Addition by subtraction. We knew the Rams would get better just by the fact that Jeff Fisher wasn’t their head coach this season. What we didn’t know is how much progress they’d make and how quickly they’d be able to do it.
The Rams are the highest-scoring team in the NFL, adding another 35 this week to their NFL-best average of 35 points per game. Definitely not Fisher-esque.
The 35-30 win ended an eight-game home winning streak for Dallas.
Rams defense steps up
Dallas had an eight-point lead at the half. The Rams got the ball to start the second half but went three-and-out. Their secret weapon — punter Johnny Hekker — put the ball at the Dallas 14-yard line. The Rams’ defense took over from there.
They forced Dallas to punt on every possession in the third quarter. On the next Cowboys possession, more pressure from the defensive line forced Dak Prescott to fumble the ball. Mark Barron recovered. The offense kicked the go-ahead field goal on the resulting possession.
Dallas had the chance to tie it with a two-point conversion after a defensive lapse let the Cowboys score. But the Rams stopped them after two penalties negated the first two attempts to keep it 32-30.
Their best play came at the end when they needed it most. On fourth-and-10 at the Rams 48-yard line, Prescott hit Ezekiel Elliott rolling down the field. He was instantly swarmed by blue defenders, limiting him a meaningless 9-yard gain and cutting off the comeback attempt.
Get the ball to Gurley
Todd Gurley had a slow start to the season, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry prior to this week. But he’s been a much bigger part of the passing game, averaging more than five targets per game. He did it all against the Cowboys this week.
Gurley caught seven passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, the Rams’ leading receiver on the day. He also managed to run like he did in his rookie season carrying the ball 23 times for 121 yards.
Gonna watch Gurley's TD all week pic.twitter.com/jWpWowQmRY— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) October 1, 2017
Dallas has to do something about that defense
Head coach Sean McVay called a great game, exploiting the Cowboys’ linebackers in coverage. That unit has to be missing Sean Lee. This was the second time the Cowboys defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. They didn’t do that at all last season.
Well, just because the Rams fumigated the essence of Jeff Fisher out of the building, there was still the kicking game that would’ve made ol’ Fish smile. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein booted six field goals.
Greg Zuerlein tied the Rams single-game record for field goals with his 6th of the day (Jeff Wilkins, 6 in 2006).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 1, 2017
He kicked the franchise-record seventh field goal with two minutes to play in the game, giving the Rams a five-point lead.
As impressive as that was, had the Rams scored a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal, it would’ve put the game well out of reach for Dallas.
Best in the West
The Rams are 3-1, leading the NFC West. The closest team behind them is the Seahawks at 1-2. A win over the Colts on Sunday night would bring them within a game. The Seahawks travel to Los Angeles next week to play the Rams.
Now, before we get too hyped, it’s worth pointing out that the Rams under Fisher started 3-1 last year. They proceeded to lose four in a row and finished the season 4-12.