At 6-2 and alone in first place in the NFC West, the Rams had reason to celebrate … and celebrate … and celebrate …
Higbee, a second-year tight end, joined Woods in scoring his first touchdown of the season. And after several weeks of miscommunication and strained timing between Watkins and quarterback Jared Goff, Watkins re-emerged as the deep threat the Rams envisioned when they traded for him during training camp.
Gurley said the celebrations were indicative of a team that is off to its best start since 2001.
“We’re just out there having fun,” said Gurley, who also scored on two runs.
Across the locker room, teammates joked with Woods. “So proud of Rob!” Watkins said.
Watkins and Woods combined for 26 touchdowns as teammates on the Buffalo Bills the past three seasons, but outside of a Week 3 win over the San Francisco 49ers, the pair hadn’t produced big plays together this season. That changed Sunday in their trip back east.
Woods, a fifth-year pro from USC who signed a five-year, $34-million contract in the offseason, felt relieved to finally reach the end zone. For the past few weeks, reporters had questioned him about his scoring drought.
“Good experience,” a smiling Woods said, “and a good team win.”
Woods scored on a 52-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter and a four-yard pass in the third. It was the first multi-touchdown game of his career.
The first touchdown came after the Rams committed a string of penalties and faced third and 33 at their 48-yard line. Woods caught a short pass behind the line of scrimmage, then weaved through the middle of the field untouched. Watkins supplied the final block that cleared the way to the end zone for a 17-7 lead.
“Got the ball in space, saw a lot of grass, saw blockers, and then saw the end zone,” Woods said.
Woods’ second touchdown increased the lead to 41-10. He finished with four catches for 70 yards.
“This is what he’s been wanting for the last couple of weeks,” Watkins said. “So it’s just great for everybody to get involved.”
Watkins had caught a deep pass from Goff against the 49ers in September, but had since struggled to make a similar connection.
On the series following Woods’ first touchdown, Goff faked a handoff to Gurley and dropped back. He lofted a long pass down the middle of the field to Watkins, who had the last Giants defender beaten by five yards.
Watkins hauled in the pass for a 67-yard score, then celebrated as he crossed the goal line.
“Any time that you’re able to have some success and finally say, ‘Okay there, we made that play,’ I think that’s encouraging,” coach Sean McVay said.
The reception was Watkins’ longest of the season and his first touchdown since he scored two against the 49ers.
“He ran a great route,” Goff said. “Kind of a double-move route at the top and got over the safety. I threw it and right away I thought that might be too much. I thought I got too much of it but I saw him tracking and saw the catch he made.”
Watkins said he wasn’t sure he would make the catch.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get there,” he said. “I literally was just running for my life and I stuck my arms out and it just landed in my hands.”
The reception was Watkins’ only catch of the game, but it settled some frustrations.
“We knew it eventually would happen,” Watkins said.