Rams clinch NFC West with 30-16 win over Detroit
DETROIT — Todd Gurley ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns to help the Los Angeles Rams overcome a sputtering start to beat the Detroit Lions, 30-16, in National Football League action Sunday and clinch the NFC West title for a second straight season.
The Rams (11-1) also moved a step closer to earning home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, taking a one-game lead over New Orleans after it lost to Dallas on Thursday night. It is a cushion Los Angeles needs because its only loss was against the Saints last month.
The Lions (4-8) have lost five of six since a surge of success gave them a winning record in late October.
Detroit’s defence held Los Angeles’s high-powered offence in check for three quarters, giving the slumping team a shot to potentially pull off a stunning upset.
The Lions, though, failed to make the most of the opportunity because their offence struggled to move the ball and score.
Aaron Donald helped seal the win by forcing Matthew Stafford to fumble midway through the fourth quarter. The star defensive tackle had two strip-sacks in his last game on Nov. 19, a 54-51 win over Kansas City.
Linebacker Samson Ebukam recovered Stafford’s fumble at the Detroit 24 and Gurley scored on a 13-yard run three snaps later, giving the Rams a 23-13 lead.
Jared Goff, perhaps rusty coming off a bye week, was off the mark on many passes and lost a fumble to help keep the game close. His lacklustre performance led to Los Angeles settling for Greg Zuerlein kicking three field goals. Goff was 17 of 33 for 207 yards with a tiebreaking eight-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods late in the second quarter. Goff also threw an interception on an overthrown pass in the second quarter and lost a fumble in the third period.
The Rams were able to lean on Gurley, who has a single-season franchise record with 15 rushing touchdowns. The standout running back also caught three passes for 33 yards.
Stafford was 20 of 33 yards for 245 yards with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tackle Taylor Decker, who faked the Rams out by blocking for a moment before releasing into the flat, where he was wide open.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) pushes Lions cornerback Darius Slay during the first half Sunday in Detroit. Gurley rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns for the now 11-1 Rams.