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Todd Gurley hurts knee, but Rams play on until star running back returns

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA DECEMBER 16, 2018-Rams running back Todd Gurley scores a touchdown against t
Rams running back Todd Gurley scores a touchdown against the Eagles during the first quarter Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As Todd Gurley left the game with a knee injury, the Rams did not show any uneasiness.

Rookie John Kelly jogged onto the field in his second game on the active roster, taking over the backup running back role because of Malcolm Brown’s season-ending clavicle injury.

Until then, he had participated in a few special teams plays but had never run the ball in the NFL regular season.

“It was no worries as far as anybody stepping up,” Kelly said. “They know we got some playmakers in our backfield.”

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Athough his two carries for four yards were not monumental, they were a first step.

“They let me know I did a solid job while I was out there,” Kelly said. “I mean, I made a few mistakes that I know I’ll get corrected once we go over the film tomorrow. But all the guys, they pretty much wrapped their arms around me once I got out there.”

Gurley loosened his knee on the stationary bike, paced the sideline and returned to score his second touchdown of the night as the Rams rallied but fell short to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, 30-23.

“He got banged up a little bit,” head coach Sean McVay said of Gurley, “but what a warrior he is … I love the way that he continued to fight through just the natural grinds of the game. His toughness was personified.”

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Gurley totaled 124 yards with his 10 receptions and 12 carries, including two touchdowns. Those brought his season touchdown total to 21 to lead the NFL. Saints running back Alvin Kamara is a distant second with 15.

The Rams turned to Gurley early as he ran 10 times in the first half for 49 yards. But in the second half, he ran just two more times and lost a yard. He stayed consistent with his pass catching, however, grabbing five passes for 38 yards in each half.

After the game, he showed no concern about his knee.

“I returned,” Gurley said, “so I was fine.”

Talib pick

In the fourth quarter, Nick Foles hurled the ball down field toward Zach Ertz, but Aqib Talib intercepted the throw on the Rams’ five-yard line and made a 30-yard return. It was his first interception in a Rams uniform.

Talib was acquired by the Rams in the offseason and missed eight games when he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Chargers on Sept. 23. Sunday marked Talib’s third game back since his injury.

Familiar foe

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Dante Fowler’s final game playing for the Jaguars was a loss against the Eagles on Oct. 28, where he notched two solo tackles.

On Sunday, Fowler made an assisted tackle in his second time facing the Eagles this season. He used his experience to give his teammates pointers as they reviewed film together.

“Pretty same, same thing,” Fowler said of facing the Eagles a second time.

Foles starting at quarterback in place of Carson Wentz changed the Eagles’ offense somewhat, Fowler said, but the familiarity helped.

“Sucks that we didn’t get it done,” he said.

Ram tough

After spending his first eight seasons in the NFL playing for the Rams, Eagles defensive end Chris Long faced his former team for the third time in his career.

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Long made one tackle and forced two quarterback hurries, and greeted Rams defensive end Michael Brockers before the game. The former teammates have stayed in touch through group chats and catch up whenever their teams face off.

“It’s always good to see him …” Brockers said. “At the same time, you know, you want him to go out there and ball with us as well.”

Etc.

The Rams and Eagles weren’t the only athletes — past or present — to take to the field Sunday night. The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge joined former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and former Angels manager Mike Scioscia on the sideline before the game.

blake.richardson@latimes.com

@rblakerich_


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