For the sixth time in a row, the Los Angeles Rams fell victim to the San Francisco 49ers, falling 27-24 in OT. But this one could be their most embarrassing after choking a 17 point lead in the first half. Pending the results from the Arizona Cardinal game, the loss could prove costly and move the Rams out of the second seed of the playoffs and into the fifth seed. There are still questions about LA going into the playoffs after a disappointing loss in the regular season finale. Here is how is all went down.
LA’s first drive of the game started at the 15 yard line after just a 14 yard return by Brandon Powell. On the second play of the game, Stafford was called for an uncommon QB false start. He quickly made up for it when he found Odell Beckham Jr. for a 13 yard gain and a first down. Facing another third down just a few players, Stafford found Cooper Kupp on a deep route that was good for 46 yards.
Los Angeles could not punch the ball in to the end zone after getting sacked at the 15 yard line. Matt Gay’s 43 yard field goal put up the first points of the game.
San Francisco started their first drive backed up at their own eight yard line after an illegal double-team penalty on the kickoff. Despite a nagging thumb injury, Jimmy Garoppolo got his offense moving with a 13 yard pass to Trent Sherfield on a third down. An impressive tackle on Deebo Samuel by Jalen Ramsey and tight coverage by Travin Howard would put a halt to the 49ers movement and force them to punt.
With good field position, Stafford found Kupp for his second catch of the game for a seven yard gain and a first down.
Score: Rams 3, 49ers 0
Following a five yard loss on a Sony Michel run attempt, Stafford found Kupp again for a first down on a 16 yard reception. LA got some help from the 49ers when Dre Greenlaw was called for unnecessary roughness on a tackle against Van Jefferson. A seven yard pass to Kupp on a third down put the ball at the two yard line—just a yard short of the first down. On the next play Stafford found a sneaky Tyler Higbee in the back of the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. Stafford had been nearly perfect at this point—going 11 of 12 for 123 yards, Kupp already with four receptions and 76 yards.
Garoppolo's next series was completely destroyed by LA’s defensive front. On first down, A’Shawn Robinson knocked the ball out of Garoppolo’s hands that ended in a 14 yard sack. That was followed up with a sack from Troy Reeder and a tackle for a loss by Aaron Donald. On the punt, Powell put his team in a scoring position with a 31 yard return. Stafford followed it up with one of his most elite throws on the season that was caught by Higbee for his second touchdown of the game.
With the Rams leading big in the first half, the 49ers started their next drive with an awkward incompletion on a designed screen. That was followed up with a first down on an eight yard reception to Jauan Jennings and a 13 yard run by Eli Mitchell, but ended on an interception by Taylor Rapp.
LA could not get much going after Rapp’s turnover. After picking up the initial first down, a sack on third-and-1 put Johnny Hekker on the field for the first time.
Garoppolo found Brandon Aiyuk for a quick 19 yard gain on the first play of the drive, then found him again a few plays later for 26 yards. It was just enough to get Robbie Gould into position and put three points up on the board right before the half.
Score: Rams 17, 49ers 3
After getting things going before the end of regulation in the first half the offense for the 49ers continued to show signs of life. Garoppolo faced pressure down the middle by Donald but somehow managed to find for a 13 yard pass. Aiyuk was left wide open on the next play, which turned into a 31 yard gain. Samuel, who had been kept quiet for the most part thus far, ran it in for a 16 yard touchdown.
Despite early success in the pass game, McVay came out of the first half with every intention of unleashing a physical run game. The did not pan-out well, however. Sony Michel had gains of three and one, setting up a third-and-6. The visiting team unleashed an all-out blitz which forced Stafford into throwing earlier than he would have wanted. His pass fell incomplete.
The 49ers offense, on the other hand, did start to begin to have success running the ball. Their drive started with ten straight rushes. The one throw of the drive was a pass from Samuel to a wide open Jennings on a designed trick play that went for a touchdown. After a strong showing in the first half, LA’s defense looked sluggish and gassed in the second.
Things continued to unwind for LA on their next offensive possession. The first play of the drive was a sack, the second an incomplete pass, and then the third an interception on a deep ball intended to Ben Skowronek.
The defense for the Rams finally made a stand and forced San Francisco into a three-and-out.
Score: Rams 17, 49ers 17
Stafford’s second completion of the half was a much needed third down completion to V. Jefferson that went for the first down and a 24 yard gain. With the Rams playing one-dimensionally, San Francisco got their fourth sack of the game and ended any hope of LA taking the lead.
Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme continued to put the Rams defense out of sorts. Samuel took a WR screen 32 yards with defenders draped around him. On a third-and-4, Aiyuk was left wide open for a huge first down. Ramsey then made possibly the play of the game when he juggled a contended pass and came away with an incredible interception in his own end zone.
Kupp got the first carry of the drive and took his first rushing attempt 18 yards to give the Rams some breathing room. He gave them even more room space on an impressive catch that went for 30 yards. A facemask penalty on the 49ers got LA to the 23 yard line. Michel had his best gain of the game and took his attempt 17 yards—a run set up by a Kupp block. An injured Stafford found his favorite target for a four yard touchdown, all of which was set up by Ramsey’s huge interception.
With LA’s stars suddenly shining bright through the shadows of a disastrous second half, it was Von Miller’s turn to make a statement. The veteran showed elite speed on the corner and tackled Garoppolo for the sack and a nine yard loss.
Three rushes by Los Angeles ended in a three-and-out. The 49ers got the ball back at the 12 yard line with 1:34 left in the game and no timeouts to stop the clock. They quickly made their way down to the 19 yard line with 34 seconds left after some miscues on the Rams defense in coverage. Garoppolo the found a wide open Jennings for the game-tying touchdown.
Score: Rams 24, 49ers 24
With the game needing more time to be decided between the two NFC West rivals, the 49ers won the coin flip to start overtime. They continued to bully the Rams front line with physical runs that lead to good gains. LA’s first opportunity to stop SF on a third down turned into disaster as Jennings took a pass for 34 yards. Their second attempt was not good either, as Jennings got the first down with a nine yard gain. On third-and-goal at the LA 7, Garoppolo's throw went for just a yard. Gould’s 24 yard field goal attempt was good, giving the 49ers the lead but the Rams a chance.
With no timeouts left to use and 2:45 left on the clock, Stafford and company took to the field for what would be their last drive of the game. On a third-and-10 Stafford missed Kupp for the first down, but got the flag for pass interference and a fresh set-of-downs. A Stafford interception ended the game.
Final Score: 49ers 27, Rams 24