The Rams keep it on the ground to beat the Cowboys 30-22. The Chiefs turn to their defense to shut down the Colts in a 31-13 victory.
LOS ANGELES — The high-flying Los Angeles Rams kept the ball firmly on the ground, and they ran straight past the Dallas Cowboys for a breakthrough playoff victory.
C.J. Anderson rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and Todd Gurley ran for 115 more yards and another TD in the Rams’ first postseason win in 14 years, 30-22 over the Cowboys in the divisional round Saturday night.
From the opening drive until the final first down, Gurley and Anderson methodically punished the Cowboys’ normally sturdy run defense and sent the second-seeded Rams (14-3) to the NFC championship game for the first time in 17 years.
Los Angeles racked up a franchise playoff-record 273 yards rushing. That’s also the most ever allowed in the postseason by the Cowboys, who were playing in their NFL-record 63rd postseason game.
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“Feels great, just running the ball the way we did,” quarterback Jared Goff said after his first career playoff victory. “Two 100-yard rushers, that’s rare, and it starts with those five guys up front.”
The long-struggling Rams had won only one postseason game since their last trip to the Super Bowl in February 2002, but 32-year-old coach Sean McVay has added his first playoff victory to his spectacular two-season franchise turnaround.
“That’s a big-time win for us, and the key was being able to hold them to 50 yards (rushing) and to rush for 273,” McVay said.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a TD and Amari Cooper caught an early TD pass for the Cowboys (11-7), who still haven’t won a playoff game on the road in 26 years. After winning the NFC East and beating Seattle last week, Dallas lost in the divisional playoff round for the sixth consecutive time and fell short of its first trip to the NFC championship game since January 1996.
Next weekend, the Rams will face the winner of the other divisional playoff game in New Orleans between the top-seeded Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
The Rams are one win away from another Super Bowl trip after McVay’s inventive offense largely stuck to old-time football basics behind their unlikely running back tandem and an offensive line determined to assert its superiority.
Chiefs in AFC title game for first time since 1994
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense had heard the chorus of critics all season long, the ones that claimed their sieve-like line and shaky backfield would spoil young superstar Patrick Mahomes and cost them a chance to chase their first Super Bowl appearance in decades.
Well, that defense is a big reason why the Chiefs are one step away.
With persistent snow turning Arrowhead Stadium into a winter wonderland, the Chiefs successfully shut down Andrew Luck and the potent Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Mahomes and the rest of their own high-powered offense took care of the rest, rolling to a 31-13 victory in the divisional round to end 25 years of playoff frustration.
“We’re such a different team,” said Mahomes, who threw for 278 yards while running for a score. “We have such young players. We have such confidence we’re going to win every single game.”
Damien Williams ran through snow and muck for 129 yards and another score, and Tyreek Hill had 72 yards receiving and a touchdown run, as the Chiefs beat Indianapolis for the first time in five playoff meetings to earn their first AFC title game appearance since January 1994.
The AFC West champions will play the winner of Sunday’s game between the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots next weekend for a spot in the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
“We wanted to light up the city,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “We didn’t want to take the road down memory lane.”
Andrew Luck was held to 203 yards passing for the Colts, while Marlon Mack was a non-factor on the ground. He had 46 yards rushing before leaving late in the fourth quarter with a hip injury.
“Was not expecting it to end today,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “We knew we were going up against a very good team, a very well-coached team. It’s hard to lose. It’s hard to lose when you’ve come this far with the team that we have and the guys that we have, so credit to the Chiefs.
“They outcoached us, they outplayed us,” Reich said. “We just gave them too many opportunities.”