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.
“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.
Littleton said he did the “same thing” on both blocks and could not have done it without help from teammates.
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.