Even the ugliest of games can seem beautiful when they amount to a win. The St. Louis Rams know the feeling after improving to 4-0-1 in the NFC West.
Was it the sloppiest victory of the season? Or was it the sweetest? In actuality, it was probably both.
Though it may have taken ten periods of play, the St. Louis Rams finally bested the San Francisco 49ers by a 40-37 point margin and a 1-0-1 record in 2012. With only one divisional match-up yet to be played, the Rams are on the brink of a (nearly) perfect season in the NFC West.
For now, though, the Buffalo Bills are next in line, so there's still time left to revel in yesterday's victory. On to the links for how it all went down.
Rams give 49ers the boot in OT- It was the "Leg," really, as punter Johnny Hekker's overused boot nearly gave way to San Francisco just shy of mid-field, but that's not the point. The underdog, cellar-dweller of the NFC West, St. Louis Rams have effectively quieted critics. And, while it may be implausible to expect a playoff push, the team will surely set a standard and tone heading into next season.
This marks only round 2 of what will quickly become a rejuvenated, long-standing rivalry, one which Jeff Fisher's Rams currently own.
Post-game report card - Sam Bradford and the offense overall were basically silent, contributing only two points via a Lance Kendricks 2-point conversion to force a late tie. Still, no one turned the ball over, Sam survived San Francisco's elite pass rush and the unit rallied when it mattered most. Bradford's runs of 14 and 11 yards with less than 2 minutes remaining showed impressive athleticism and quick decision making.
Steven Jackson, though mostly quiet throughout the afternoon, played an integral role in both the Rams' game-tying and game-winning drives. He also eclipsed 13,000 career offensive yards from scrimmage.
The defense, getting better each time they touched the field, was incredibly stout, particularly against the run. Aside from Frank Gore's 23 yard scamper early the game, the 49ers' star back was held to just 35 yards on 22 carries. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's happy feet were held in check until a 50 yard gain nearly snuffed out the Rams' hopes.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar continues to impress and James Laurinaitis appears to be recapturing his former self. The two combined for 20 tackles on the day.
Rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins continues to be a human highlight reel, for both good and bad reasons. He joined in forcing a late safety and also recovered a fumble for a touchdown; however, Jenkins was targeted with success far too often. Why is he lined up 10 yards off of the wide receiver on third down and short?
Keys to the game answered - Whether it was Justin or Aldon, the Rams had to find a way to slow down the Smith's, just a sample of San Francisco's monstrous front-7. For much of the afternoon, they did. While both recorded a sack, it was the only two times that Sam Bradford was taken down for a loss.
On defense, the Rams needed to win the turnover battle. They recorded only one takeaway, but it proved to be enough as the offense didn't even the score. The 49ers' elite ground game was shut down and Kaepernick was allowed little room to scramble and buy extra time for plays to develop.
Mike Sando's wrap-up - It's just not a Rams game without head-scratching, teeth-grinding penalties, and neither team disappointed. All together, they totaled 19. So many fouls, along with an inability to score points, nearly doomed both teams to another agonizing deadlock. The Rams need to find a way to put the ball in the end zone.
49ers think they got bad call on safety - It was late into the third quarter before the Rams finally found the end zone - sort of - and the scoreboard. Colin Kaepernick felt pressure, retreated back, scrambled right and threw the ball out of bounds. The result - a penalty for intentional grounding, a safety and two points. Kaepernick felt that the ball reached the line of scrimmage, which would have made the play legal; the referees and Ram fans disagreed.