The Los Angeles Rams were fresh off one of their most decisive, complete victories of this young season. They had shut out an opponent for the first time in nearly 35 months, had started a season 5-2 for the first time in 14 years -- but Sean McVay didn't want to hear anything about what it all meant.
"We haven't arrived by any stretch," McVay, the Rams' rookie head coach, declared from London after a 33-0 dismantling of the division-rival Arizona Cardinals. "5-2 is a good feeling, but that's all it is right now."
As fleeting as these feelings might be, the Rams head into their bye week in first place in the NFC West, with the look of a team that already appears to be a legitimate contender and might still be getting better.
In Sunday's Week 7 win at Twickenham Stadium, the Rams held the ball for 39 of 60 minutes, converted 28 first downs and outgained the Cardinals by 232 yards.
Lamarcus Joyner and Mark Barron each intercepted passes, giving the defense nine for the season -- one shy of their interception total from all of last year. Aaron Donald, Ethan Westbrooks and Matt Longacre all had sacks, and Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins all caught for more than 40 yards. So did Todd Gurley, who added 106 rushing yards, including an 18-yard touchdown run, to reach triple digits on the ground for the fourth time in five weeks.
Jared Goff, light years ahead of where he was as a rookie, threw for a touchdown, ran for another and completed 22 of his 37 passes, with only one of those throws resulting in an interception.
The Rams have been held back by their offense for about a decade and have finished last in the NFL in yards each of the past two seasons. But they have scored 212 points in seven games this season -- only 12 fewer than what they scored in 16 games last season. Goff believes there are still "a lot of things we can clean up offensively, which is the exciting thing."
That's the point.
The Rams entered this season as the NFL's second-youngest team, behind only the Cleveland Browns. They had a new head coach -- who just so happens to be the youngest head coach in modern NFL history -- and were integrating a new defensive system under coordinator Wade Phillips. If they remain healthy, they should only grow as the season marches on.
Their defense, which has allowed only 39 points in the past 14 quarters -- after allowing 90 in the previous 10 -- is a vivid example of that.
"They're playing together," McVay said. "I think they're getting more and more comfortable with the system and the way that we want to operate. ... The thing that we're most pleased with, especially with regards to the defense, is that they have continued to improve and get better as the weeks have gone, and that's a positive sign for us going into the bye week."
The biggest key, perhaps, is the offensive line, boosted by the additions of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan. (Sullivan left Sunday's game with a knee injury, but McVay thinks he is "going to be OK"). Goff has been sacked only 10 times through the first seven games, after absorbing 26 sacks in seven games last season. Gurley, meanwhile, has already gained 374 yards before first contact in seven games, after totaling 442 yards before first contact in 16 games last season.
The Rams have beaten two good teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the road. They have two blowout victories, against the Indianapolis Colts to open their season and against the Cardinals to head into their bye week. And they would've beaten the Seattle Seahawks had it not been for five turnovers, most of which were easily avoidable.
They look like a playoff team.
"Call it whatever you want, man, we're just trying to win games every week," Goff said. "I don't think we're ever content with where we're at."
The Rams fly back home Monday morning, concluding an 11-day trip that took them from Southern California to Northern Florida to Western Europe. They covered something in the neighborhood of 12,000 airline miles. And in the days leading up to Week 7, McVay challenged his team to put together its best performance yet.
McVay called Sunday "our best game of the year" and said, "You can feel everybody's pushing in the right direction."
He conceded that it was "a great day for the Rams."
But not much beyond that.
"We have experienced a lot of things in these first seven games, but by no means have we arrived," McVay said. "There's a lot of improvement that we can continue to focus on, both as coaches and players."