ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Todd Gurley and the inconsistent Los Angeles Rams are close to being run out of the playoff race this season.
A year after going to their first Super Bowl since the 2001 season, and trampling all over the Cowboys in a playoff game along the way, Gurley had only 20 yards rushing on 11 carries in a 44-21 loss Sunday in Dallas that put the Rams on the brink of elimination.
“It's never ideal, but it's our situation right now,” quarterback Jared Goff said.
“Our mentality doesn't change," receiver Cooper Kupp said. “Regardless of all the different situations, all the different things that could happen — some things in our control, some things out of our control.”
With games left against NFC West foes San Francisco and Arizona, the Rams (8-6) have to win both and get some help to get to the playoffs for the third year in a row. There was a 12-season postseason drought before that.
“Had a good feeling all week, and the guys had a good look in their eye," coach Sean McVay said. “But then once the game started, you could just feel there was some momentum that they ended up creating on their own as a result of making some plays and getting some stops. And we didn't do that."
The Rams set a franchise playoff record with 273 yards on 50 carries in a 30-22 divisional win at home over Dallas last January. They had only 22 yards on 14 carries Sunday, while the Cowboys had 263 with two 100-yard rushers — Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — and scored their most points since a 44-17 win over Washington in the 2014 regular-season finale.
While Los Angeles has one more win than Dallas (7-7), the Cowboys share the NFC East lead with the Philadelphia Eagles, who they play next week.
The Rams won't win their third consecutive NFC West crown; they are three games behind division co-leaders San Francisco and Seattle. They are also two games behind Minnesota for the NFC's last wild-card spot.
“We've just got to finish these last two games off, and see what happens from there,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “It's the National Football League. When you don't play good football you lose, and we didn't play good football.”
The Cowboys had a 28-7 lead at halftime after scoring two touchdowns in the final 2 minutes. Veteran linebacker Sean Lee's interception and 25-yard return, and a Rams penalty on third-and-and-goal from the 7, set up Elliott's 3-yard TD run.
When Gurley had a strong stiff-arm to get into the end zone for the last Rams touchdown in their win over Seattle a week ago, it appeared they were ready for a stretch run. Instead, they got to Dallas and had another bad loss — much like the 45-6 setback to Baltimore on Nov. 25 before winning their last two games.
“Wasn't good from start to finish,” Goff said.
“Every single week represents a new week, and I think if there is any team that really can feel that, it certainly is us,” McVay said. “Especially even just looking at the last four weeks, how different two games have been compared to the other two.”