REPORTING FROM ATLANTA — Let’s answer the most obvious question first.
Todd Gurley was healthy.
He said it. His teammates said it. Coach Sean McVay said it.
To be more accurate, they all repeated it Sunday, answering the question the same way they had for the last two weeks.
Gurley was healthy for Super Bowl LIII. Only his game was hurting. Again.
Similar to the NFC championship, the NFL’s regular-season touchdown leader was strangely silent in — points-wise — the least-offensive Super Bowl ever.
“No, I was fine,” Gurley said when asked directly if he was hurting. “I felt good.”
He finished the Rams’ 13-3 loss to New England with 10 carries for 35 yards and one reception for minus-one yard.
Gurley carried on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage and then touched the ball only twice more before halftime as the offense was unable to sustain any momentum.
He was replaced for extended stretches by C.J. Anderson, who also struggled, gaining only 22 yards on seven carries.
“It’s cool, man,” said Gurley, who signed a $60-million extension in the offseason and then emerged as an MVP candidate as the Rams began their roll. “It’s a team sport. There are 11 people on the field. Everyone can’t touch the ball.”
Gurley missed the final two games of the regular season because of a left knee injury. But he returned to run for 115 yards in 16 carries in a divisional-round victory over Dallas.
In the NFC title game against New Orleans, Gurley rushed for just 10 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Afterward, he described his performance as “sorry as hell.”
Gurley and McVay maintained in advance of Super Bowl LIII that health was not an issue. McVay repeatedly explained that one of his primary objectives Sunday was to get Gurley involved.
Following the game, McVay said the Rams’ difficulties maintaining possession — they failed to convert their first eight third downs — was one of the reasons they established little rhythm.
He also credited the defense of the Patriots and took the blame for failing to find his stride calling plays.
“I think a lot of it was a result of some of the things they did but then also the play selection,” McVay said. “I was not pleased with my feel of the flow of the game at all.
“We just really didn’t get a chance to get anyone going today offensively, and that starts with me.”
Gurley, who had surgery on the same knee in college, insisted he would need no special treatment this offseason. He dismissed the notion that he’ll require additional surgery.
Asked if he would at least have to take some extended time off before he could return to being 100%, Gurley said, “I mean, I kinda had a break, low-key, the pasttwo months. It’s cool. ... I’m fine.”
The Rams ended up with only 62 yards in 18 rushes as a team. Of their 14 first downs, just two came on the ground.
This from an offense that finished third in the NFL during the regular season with an average of 133.5 yards rushing.
“They played New England football,” Anderson said when asked how the Patriots stopped the Rams. “That’s what they do. They’ve been doing that for years, so nothing changed. We just didn’t execute, plain and simple.”
Gurley, meanwhile, was left to explain anothersubpar individual performance and another game in which he was present but, at the same time, largely absent.
He talked about the importance of seizing chances when they come and about maintaining the mind-set of playing as a team.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said of the Super Bowl.
“This chance isn’t guaranteed. At the end of the day, God blessed me and my teammates to be able to play in this game.
“It’s disappointing. But you know what? What in life is not disappointing? You go through stuff like this to overcome bigger things later. Just trying to stay true to who I am and this team. It’s tough. But we’ll get through it.”