This isn't last year's Rams.
Todd Gurley scored three first half touchdowns, and Sammy Watkins scored two in the second half, as the Los Angeles Rams held on to defeat the rival San Francisco 49ers, 41-39, on Thursday Night Football at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara.
The revamped Rams offense was on full display on primetime as Jared Goff threw three touchdowns for 292 yards in his return to his hometown.
"I was Really pleased with Jared tonight," said Rams head coach Sean McVay, who also calls the plays on offense. "I thought he made great decisions with the football. I thought Jared managed the game extremely well, distributed to his playmakers, gave guys a chance down the field — you look at Sammy and Robert coming away with over 100 apiece. And, really, those are the kinds of things we expect from him."
Both Robert Woods and Watkins both had over 100 receiving yards as Woods had six catches for 108 yards, and Watkins had six catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
"I felt like we were just out there playing — like I didn’t know numbers or whatever," Woods said of his and Watkins’ performances. "We were just going out there and making plays, just doing our assignment and the ball was finding us. Jared put up some nice balls for us to catch and I think we’re doing that."
Gurley had five catches for 36 yards and a score and had over 100 yards rushing with two touchdowns on the ground.
"We just got in a rhythm," said Gurley. "Everybody was getting going. We were able to have a little success running the ball and then we opened up the passing game. So it just felt good to be out there and execute as an offense."
Los Angeles became the fastest team to score this season when starting on defense after Neckell Robey-Coleman intercepted Brian Hoyer's first pass of the game, returning the ball to the San Francisco three-yard-line.
"Oh the first play? Yeah that was lit," Robey-Coleman said with a laugh. "The first play was great — broke on the ball, got a good read on the quarterback, the D-line got a good rush, and I came away with an interception. I feel like that set the tempo for the night."
One play later, Gurley rushed up the middle for the first touchdown of the game, as the Rams took the lead just 12 seconds in.
Last season, the Rams were shutout in San Francisco at Levis Stadium, but they quickly turned the tables on Thursday night.
On the ensuing San Francisco drive, the Rams had appeared to stop the Niners, forcing a punt, but defensive back Blake Countess jumped offsides on the punt, handing the 49ers a new set of downs.
Brian Hoyer made the most of his second chance as he scored on a nine-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
That's one way to make up for throwing a Pick. Brian Hoyer scores for the #49ers to help tie the game up! He paid out +1000 for that TD. pic.twitter.com/6CcHyr56Ha— Bovada Official (@BovadaLV) September 22, 2017
The scramble by Hoyer was the first touchdown of the season for the 49ers after they failed to find the endzone in their first two games of the season against the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.
Gurley scored his second touchdown of the quarter and of the game when he caught a pass from Jared Goff and scurried seven yards to the endzone to put the Rams up 14-7.
Gurley got the hat trick right before the half when he took the toss from Goff and beat the San Francisco defense to the left pylon for the score.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again as the 49ers found out when they handed the ball off to Carlos Hyde on three straight possessions at the goaline. After a third down and goal stop by the Rams defense, San Francisco went for it on fourth down and Hyde finally broke through the Mob Squad for the score.
Sammy Watkins scored his first touchdown in a Los Angeles Rams uniform when he caught a slant from Goff to put L.A. back up by 14 points.
San Francisco would respond right away as the game suddenly became a shootout in the second half.
After a deep 50-yard completion to Marquis Goodwin just before the end of the quarter, Brian Hoyer found tight-end Garrett Celek in the endzone for the touchdown.
Brian Hoyer fakes the handoff and finds Garrett Celek in the end zone for the touchdown. Robbie Gould missed the extra point. #49ers pic.twitter.com/HMu7oAsK6l— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) September 22, 2017
Watkins scored his second touchdown of the game when he caught a pass from Goff over the middle, carrying defenders on his back as he wrestled and reached for the goaline.
San Francisco would not go quietly into the Bay Area night as they quickly responded with a touchdown from Hoyer to Trent Taylor that once again put the 49ers within a single score.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pharaoh Cooper fumbled the ball on the Rams 25-yard-line, and the 49ers recovered, putting them in business for the game-tying score.
San Francisco did indeed score on another goaline run by Hyde, but were unable to tie the game as the two-point conversion was intercepted by defensive lineman Michael Brokers.
Hyde finished with 25 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns and Hoyer threw for 332 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
After an onside kick was recovered by San Francisco, it appeared that the 49ers were primed and ready for the game-winning score.
However, the comeback was not meant to be as lineman Aaron Donald sacked Hoyer on 4th and 20 to secure the victory for the Rams.
"We just knew we needed to make a big stop,” said Donald after the game. “We had given up a lot on defense and their offense was putting up points. So, it felt good to get those three and outs, and come off the field, and close the game out."
Los Angeles will have the next 10 days off to prepare for the Cowboys as the Rams head to the "House that Jerry Built" at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, October 1, at 10:00AM PST.