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Rams star Todd Gurley a non-factor in NFC championship game

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

By PAUL NEWBERRY

AP National Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Los Angeles Rams are headed to the Super Bowl despite one of the worst games of Todd Gurley's career.

The star running back carried the ball just four times for 10 yards Sunday, caught one pass for 3 yards and let a couple of passes slip through his hands - one of which led to an interception that set up a New Orleans Saints' field goal.

Gurley's performance in the NFC championship game became an afterthought when the Rams rallied from an early 13-0 deficit to beat the Saints 26-23 in overtime.

Still, the lack of playing time led to speculation that Gurley might be injured.

Coach Sean McVay said it was just "the flow of the game."

"What personifies Todd is this is an MVP-caliber player and he just kept fighting, he kept supporting his teammates," McVay said. "I thought they did a good job as a whole slowing down our run game and we kind of just had to grind some things out today. But Todd is a special player and I couldn't be more impressed with the way he handled himself."

It was the fewest carries in Gurley's four-year career. The only time he rushed for fewer yards was his very first game with the Rams, when the franchise was still in St. Louis. He carried six times for 9 yards in the 2015 season opener against Pittsburgh.

McVay was quick to point out Gurley's only significant contribution of the game - a 6-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left in the first half that cut the Saints' lead to 13-10.

"He's going to have an instrumental role in our game against whoever we play," the coach said. "He ended up making a big-time play."

Gurley ranked third in the league in rushing this season, finishing with 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had six 100-yard games during the regular season and added a 115-yard performance in last week's 30-22 victory over Dallas in the divisional round.

But the NFL's highest-paid running back got only five touches in biggest game of the season. C.J. Anderson wound up carrying the load out of the backfield, rushing 16 times for 44 yards.

After Greg Zuerlein booted a 57-yard field goal in overtime to win the game, Gurley joined the celebration.

"We're going to the Super Bowl," he screamed on the field. "Let's go! Lets'go!"

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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Updated January 20, 2019

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