As a long pass from Jared Goff arced above the field at MetLife Stadium, Rams receiver Sammy Watkins said he was “running for my life” to make sure he caught it for a touchdown.
Apparently, he was moving very fast.
Through its “Next Gen Stats” initiative, the NFL tracks player movement, speed and acceleration during every game. Last Sunday, five players eclipsed 20 miles per hour as ball carriers.
Three play for the Rams, the league announced Tuesday.
Running back Todd Gurley and receivers Robert Woods and Watkins all blew past the 20-mph benchmark in the Rams’ rout of the New York Giants.
Gurley topped out at 20.62 mph, Woods 20.43 and Watkins 20.33.
The three combined for five touchdowns in a victory that improved the Rams’ record to 6-2 heading into Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans at the Coliseum.
“They’re playing as one of the best teams in the league right now,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Tuesday during a teleconference.
Gurley totaled 104 yards from scrimmage and scored on two short touchdown runs, increasing his league-leading total to 10. On the Rams’ first play, Gurley broke loose for a 36-yard run. He also turned a short reception into a 44-yard gain.
Woods, who signed as a free agent this offseason, scored his first two touchdowns. The most dynamic came in a third-and-33 situation, when Woods caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage and then dashed to the end zone for a 52-yard score.
“Had some space,” he said after the game, “and got to go.”
Woods, who has a team-best 31 catches for 451 yards, anchored California state champion 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams at Gardena Serra High. He also finished third in the 200.
“You look at Robert, everybody wants to talk about him as a possession receiver,” coach Sean McVay said this week. “That’s where you could see his 200-meter speed, as he was able to cut across the grain and finish.
Rams Todd Gurley reaches for the end zone as he is tackled by Calvin Munson of the New York Giants.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Los Angeles Rams nose tackle Michael Brockers reacts during the second half.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Robert Woods of the Los Angeles Rams scores a touchdown as Nat Berhe of the New York Giants misses the tackle in the second quarter.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Robert Woods #17 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates after scoring his second touchdown of the day.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
New York Giants’ Wayne Gallman flips over Los Angeles Rams’ Troy Hill (32) during the second half.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown rushes during the second half.(Bill Kostroun / AP)
Giants running back Orleans Darkwa is tackled by Tanzel Smart of the Los Angeles Rams.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Giants quarterback Eli Manning fumbles the ball on a sack by Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams in the first quarter.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Rams’ Todd Gurley is chased by Darian Thompson in the first quarter.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff looks to pass during the first half as New York Giants’ Dalvin Tomlinson closes in.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Rams running back Todd Gurley rushes for a touchdown during the second half against the New York Giants.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass to Tyler Higbee for a touchdown during the first half against the New York Giants.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Rams running back Todd Gurley evades defenders during the first half against the New York Giants.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee catches a pass for a touchdown in font of New York Giants Keenan Robinson.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins catches a pass in front of New York Giants Landon Collins during the first half. Watkins scored a touchdown on the play.(Bill Kostroun / AP)
Los Angeles Rams Mark Barron breaks up a pass to New York Giants Evan Engram.(Julio Cortez / AP)
Robert Woods of the Los Angeles Rams rushes for a touchdown after catching a pass in front of Nat Berhe of the New York Giants in the first half at MetLife Stadium.(Rob Carr / Getty Images)
“That was a strong finish by Robert.”
Watkins scored on a 67-yard play after Goff lofted a pass that traveled more than 60 yards.
McVay watched Watkins motor down the field while tracking the ball.
“That thing got out there and it was carrying really well,” McVay said, “and you could see it was going to have to be a phenomenal, fingertip-type catch. When he pulled it in, I think I was probably as excited as anybody.”
Texans shuffle QBs
The Texans, who lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson because of a knee injury, on Tuesday released Matt McGloin just a couple days after signing him and signed Josh Johnson.
Tom Savage started last week in a 20-14 loss against the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to start against the Rams.
Savage completed 19 of 44 passes, one for a touchdown, against the Colts. But he fumbled twice, including one on the final play, a fourth-and-goal from the seven-yard line.
“Tom knows our offense well,” O’Brien said. “Tom knows that he needs to play better. We need to keep working together to get him to play better.”
Rams linebacker Cory Littleton has blocked two punts this season, and both led to touchdowns.
Against Jacksonville, running back Malcolm Brown scooped the ball and bulldozed into the end zone. Against the Giants, the Rams scored three plays after Littleton’s third-quarter block.
The blocked kicks have a carryover effect “for future games,” Littleton said.
“Other punt teams are going to have to sit in there even longer just for protection purposes,” he said.
McVay credits special teams coordinator John Fassel for identifying and developing Littleton, who played in college at Washington and signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent before last season.
Littleton also backs up linebackers Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron, and has made 11 tackles.
“When he’s played defense, he’s been extremely efficient,” McVay said. “He continues to show up week in and week out.
“He’s very important to our special teams and I think he’s a big reason why they’re playing at such a high level.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
Staff writer Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.