This had to be the most nerve-racking, love-it, hate-it Rams game I've seen in 10 years. On one hand, the intensity I saw out of the Rams was sky high. From Steven Jackson's first down run, where he ended up sans helmet, but simply would not be denied. To (what should have been) Sam Bradford's game winning drive, in the 4th quarter, capped by an absolute laser shot to Austin Pettis in the back of the endzone. To the two successful fake punt attempts by Johnny Hekker. To Danny Amendola's reaction to the missed overtime field goal. I was so up and down and cheering/cursing so hard, I had half the northeast Ohio bar I where I watch the games, full of Browns and Steelers fans, rooting for the Rams as well. (Well... except for the two douchebag 49ers fans, who wouldn't come near me until late in the 4th quarter, then, inexplicably disappeared again when the Rams took it to OT.)
Steven Jackson was absolutely a man posessed, yesterday. He must have spent the last two weeks working out with rocks in a wheel barrow a ox-plow yoke and a picture of the 49ers defensive line taped to his mirror, like Rocky Balboa did Ivan Drago. Jackson hit the 100 yard mark, for the first time (including a TD) against one of the stingiest defensive fronts in the NFL.
Sam Bradford was money the entire game. He was tough as nails on the final drive of regulation, going 5 for 5 with a TD. And this, with his deep threat, Chris Givens, inactive for "team rules violations". Still don't know the story on that one. But, hey... there was even a Brian Quick sighting. Imagine that!
Danny Amendola was... well... Danny Amendola. He shredded the 'Niners' defense to the tune of 11 catches and 102 yards. The Rams are clearly a different offense when he's on the field. The Rams would be no worse than 5-3-1, if he doesn't get injured this season. And you can't convince me otherwise. Les Snead better be serving him breakfast in bed this morning, with a new contract rolled up in his morning paper.
On the other hand, of course, there were the boneheaded, shotgun to the foot, plays that littered this game. Most notably, Isaiah Pead's kick return fumble, that allowed the 49ers right back into the game in the 4th quarter. But, not limited to Craig Dahl whiffing on Ted Ginn Jr, to give up San Fran's first TD. And of course, take you pick of the 85 yards worth of penalties that destroyed our chances at winning this game. Two of which directly took the win away. The Rams, on several occasions, simply let the 49ers off the hook.
While they're not completely without fault, I just can't put too much blame on the defense in this one. One of the TDs given up was on a very short field, courtesy of Pead's butterfingers. Secondly, there's a lot of talk about not being able to stop a backup QB. Well, truth be told, there isn't a whole lot of game film on Colin Kaepernick. He's really a wild-card kind of QB. He was going to do things that the Rams simply weren't ready for. Hell, I think that if Alex Smith stays in, we win this game. The Rams D had his number. Smith's concussion was absolutely the best thing that could have happened to the 49ers.
To be honest, I don't know whether to be encouraged, or infuriated at yesterday's effort. The Rams really had nothing to gain, or lose. We weren't even expected to compete. So, a tie comes off more as a moral victory for us (if you believe in that sort of thing), and demoralizing to the "dominant" 49ers, who were supposed to absolutely steamroll us on their way to another easy division title. Aside from the debilitating miscues, you gotta admit, the Rams came out and absolutely balled yesterday. Even with the lion's share of the bounces (and calls) going the 49ers' way, we still took them to the wire. There was ZERO quit in these guys. We very well could have rolled over and been reduced to yet another grease spot on the Candlestick Park turf as many expected. Instead, we put the 'Niners on their ear for 75 minutes. And Next time, they have to come to OUR house. This game will be firmly embedded in their memory, and should be in ours, as well.
If the Rams put in the same effort the rest of the season, we could be a very, VERY dangerous team. The big question now is... will we actually be dangerous to our opponents... or ourselves?