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On the field and elsewhere, Rams' Todd Gurley is having a 'good year'

On the field and elsewhere, Rams' Todd Gurley is having a 'good year'
Running back Todd Gurley runs past safety Budda Baker of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half. (Norm Hall / Getty Images)

It's a good time to be Rams running back Todd Gurley.

Gurley's former high school team, Tarboro High, will play for a state championship in North Carolina.

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His college team, Georgia, won the Southeastern Conference Championship and will play in the College Football Playoff.

And Sunday, the Rams secured their first winning season since 2003 after defeating the Arizona Cardinals 32-16 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"Man!" Gurley said after the game, "It's looking like a good year right now."

Gurley rushed for 74 yards in 19 carries and caught six passes for 84 yards.

"As many ways as we can get the ball in his hands, good things have happened," coach Sean McVay said.

On one series near the end of the first half, Gurley touched the ball as a running back or receiver on six consecutive plays as the Rams drove toward the goal line.

The drive culminated with a field goal.

Gurley was especially effective on screen passes.

"First of all, Todd is really good," quarterback Jared Goff said. "He's good at catching and filling lanes, and I think, more important than that, we've got a really athletic offensive line."

High on Hekker

Punter Johnny Hekker's 70-yard kick in the third quarter helped the Rams stave off a comeback by the Cardinals.

With the Rams pinned deep in their territory, Hekker boomed a kick that forced the Cardinals to start a drive at the 21-yard line.

The Cardinals were forced to punt, and Pharoh Cooper's 30-yard return set the Rams up for a touchdown drive that culminated with Goff's touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins.

McVay said Hekker "flips the field" with long punts.

"To be able to make that play that he did, to be able to kind of pin them deep in their own territory is why you certainly don't take a great player like Johnny Hekker for granted," McVay said.

Tight ends in action

Rookie tight end Gerald Everett caught a one-yard pass for a first-quarter touchdown to give the Rams a 9-0 lead.

It was Everett’s second touchdown reception of the season. He also caught a touchdown pass in a Week 6 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Everett finished with two catches for seven yards.

Tight end Derek Carrier caught one pass for 16 yards, and Tyler Higbee caught one for six.

Block party

Special teams units blocked two kicks.

With the Rams leading 16-13 in the second quarter, Tyrunn Walker blocked an extra-point attempt.

In the fourth quarter, with the Rams leading 26-16, Michael Brockers blocked a field-goal attempt. Cory Littleton recovered the ball and returned it 18 yards to the Rams' 41-yard line.

The Rams converted the takeaway into a field goal to lead 29-16. Brockers credited special teams coordinator John Fassel.

"Just really coach, coaching us up, 'Get some penetration, get your hands up, get some knockback on the snapper,' " Brockers said. "And pretty much that's what we did on the two that we got."

Goff picked off

Goff had a pass intercepted for the second consecutive game, the first time that has happened this season.

Cardinals linebacker Kareem Martin picked off a pass intended for Gurley in the second quarter and returned it to Arizona's 40-yard line.

Goff has passed for 20 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Mr. Automatic

Greg Zuerlein made all four of his field-goal attempts, from 56, 20, 24 and 41 yards.

Zuerlein has made 36 of 38 field-goal attempts. He has scored 143 points to move into third place on the Rams' single-season scoring list behind Jeff Wilkins (163 points) and running back Marshall Faulk (160).

Zuerlein is three field goals from tying the Rams' season record of 39. He missed an extra point attempt in the first quarter, his first miss in 34 tries.

Zuerlein has missed four extra points in his six-year career. He was 176 of 179 before Sunday.

Etc.

Receiver Robert Woods, running backs Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis and linebacker Connor Barwin were inactive.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

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