ARLINGTON, Texas — Todd Gurley can help make Jared Goff’s second go-round in the NFL much more enjoyable than the first.
What better way for the Los Angeles Rams running back to show it than to lead a win over last year’s dynamic rookie duo of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and 2016 NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott?
Gurley finished with 121 yards rushing and 94 receiving as the Rams overcame two first-half touchdowns from Elliott the day before a federal appeals court hearing related to the star running back’s blocked six-game suspension over a domestic incident in Ohio.
“Me being able to step up takes a lot of stress off everybody, and we obviously have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things, just being able to have diversity on offense,” Gurley said.
The Rams (3-1) rallied from 11 points down late in the first half and matched their start from a year ago, when they went 1-11 the rest of the way as Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, was sitting and later lost the first seven starts of his career.
Goff showed more poise in first-year coach Sean McVay’s offense, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has seven TD passes and one interception this season.
The Cowboys (2-2) are already a loss shy of their total from last season when Prescott, the 135th pick in Goff’s draft, was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the top-seeded team in the NFC.
And Prescott is already one interception away from last year’s total of four after a play that was originally ruled a fumble was changed to a diving pick by linebacker Mark Barron at the Dallas 29. Zuerlein’s sixth field gave the Rams 19 straight points and a 32-24 lead.
“We’re not going to lose confidence,” Prescott said. “We feel like we’re getting better. Even in a loss, we’re going to find a way to get better.”
Dallas held the Rams to 131 yards in the first half, but the absence of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) showed up after halftime. After punting on their first possession of the second half, the Rams scored five straight times, including Gurley’s long TD catch.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, punted on their first three possessions of the second half after scoring on all four first-half drives. Prescott’s interception came on the fourth possession after halftime against a defense led by former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips.
“Just had little corrections we had to fix here and there,” said All-Pro Aaron Donald, who had Prescott wrapped for a sack in the first half before losing his grip as Prescott ducked and spun away on an 18-yard throw to Dez Bryant. “Once we did that we were solid.”
Prescott was 20 of 36 for 252 yards with three touchdowns, including a 10-yarder to Elliott. Bryant had five catches for a season-high 98 yards.
MINI-ME, MINI-ME TWO
Gurley had 30 touches: 23 carries and a team-high seven catches. Receiver Tavon Austin had six carries for 48 yards and at one point had 40 yards rushing to Gurley’s 41. “Tavon, I guess he’s the mini-running back now and I’m the mini-receiver,” Gurley said.
Elliott had 85 yards on 21 carries for his third straight sub-100-yard game, matching the longest such streak from last season. Backup Alfred Morris had the longest Dallas run of the season and longest of his career, a 70-yarder to set up Elliott’s second TD. The 1-yard plunge came after a review overturned a touchdown. Both times, Elliott took the ball to his mom in a field-level suite behind the end zone. Morris had 76 yards.
TRY, TRY AGAIN
Terrance Williams dropped a potential tying 2-point conversion pass on the third try midway through the fourth quarter after Prescott’s 28-yard scoring toss to James Hanna got Dallas within 32-30. Center Travis Frederick was called for holding when Prescott ran in the first attempt. Dallas got another shot after a defensive holding call.
Zuerlein said he never before had more than five field goals in a game at any level. The sixth-year pro had five in a 22-7 win over Denver in November 2014. He had a 44-yarder on the final play of the first half, and the long was from 49.
Rams: Will be in first place for first meeting next Sunday with Seattle, winner of three NFC West titles in the past four seasons.
Cowboys: Green Bay returns to Arlington next Sunday after beating the top-seeded Cowboys on their home field in a divisional playoff last January.