Alden Gonzalez, ESPN Staff Writer 362d

Revitalized Todd Gurley scores 3 TDs, reaches triple digits on the ground

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Twenty games. Todd Gurley, the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year only two seasons ago, somehow went 20 consecutive games without reaching triple-digit yards on the ground.

That streak finally ended Thursday.

Gurley, who rushed for at least 128 yards five times as a rookie, eclipsed 100 yards for the first time since that 2015 season in a thrilling, 41-39 win over the San Francisco 49ers from Levi's Stadium. The Los Angeles Rams' star running back gained 113 yards on 28 carries and added another five catches for 36 yards. Gurley scored three touchdowns in the first half, giving him six through the first 10 quarters of the 2017 season -- after scoring six touchdowns in 64 quarters in 2016.

"I gave everybody what they've been waiting for," Gurley said of finally reaching 100 rushing yards, drawing a laugh. "It feels good, but the ultimate goal is to win. That [100 rushing yards] is a big goal, as well. It's been a while. We'll take that. Offensive line did a great job."

He sighed.

"I'm just happy right now."

He should be. After a sluggish 2016 season in which he gained only 885 yards on 278 carries, Gurley -- and Jared Goff, who had the best game of his NFL career in front of a national TV audience -- is now in a scheme that should get the most out of him. Gurley struggled in the opener, gaining only 40 yards on 19 carries against the short-handed Colts. But in his past two games, against the Redskins and 49ers, Gurley has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 10.5 yards per reception. He has gained 201 yards on the ground and another 84 through the air, with five touchdowns in the two games.

Asked if he might finally get some respect as a receiver, Gurley smiled and said, "It’s coming soon now. They definitely know."

Gurley had a 3-yard touchdown run 12 seconds into the game, immediately after Nickell Robey-Coleman's interception. On his second score, Gurley took a pass out on the flat, got some help on a pick by tight end Tyler Higbee and ran to the outside for a 7-yard touchdown with more than four minutes remaining in the first quarter. He then had a 2-yard touchdown run less than a minute before halftime, racing to the outside after finding the middle clogged.

Gurley rushed for 70 yards after contact Thursday and gained 108 yards on 24 tries between the tackles, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the fourth quarter, he averaged 6.9 yards per rush to help close out the game. He hit triple digits on his last carry, a third-and-10 run in which Gurley exploded to the left and picked up 20 yards, allowing the Rams to get in victory formation on the next play.

He became the first player since the Lions' Calvin Johnson in 2011 to register six touchdowns in his first three games, and he had his best game against a defense that shut down the Seattle Seahawks four days earlier.

After a nightmare 2016, it's time to believe in Gurley again.

"You have your ups and downs," Gurley said, talking about him and Goff. "That's why you go through stuff like that, to feel how we're feeling right now -- to be able to see what we were and see what we are right now. It's definitely a blessing."

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