EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Days before his Los Angeles Rams would play a road game against the New York Giants, Todd Gurley told Sean McVay about how he wished the bye week could come a little bit later. The Rams were playing so well, coming off a 33-point triumph from London, and some of the players were uneasy about whether the offense could pick up where it left off after such an extended break.
Break or no break, flight or no flight, sun or no sun, the Rams continue to hum along.
On Sunday, in the middle of their third long trip in a four-week stretch, they made the atmosphere at MetLife Stadium seem grayer than the sky that hovered above it. The Rams demoralized the reeling Giants 51-17, improving to 6-2, their best start since a 2001 season that ended in a Super Bowl appearance. It's the eighth game of the season, and the 2017 Rams have already outscored the 2016 Rams.
Yeah, that's right.
"Crazy," Gurley said. "For sure."
It happened, actually, in the second quarter. A couple of penalties had the Rams facing third-and-33 from their own 48-yard line. They set up a screen with Robert Woods, playing it safe while hoping to get in field goal range. But Woods exploded to the middle of the field, found a hole and outran the Giants' secondary. It was the longest touchdown of his career and his first one with the Rams. It gave them 229 points, five more than their NFL-low total from all of last season.
"That was a good first one," said Woods, who later scored on a four-yard pass to complete his first two-touchdown game. "Saw a lot of grass, saw blockers, and then saw the end zone and just tried to get there. It's my first one, so I made sure I ran through the end zone, right through the line."
But the Rams weren't even close to done. After a three-and-out by the Giants that prompted boos from a scant crowd, Jared Goff dropped back and aired one out to Sammy Watkins, who easily beat Giants corner Landon Collins in one-on-one coverage. It was a 67-yard hookup, on a ball that traveled 54 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and went for the deepest completion of Goff's career. It gave the Rams 24 touchdowns, tying their total from a 2016 season that finished with a 4-12 record under Jeff Fisher.
"Honestly, I didn't know I was going to get there," Watkins said of his catch. "I literally was just running for my life. I stuck my arms out, and it just landed in my hands. Great catch and a great throw.”
In wet conditions, Goff went 14-of-22 for 311 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, with zero turnovers, despite spending most of the fourth quarter on the bench. Goff has thrown 13 touchdown passes this season, eight more than he did in one fewer game as a rookie. Gurley added 104 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns, giving him 10 on the year -- tying the career high he set in a dynamic rookie season.
Watkins, Woods, and rookies Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett all had at least 40 receiving yards. Tyler Higbee added his first touchdown of the season.
McVay felt Goff "managed the game extremely well" and made "excellent off-schedule plays."
"A lot of encouraging things," McVay said, "but Jared was the one running the show today, and he showed great command and great poise in a road atmosphere against a tough opponent."
The Rams were facing a one-win Giants team without its two best receivers (Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall), its two best offensive linemen (Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg), its defensive captain (Jonathan Casillas), one of its starting defensive ends (Olivier Vernon) and one of its top cornerbacks (Janoris Jenkins). But the Rams took care of business more decisively than they ever did last year.
They forced three turnovers -- on a strip-sack by Aaron Donald, a forced fumble by Alec Ogletree and an interception by Trumaine Johnson -- and blocked their second punt of the season. Offensively, they scored on eight of their first nine possessions. It marked the third time they have topped 40 points this season -- after totaling two 40-point games over the previous 10 seasons -- and gave them a plus-108 point margin that is now the NFL's best.
But nothing puts things in perspective better than this:
The 2016 Rams, through 16 games: 224 points.
The 2017 Rams, through eight games: 263 points.
Gurley was asked if McVay, who also calls the Rams' offensive plays, should be a Coach of the Year candidate.
"What's understood don't have to be explained," Gurley said.
"This is my first time being on a team like that, with the offense doing what they want -- literally," Johnson, in his sixth year with the Rams, added. "And it's not just one game. It's really nice to see, man. I know I'm a player, but it's just really nice to see what they're doing.”