The Los Angeles Rams fell on Monday Night Football to the San Francisco 49ers, 24-9. Despite the 15-point loss, the Rams missed some opportunities on offense that would have given them a chance to win this game.
In a game such as this against the 49ers, it usually comes down to a handful of plays that decide who wins or loses. Here are three plays that changed the game in the Rams’ loss in primetime to their division rival.
(3:01 - 2nd QTR), 3rd-and-3 from SF 43
This season, the Rams defense had done a great job limiting the explosive play. That was not the case on Monday night. Both of the 49ers offensive touchdowns came on explosive plays. The second one was a backbreaker.
Deebo freaking Samuel. Just absolute insanity. pic.twitter.com/b0wVuUmRvL— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 4, 2022
With just three minutes to go in the half, it’s possible that the 49ers have to settle for a field goal or even have to punt if the Rams defense gets a stop. Instead, almost a big play one way, turned into a disaster the other way.
Derion Kendrick attempts to make a jump on the ball, but it’s poor technique. Kendrick needs to use his inside arm to punch the ball and use his outside arm to make the tackle. Instead, Kendrick uses his outside arm to go for the ball which puts him in a bad position to take down Deebo Samuel.
He comes really close to a pick-6 but misses. Taylor Rapp, Grant Haley, and Jalen Ramsey then proceed to miss tackles in the secondary. This play could have gone several different ways and it went the one way that was a complete disaster for the Rams.
On this play alone, the Rams went from having a 51 percent chance to win to having a 69 percent chance to lose. They were in a good position before this play. If the Rams are able to go into the half down 7-6 or even 10-6, it’s much better than what the reality ended up being.
(4:40 - 3rd QTR), 1st-and-Goal from SF 7
The Rams offense went 0-for-3 in the red zone on Monday Night against the 49ers. The 49ers defense is too good to not score touchdowns when you get the opportunity. It’s also hard to win division games on the road when you don’t capitalize on those chances.
Entering the third quarter, the Rams trailed the 49ers 14-6. The defense got a big stop coming out of the half, giving the offense an opportunity to go down and make it a closer game.
The Rams started from their own 18-yard line and converted a 4th-and-1 to keep the drive alive. Facing 1st-and-goal, Stafford had Higbee open in the flat. If he hits him in stride, it’s likely a touchdown. Instead, Stafford threw behind the Rams tight end in the face of pressure and the pass fell incomplete.
This was an opportunity for the offense to make it a 14-12 game at the very least. If they go for two and convert, it’s a tie ball game. Even if Higbee doesn’t get in, it’s closer to the goal line and would have made going for it on fourth down a possibility.
---> LA (6) @ SF (14) <---— 4th down decision bot (@ben_bot_baldwin) October 4, 2022
LA has 4th & 7 at the SF 7
Recommendation (MEDIUM): Field goal attempt (+1 WP)
Actual play: https://t.co/aUDNkbeaFo 26 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Orzech, Holder-R.Dixon. pic.twitter.com/6N6DzpsfYr
McVay made the right call to kick the field goal, but this was an opportunity to get in the end zone on a night when points were a premium.
(6:37 - 4th QTR), 1st-and-10 from SF 44
This is the play the sealed the deal for the 49ers. While winning the game was still a long-shot at this point, the Rams still had a chance and were driving. They had run five plays for 23 yards, leaving the door open for a classic Matthew Stafford fourth quarter comeback.
Unfortunately, Talanoa Hufanga jumped the screen to Kupp and took the ball the other way for a touchdown. Stafford’s 5.1 air yards per attempt ranked 31st in NFL for Week 4. The Rams offense couldn’t push the ball down the field which left things open for a cornerback or safety to jump a short route. On this play, that’s exactly what happened.
Common Matt Stafford Pick-6 pic.twitter.com/jvMsXYHVCR— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 4, 2022
The Rams only had a 21.3 percent chance to win the game at this point, but after the interception, the 49ers win percentage jumped up to 98.8 percent. Stafford needs to recognize the coverage and check out of this play. At the same time, it also just a great read by Hufanga.