goff threw for 339 yards in that game, but a pair of two-play touchdown drives in the third quarter helped the Eagles hold onto their lead.
That game had Nick Foles throwing for 270 yards in his first outing as starting quarterback following Carson Wentz’s season-ending back injury. In the three games since then, Foles has thrown for 958 yards and eight touchdowns, returning to similar form from his Super Bowl performance last year.
The Rams were also a favorite to make the Super Bowl last season, but fell short in a first-round upset to the Falcons. It was a mistake the team was determined not to repeat.
“We knew what we had to do this year,” said defensive tackle Aaron Donald. “Play as a team, finish strong. We did that. It’s our game next [week], we’ve just got to get focused and get ready to go.”
Against Dallas, the Rams struggled at first to finish in the red zone, settling for a pair of field goals to open the game after getting stopped inside the Dallas 10-yard line. With Goff and Gurley faltering, Anderson shouldered the early load for the Rams, piling up 78 rushing yards in the first half.
After a sleepy first quarter, Goff warmed up quickly, ratcheting off back-to-back first-down passes to set up Anderson for a 1-yard run into the end zone to regain the lead. Gurley ripped off an explosive 35-yard touchdown dash on the following drive to take a 23-7 lead into the half.
The Cowboys found momentum to start the second half as quarterback Dak Prescott tossed a 44-yard pass to Michael Gallup, who snagged the ball and crashed to the ground just inside the 1-yard line. Ezekiel Elliott punched in the touchdown and the two-point conversion to pull the Cowboys back to within one score with the Rams leading, 23-15.
Goff responded quickly and marched his offense 65 yards down the field before stalling again. This time, however, the Rams didn’t shy away from a fourth-down attempt, and Anderson punched in his second 1-yard touchdown run to secure a 15-point lead. The Cowboys tacked on a touchdown to cut the lead to eight points again with just over two minutes left in the game, but it was too little too late.
The Rams will spend their recovery Sunday carefully watching the game in New Orleans to scope out their potential opponents in the conference championship.