By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley runs against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, left, and Chicago Bears defensive back Sherrick McManis meet on the field after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Rams won 17-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is pushed out of bounds at the goal line by Chicago Bears cornerback Buster Skrine during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is tackled by Chicago Bears strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey breaks up a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Todd Gurley was told by Rams coach Sean McVay before Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears that he was going to be a focal point of Los Angeles’ offense.
Gurley rose to the occasion and delivered his best game of the season.
The All-Pro running back had a season-high 133 scrimmage yards and scored a touchdown to lead the Rams to a 17-7 victory to help them keep pace in the NFC playoff race.
“We had a bunch of guys down and I was able to step up,” Gurley said. “It felt like the old Todd. I was glad I was able to go out there and take advantage of what I got.”
On a night when the Rams were missing two of their starting receivers and had a reworked offensive line, McVay reigned things in. Los Angeles (6-4) ran it on 65.4% of its plays (34 of 52). That is the highest run percentage in McVay’s three seasons as coach and only the fourth time they have gone to ground more than 60% of the time.
Gurley led the way with a season-high 25 carries. His 97 rushing yards also tied for his most this year.
“What I loved the most about what Todd did was after we put the first carry on the ground he didn't flinch,” McVay said. “He came back, had some good, tough, physical runs, made some good catches out of the backfield and he was a big-time contributor tonight.”
Jared Goff was 11 of 18 for 173 yards and an interception with many of his completions coming off play action.
The Bears (4-6) ran 22 more plays than the Rams but averaged only 3.6 yards. Mitchell Trubisky was 24 of 43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and interception. Trubisky injured his right hip on the last drive of the first half but didn’t come out until late in the fourth quarter, when Chase Daniel came in.
“I was just all arm in the second half pretty much,” Trubisky said. “Just trying to fight though the pain and trying to make the throws. I still felt like I was still putting the ball in some pretty good spots. Just couldn’t move around or couldn’t buy time.”
Gurley came in averaging 53.5 rushing yards per game, but had 63 in the first half, including three carries of 10 yards or more. After Greg Zuerlein opened the scoring with a 38-yard field goal early n the second quarter, Gurley put the Rams up 10-0 with 3:28 remaining on a 1-yard drive up the middle.
Gurley’s TD was set up when Goff connected with Cooper Kupp for a 50-yard gain. Kupp beat Buster Skrine up the left sideline and hauled in the pass at the 15 before he fumbled going out of bounds at the 1. It appeared as if Kupp might have fumbled it at the pylon, which would have been a Chicago touchback.
“When we're at our best is when we're running the ball well. There have been games when we haven't and we've overcome it and thrown it but that's not usually how we want to do it,” Goff said.
After Tarik Cohen’s third-quarter touchdown catch brought Chicago to 10-7, the Rams put it out of reach with 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter on Malcolm Brown’s 5-yard run.
Chicago got to 10-7 on its first drive of the second half when Trubisky connected with Cohen for a 12-yard score. Cohen beat linebacker Cory Littleton in single coverage to score his third touchdown of the season.
WALKING THE LINE
Goff’s 11 completions and 18 attempts were career lows when starting a game, but the game plan was effective. Chicago’s Khalil Mack was held without a tackle or sack.
A lot of credit goes to the reworked offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was the only constant with Austin Blythe moving from left guard to center. Austin Corbett, who was acquired last month from Cleveland, got his first Rams start at left guard with rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans on the right side. Edwards got his fourth start at guard and Evans his first at tackle.
“It’s a testament to those guys how much they prepared,” Whitworth said. “You put four new guys at four new spots in the NFL and you lose 50-0. These guys came out and executed. That’s what good teams do and that’s what we’ve got to do more of.”
The Bears drove inside the Rams 35 on their first three series but had nothing to show for it. Eddy Piñeiro missed 48- and 47-yard field goal attempts and Chicago turned it over on downs on the second series.
“We’ve been struggling with drives, getting going, and we finally get a couple first downs,” Nagy said. “And now it might not sound great, but we were in position to kick a field goal to start the game and we missed it. And those are the ones I really wish we could have.”
Piñeiro began the season 9 of 10 on field goals but has missed three straight and four of his last seven. Nagy said after the game that he continues to have faith in his kicker.
Rams: WR Robert Woods was listed as a surprise inactive before the game due to a personal issue. Woods is second on the team in receptions (45) and had seven catches for 61 yards in last year’s game at Chicago. Brandin Cooks (concussion) also was inactive,
Bears: RT Bobby Massie suffered a back injury during the second half. He didn’t return.
Bears: Host the New York Giants (2-8) next Sunday.
Rams: Host the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) next Monday night.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard's 'eyes should light up' at the opportunity to play with QB Tom Brady, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'You have a quarterback who throws to the tight end, go earn it and get balls thrown to you,' Arians said.
Fantasy Spin: Despite playing four more games than he did in 2018, Howard finished with fewer yards and just one touchdown last year. The drop in production wasn't a surprise given the fact that Arians' system typically isn't kind to tight ends, but the arrival of Brady could change that in a big way. Howard is definitely worth grabbing as a TE1, and there is a chance he finishes as a top-five fantasy option at the position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones could face new competition for snaps on third down next season, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'We'd love to have a pass-catching back,' Arians said.
Fantasy Spin: Jones rebounded in 2019 after a dreadful rookie campaign, tallying 1,031 yards from scrimmage and catching 31 passes. He should still handle most of the work on early downs, but if Jones isn't on the field in passing situations, it is going to limit his ceiling, especially with Tom Brady now under center. He's best viewed as a flex option for the time being.
Free-agent TE Blake Bell (Chiefs) agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal worth $1.7 million with $450,000 guaranteed, according to a source.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen had a league-high 7.2 percent of his pass attempts dropped last season.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield had a league-high 20 passes batted down at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2019.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins enjoyed a league-high average of 2.7 seconds in the pocket in 2019.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson executed a league-high 173 run-pass option (RPO) plays in 2019 - 65 more than second-place Kyler Murray (108). Jackson also ranked third in play-action pass attempts with 163.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes was hurried 54 times in 2019 - a significant drop from a league-high 121 times in 2018.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was hit while passing a league-high 66 times last season - tied with New York Giants QB Daniel Jones for the most in the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons RB Todd Gurley was charged with the dropped pass on a league-high 14.3 percent of his targets in 2019 as a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay (12.5) and Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (11.1) were the only other qualified running backs with a drop rate of higher than nine percent.
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton led all receivers with 12 broken tackles on receptions in 2019. Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, former Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp tied for second among receivers with nine.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was charged with a league-high 13 drops in 2019 - five more than he had in 2018.
New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell (1.2) averaged 1.2 yards before contact per attempt in 2019 - tied with Benny Snell for the worst mark in the league among qualified rushers last season.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette finished fifth in the league among qualified rushers in fewest yards before contact per attempt (1.4) in 2019. Meanwhile, his three yards after contact per attempt was good for the third-best mark in the league.
San Francisco 49ers RBs Raheem Mostert (3.5) and Matt Breida (3.3) ranked first and second, respectively, in the league among running backs in average yards before contact per attempt last season.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was charged with a 'bad throw' on a league-high 21.2 percent of his passes in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady was charged with 116 'bad throws' in 2019, six fewer than league leader Jameis Winston - his predecessor in Tampa Bay.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo was 'on target' - defined as a throw that would have hit the receiver - on 80.7 percent of his passes in 2019 - the fourth-highest mark in the league.