The St. Louis Rams produced a big upset against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. And with that win the Rams stay alive - although still a long shot - in a tight NFC playoff race. However, it didn't have to be this way. The Rams could easily have 6, 7, or even 8 wins at this point.
Don't believe me? Let's take a quick journey down memory.
Detriot Lions- Lost because of the soft coverage by the defense
This game was so long time ago, honestly I had to re-watch the condensed version of this game on NFL Game Rewind. It didn't take long before I remembered, this was the game where everyone's complaints about the Rams soft coverage began.
The Rams intercepted Matthew Stafford 3 times. All three were by the Rams newcomers and potentially their biggest impact players on defense, Janoris Jenkins, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and Cortland Finnegan returned one of them for a touchdown. It wasn't a bad performance for this group's first game together, let alone the first game of the season.
One of the most influential authorities said it best, "opportunity comes once in a lifetime." The Rams blew it. Matthew Stafford showed his magic against the Rams soft coverage, driving 80 yards in less than 2 minutes, and won with only seconds remaining in the game. The touchdown pass to Kevin Smith still haunts me.
Lions won the game 27-23.
Miami Dolphins- Lost because of missed kicks
This Rams were riding high by week 6. Winning two games in a row and traveling to Miami for a nice vacation had to be on their minds, and that's how they played. Still don't believe me? Fisher said the reason why Janoris Jenkins let his man run by him for a touchdown is because he saw a penalty flag in the air, and the next thing you knowhe's making Ryan Tannehill look like the next Dan Marino.
That's not the reason the Rams lost .
This game was on Greg Zuerlein. He missed three field goals. If he just makes one of those the Rams would've had a shot to win in overtime. He missed two kicks (32 and 48) that should be routine. Coming into the game, he was 15-of-15 before those two misses. Jeff Fisher decided to send Greg back into the game to attempt a 66-yarder that missed. Maybe one day he'll be a kicker of myth and lore for 100 years from now, but he missed and the Rams lost.
The Dolphins win the game 17-14.
The first 49ers game- Lost because of penalties
The game that broke the hearts of fans and both teams - the epic tie-game. Honestly, you would be hard pressed to find a person who thought the Rams deserved to lose this game, but they did whatever they could to not to win.
First, Jeff Fisher decided to discipline Janoris Jenkins and Chris Givens by sitting them; a move that I never understood. Why hurt the team? Nonetheless, the move was made, and the Rams choked the game away. Sam Bradford reminded fans what good quarterback play was like during a late rally to score on the 49ers. Then Colin Kaepernick decided he wanted to win the quarterback job outright and led the 49ers down the field with a little over a minute remaining in the game to a tie in regulation.
While there were plenty of penalties that handicapped the Rams in this game, I will just mention the two biggest, and both happened in overtime.
The first penalty was against Brandon Gibson because he didn't check with the line judge. A simple mistake that shouldn't have happened, but the penalty wiped out a long bomb from Bradford to Danny Amendola that ended inside the 49ers' 10 yard line.
Then "Greg the Future Legend" made a 53 yard kick to win the game in OT for the Rams, however special teams weren't exempt from penalties. The Rams lost 5 yards on a delay of game call, which resulted in Greg missing the next field goal try.
The Rams could, and should have a better record than they have right now, but no one said having a young team would be without headaches. At least the future is looking up in St. Louis.