Yes it was close.
Yes, it came down to the final possession.
Yes, Frank Gore still mustered 130-some yards rushing.
Yes, the Rams made some ugly plays.
But it's a win, the kind of win we became so familiar with earlier in the season.
Let's take a moment to review what we liked about that game.
Props to the jumbled mess of replacement parts serving as the Rams' offensive line. They allowed just two sacks, and helped the offense average almost 5 yards a carry. I must admit, I didn't think they could do it, as ugly as they looked last week. Two things happened. They kept it simple. Assignments were made based on palyer abilities, and the more liable parts of the line were minimized by blocking weaker parts of the Niners' defense. They also found some heart. One thing I really enjoy about football versus baseball is the difference players can make by summoning a little something extra for two and half hours and playing beyond their expected ability. The mental game plays a big role on the grid iron, and the Rams had theirs working for them yesterday.
The front seven on defense weren't going to fool anyone into thinking they were the Baltimore Ravens defense, but they made big plays when they needed to. When they stuffed Gore on 3rd and 1 in the fourth quarter, they saved the game and gave Bulger and Co. a damn good chance to capture the day. In the backfield, the Rams have a defense to build on with Tye Hill, and I wonder if he can become a key emotional leader of the defensive unit in the years ahead.
Special teams were a huge help in this game, forcing a fumble and getting a key take away on that punt return. It's nice to see the little considered things like special teams have a positive impact on this Rams team.
Linehan handed off the play calling duties to offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, and it seemed to really pay off. I'm a huge fan of this decision, because I think when head coaches try to do too much, it really just ends up distracting the team overall. That was always a key grievence I had with Martz as a head coach; he just couldn't fill both roles. Linehan had this quote in the Post-Dispatch which pretty well sums it up:
And that's ultimately what the Rams lacked last week, as they slogged through a game few players seemed interested in winning.