The city and all of the dining, entertainment and diversions it offered beckoned.
After 10 days of being mostly cloistered on the road and turning around a season that was tipping toward possible collapse, many Rams could not wait to hit the town Sunday night.
“Can’t tell you where I’m going to be at,” running back Todd Gurley told reporters, “but I’ll be in these streets.”
He would not be alone.
“I’m going to see what this city is made of,” cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said.
On a night when the Rams entertained an enthusiastic Wembley Stadium crowd by pulling off a double-reverse flea-flicker pass for a touchdown, they also had reason to celebrate.
Cooper Kupp amassed a career-best 220 yards receiving, Jared Goff passed for two touchdowns, Gurley ran for a touchdown and the defense did not allow a point in the second half as the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-10.
The Rams did not win a title. They did not even ensure they would make the playoffs. But their victory before a crowd of 83,720 improved their record to 5-3 heading into next week’s open date. And it positioned them at the season’s midpoint to remain a factor in the NFC West.
For a franchise coming off a Super Bowl appearance, that does not qualify as a major — or minor — milestone. But it is a far better position than what the Rams were staring at two weeks ago when they were mired in a three-game losing streak and watching the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks establish themselves as front-runners in the division.
The Rams defeated the Falcons in Atlanta, and then stayed over in Atlanta for three more days before traveling to London to play the winless Bengals.
“Put a lot of miles behind us and it’s only going to be better for us later down the road,” safety Marqui Christian said.
After losses against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and 49ers, the Rams clearly benefited from games against the struggling Falcons and Bengals, who exited Sunday with a combined record of 1-15.
But Rams coach Sean McVay liked much of what he saw the last two weeks.
“We did a good job of responding from some adversity,” he said. “We’re where our record says we are, but we want to be able to look at ourselves and figure out what can we do to just consistently have good, clean performances.”
The Rams do not play again until Nov. 10, when they travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 2-4 heading into a Monday night game with winless Miami (0-6).
So they were looking forward to relaxing Sunday evening, sleeping on Monday’s long flight back to Los Angeles and then taking care of their bodies and minds during their off week before the final eight games.
“Hopefully, eight more that we win,” linebacker Cory Littleton said. “At least that’s going to be our mindset. Going to take a week off, get a little rejuvenated, just make a break from football and then back to the grind.”
Said cornerback Troy Hill: “We go into the bye and everybody’s getting healthy and we come back stronger.”
The Rams might take a cue from Kupp.
In 2018, he sustained a major knee injury that ended his season. But the third-year pro came back from surgery and — McVay noted whenever he was asked — actually looked faster and stronger.
On Sunday, Kupp continued to show it was not an illusion. He had 165 yards receiving in the first half, 65 coming on a double-reverse pass from Goff for a touchdown.
Kupp started the play by moving left to right and taking a handoff from Goff. Kupp pitched the ball to receiver Robert Woods going right to left, and Woods then pitched the ball back to Goff.
Kupp had continued running down the right sideline and Goff fired a pass. Bengals cornerback B.W. Webb closed on Kupp, but Webb tripped as Kupp caught the ball. Kupp then dashed down the sideline to the end zone to the delight of the crowd for a 17-10 lead.
“Usually, plays like that come about kind of on accident,” Kupp said. “You’re just ready whenever it’s going to get called.”
Gurley gave the Rams all the cushion they needed with a short touchdown run at the start of the second half, a drive highlighted by Kupp’s 40-yard reception.
Goff completed 17 of 31 passes for 372 yards without an interception.
“We’re starting to catch our rhythm,” he said.
So is the defense. The Rams gave up early rushing yards against the Bengals, but sacked Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton five times. Dante Fowler and Obo Okoronkwo each had 1 1/2 sacks and Aaron Donald had one.
Afterward, it was time to step out with no curfew.
“We rolling,” Robey-Coleman said. “We got some momentum and we’re just going to keep it up.”