He was bundled up in a T-shirt, a designer hoodie and a thick, puffy green jacket. A warm knit cap topped his head and he tucked his black jeans into fashionably thick work boots.
Todd Gurley looked ready for the cold weather that awaited once he exited the locker room after the Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
In the previous few hours, he had not concerned himself with the 25-degree temperature.
Gurley just ran his way through it.
The reigning NFL offensive player of the year rushed for a career-best 208 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams improved to 6-0 with the victory before 66,888 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
“You want to go with what’s working,” Gurley said, “and that’s kind of what we did.”
Cairo Santos kicked three field goals and the Rams defense bounced back from last week’s effort against the Seattle Seahawks with a stronger performance in coordinator Wade Phillips’ return to Denver.
The Rams remain a Super Bowl favorite heading into next week’s NFC West game against the San Francisco 49ers, which will be the Rams third consecutive road game.
As they did last week against the Seahawks, the Rams held off a late challenge.
The outcome was not secured until receiver Robert Woods knocked an onside kick out of bounds with fewer than 90 seconds left.
But the Rams will take it.
“It ain’t always going to be a blowout,” defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “It’s going to be close games, and you’ve got to try and find a way to pull it out at the end.
“And I think we’ve been doing that week in a week out. That’s why we’re where we at right now.”
The Rams had surrendered 31 points in the each of their last two games, and 190 yards rushing in last week’s victory at Seattle. So Phillips — who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos in the 2015 season — and his players were determined to stop the run.
The Broncos were averaging 137 yards rushing per game. The Rams held them to 60.
“We executed,” middle linebacker Cory Littleton said, “simple as that.”
Broncos quarterback Case Keenum passed for 322 yards, burning the Rams secondary for long completions and two touchdowns.
But the Rams had Gurley to go against a Broncos defense that gave up more than 300 yards rushing in last week’s loss to the New York Jets.
The fifth-year pro’s spectacularly workmanlike effort provided the Rams with just enough to win. Gurley’s longest run covered 29 yards.
“He’s not going to be super flashy and juke someone out of their shoes,” Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. “He’s going to get north to south and get in the end zone.”
After morning snowfall, groundskeepers removed the tarp on the field for a game that kicked off in 25-degree temperatures, the coldest October game in Broncos history.
Players said the cold did not affect them.
But coach Sean McVay, falling on the sword as usual for mistakes made by players, joked that the conditions did have an impact.
“If anything,” he said, “the cold might have affected my brain.”
It did not bother Gurley: He eclipsed his previous career-best of 159 yards rushing.
“His performance speaks for itself,” center John Sullivan said. “I mean, it’s 200 yards rushing. Those don’t come around very often.”
Gurley, who signed a $60-million extension before the season, became the first Rams running back to top 200 yards since Marshall Faulk in 2001.
“Todd was Todd,” right tackle Rob Havenstein said, “so we fed him.”
Gurley carried 28 times and averaged 7.4 yards per carry. He scored on a 10-yard run on a fourth-down play in the second quarter, and gave the Rams a 20-3 lead in the third quarter with a short touchdown run.
“Kind of easy for me, honestly,” Gurley said, crediting the offensive line and receivers for clearing the way.
“We was feeling it in the run game — you know that’s kind of what we wanted to do,” he said. “Me and all the big boys up front.”
Gurley’s performance helped pick up the slack for a passing game that faltered at times.
Goff entered the game having been sacked only six times in five games. The Broncos sacked him five times.
Goff passed for 201 yards, with an interception.
“It just shows we can win in multiple ways,” he said.
The last few games prove it, according to Gurley.
“We put ourself in some crazy situations sometimes,” he said, “But as a team, we come together and when it’s time to make a play, either offense going to make it, special teams going to make it or the defense or whoever.”