DENVER -- Running back Todd Gurley ran for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns _ the second back in as many games to surpass 200 yards against Denver’s beleaguered defense _ and the Los Angeles Rams remained undefeated by downing the Broncos 23-20 on an icy Sunday in Denver.
Gurley’s touchdown runs came earlier in the game but he also chewed up yardage down the stretch, when the Broncos were desperately trying to slow him down to get the ball back for their offense. Gurley’s gains in the late going helped to set up Cairo Santos’ third field goal, a 23-yarder with 3:15 left to play. It came at the end of a 13-play drive that consumed 5:39.
The game was played amid intermittent light snow with temperatures in the mid-20s. In last week’s loss to the New York Jets, Denver gave up 219 yards to Isaiah Crowell.
Case Keenum drove the Broncos the length of the field, aided by three defensive penalties, before completing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 1:22 remaining to pull Denver within three points. But Denver’s subsequent onside kick attempt was pushed out of bounds by the Rams, giving the ball to Los Angeles. Jared Goff came on to take a knee twice to run out the final moments and seal the win for the Rams (6-0).
It was the fourth straight loss for the Broncos (2-4) who had opened the season with a pair of wins.
Denver cut the deficit to 20-13 on Brandon McManus’ second field goal, a 24-yarder with 8:54 remaining. A 41-yard completion from Keenum to rookie wideout Courtland Sutton, plus a personal foul call on Rams pass defender LaMarcus Joyner gave the Broncos a first down at the Los Angeles 11-yard line. Denver settled for the field goal after second and third down passes fell incomplete.
Trailing by 17, the Broncos pulled to within 10 points on Keenum’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders late in the third quarter. Safety Darian Stewart’s interception of a deflected pass from Goff led to the Broncos’ first touchdown, with Denver taking over at the Rams’ 12-yard line. After an offensive pass interference penalty set the Broncos back to the 22, Keenum hit the open Sanders over the middle, and as two Rams defenders tried to bring him down, Sanders extended his arm with the ball over the goal line for the score.
The Rams stretched their lead to 20-3 on Gurley’s second touchdown run, a 1-yarder, midway through the third quarter. The scoring run was aided by a pass interference call on cornerback Tramaine Brock in the end zone, which set the Rams with a first-and-goal at the 1.
The Rams led 13-3 at halftime as Gurley broke through for a 10-yard touchdown run on a 4th-and-1 play early in the second quarter.
Gurley kicked off the drive with a 29-yard run _ his longest of the day _ that advanced the Rams into Denver territory and helped to get them within striking distance with a 13-yard catch over the middle that took the Rams inside the 20.
Denver’s best chance to score a touchdown in the first half was done in by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Keenum completed a 43-yard pass to Sanders that initially was ruled a touchdown. In the immediate aftermath, Sanders was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting the defender he beat, cornerback Troy Hill, and a replay review nullified the touchdown when it was determined that Sanders was down by contact at the 1-yard line.
Rather than have the penalty enforced at the kickoff, it pushed the Broncos back to the 16, and the Broncos settled for a 28-yard field goal by McManus after Keenum’s third-down pass intended for tight end Jeff Heuerman fell incomplete.