Rams, Cowboys seek long-awaited postseason breakthroughs
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As if the power of enjoying for the Los Angeles Rams’ first playoff victory in 14 years wasn’t sufficient, Todd Gurley carries an additional crucial into the Coliseum on Saturday night time.
“Basically, everybody I know hates the Cowboys,” the Rams’ All-Pro working again stated. “They’ve been hitting me up all week, so I’ve got to try to take care of business for those guys.”
And then there may be Wade Phillips, the 71-year-old Los Angeles defensive coordinator who was once fired as Dallas head trainer in 2010 and changed via his assistant, Jason Garrett. With a instantly face, Phillips calls the divisional playoff showdown “a revenge game for me.”
The Cowboys (11-6) encourage robust emotions around the soccer global, however those Rams (13-Three) are simply joking round. Their skill to take action signifies they are no longer feeling overwhelmed via the atypical weight on each groups on this matchup underneath the Hollywood highlight.
A go back and forth to the NFC championship recreation is greater than sufficient motivation for 2 franchises that have not been that with reference to a Super Bowl in a few years.
“It’s a prime-time game in the playoffs,” Gurley stated. “What better game would you want? Playoff game in LA versus America’s Team. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
Dallas has received 3 playoff video games in 22 years, and it hasn’t received a street playoff recreation since January 1993. The Cowboys have not reached the NFC identify recreation for the reason that 1995 season, shedding 5 instantly instances within the divisional spherical.
“Yeah, it would mean a lot,” Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott stated. “And more than what it means for the past, but because of this group of guys that I’m going to do it with. Just simply how we’ve been able to persevere (through) all the adversity and everything that we’ve been through together, off the field, on the field. I just know we’ve got the right guys to do it.”
The Rams have not been in a convention championship recreation for the reason that 2001-02 season, they usually best ended a 12-year playoff drought final January with a house loss to Atlanta within the wild-card spherical. Coach Sean McVay’s improbable turnaround of his franchise has impressed a wave of copycat training hires around the NFL this month, however McVay is aware of it doesn’t suggest a lot with out his first playoff victory.
The matchup additionally showcases two of the most productive younger quarterback-running again combos within the league. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are the guts of a group that has received 8 of its final 9 video games since buying and selling for receiver Amari Cooper, capped via Dallas’ gritty victory over Seattle final week within the wild-card spherical.
Jared Goff and Gurley make it occur for the Rams, who rolled to an 11-1 document with a just about unstoppable offense. Losses to the Bears and Eagles in December raised questions on their run protection and offensive line, however McVay’s group is rested and made up our minds to make a Super Bowl run .
“I think there’s a confidence that’s been earned,” McVay stated. “We have a lot of respect for the Dallas Cowboys, but we expect to win this game. We know it’s going to take a great effort, but we’re going in with the mindset and mentality that we expect to win. I think that confidence is something that’s been earned every day by our players, and then we’ve got to go out and prove it.”
Here are extra issues to look at in those NFC mainstays’ 9th playoff assembly — essentially the most in NFL historical past — however their first since January 1986 in Anaheim:
The matchup will probably be a show off for arguably the NFL’s best two working backs — so long as Gurley’s balky knee is just right. Gurley hasn’t performed since Dec. 16, however McVay has gave the impression positive he will have his offensive centerpiece at complete energy. Gurley completed 3rd within the NFL speeding race at the back of Elliott, who received his 2d identify in 3 years. Gurley hesitated to mention whether or not he will be restricted, however backup C.J. Anderson had two massive video games in his absence.
Dallas receiver Cole Beasley and tight finish Blake Jarwin did not follow all week as a result of ankle accidents. Beasley was once limping badly now and then towards Seattle. Jarwin, who had 3 landing catches within the regular-season finale towards the New York Giants, was once getting extra enjoying time as a result of a season-ending harm to Geoff Swaim. Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo returned to follow after sitting towards the Seahawks with an ankle harm. If the UCLA product is in a position to play, Dallas must make a decision between him and rookie Connor Williams at left guard.
Goff will probably be examined via Dallas’ protection, which has probably the most NFL’s best possible collections of linebackers and backs. The Pro Bowl quarterback’s manufacturing and effectiveness slipped in December when fighters an increasing number of refused to chunk on McVay’s play-action schemes, and Dallas’ protection additionally has sufficient proficient cross rushers to use power. Goff realizes he will be judged on his skill to reply to the problem. “Winning is the most important stat, and that’s no different in the playoffs,” he stated.
SOME QB HATE
Speaking of Goff, Cowboys defensive finish DeMarcus Lawrence had a bit of a laugh when requested his impressions of his fellow Pro Bowler: “He’s a quarterback. I don’t like quarterbacks.” Lawrence had his 2d instantly double-digit season in sacks with 10 ½, however he completed neatly at the back of the NFL chief, Los Angeles All-Pro Aaron Donald (20 ½).
After final January’s loss to the Falcons, the Rams strengthened their protection with 3 outstanding veterans longing for postseason luck. Defensive take on Ndamukong Suh is hoping for his first playoff victory after going Zero-Three with Detroit and Miami, whilst cornerback Marcus Peters will strive to succeed in his first convention identify recreation after shedding his final 3 playoff video games with Kansas City. Cornerback Aqib Talib received a Super Bowl ring with Denver, and he feels a identical vibe within the Rams’ locker room. “Everybody knows it, so I don’t have to tell them,” Talib stated. “If you want (your team) to be popular and get your name out there, make a couple of plays in the playoffs.”
AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this record.
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