After struggling through a minor ankle injury the last time he was on the field, Rams running back Todd Gurley rebounded with a more typical performance Sunday in the Rams’ 30-16 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Gurley rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns in 23 carries. He also caught three passes for 33 yards as the Rams improved their record to 11-1 and clinched the NFC West for the second season in a row.
The next goal?
“First-round bye, take that over,” Gurley said. “Take that No. 1 seed over, taking everything.”
Gurley, the reigning NFL offensive player of the year, rushed for only 55 yards in 12 carries, and caught three passes for 39 yards in the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 19. His 15 touches were nine fewer than his season average. And for the first time in 14 games dating to last season, he did not score a touchdown.
But he vaulted back into the most-valuable-player discussion with his effort against the Lions, which included touchdown runs of 13 and two yards.
One of his most dynamic plays Sunday came late in the fourth quarter. Gurley took a handoff and broke off the left side for what easily could have been a 38-yard touchdown. But he slowed at the 10-yard line and kept the clock moving until he was tackled at the two.
“Just trying to get the hell out of here, honestly,” Gurley said. “It was a long day, game was going slow, finally broke one, just wanted to waste some time, and let them get a timeout and get up out of here.”
Back where it started
Rams defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh returned to the stadium where he starred for his first five NFL seasons before signing a record contract with the Miami Dolphins after the 2014 season.
Suh, the second pick in the 2010 draft, made six tackles and drew two personal-foul penalties in the victory.
Fans sounded as if they were booing when Suh’s name was announced during the game, but the ninth-year pro joked that the fans were saying his name.
Every bit except the Lions organization. As he did during the week, Suh said he would continue to “refrain” from commenting about the Lions.
One of Suh’s penalties was for a hit on Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, with whom he has traded veiled barbs since leaving the Lions.
“It’s always good,” he said of the hit, “and it’s been a long time coming.”
Suh, who is playing on a one-year $14-million contract, said that he and Stafford “have mutual respect” for each other.
Asked if he thought any of Suh’s hits on him were questionable, Stafford said no.
“I really didn’t,” he said. “Plays hard, plays physical. It’s not [for] me to figure out what’s legal what’s not.”
Return to the lineup
After an eight-game absence because of a left ankle injury, cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the starting lineup.
Talib, an 11th-year pro, said he was in for 31 plays before trainers pulled him.
“I felt good though,” he said. “Felt great.”
Talib, 32, had watched in frustration as quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes torched the Rams’ secondary in games while he was sidelined.
Stafford passed for 245 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.
“Communication was better than it was in the past,” Talib said. “We made plays on the ball. So I think we did [improve] as a defense.
“I think we got to the next level, got better.”
Coach Sean McVay and Talib said the play count would increase in the Rams’ Week 14 game at Chicago.
“Still up to the trainers,” Talib said. “They going to be smart but I’m pretty sure it will increase a lot.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein