A win is a win, a loss is a loss, and a tie is just plain confusing.
The St Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers played through tough defenses, trick plays, missed Field Goals, time keeping errors, and a bunch of penalties to end the game in a 24-24 tie. The game ended as overtime expired on one last pass from Sam Bradford of the Rams to Brandon Gibson for 24 yards still being nearly 50 yards away from the end zone. Overtime consisted of missed field goals by both David Akers (41 yard miss) and Greg Zuerlein (58 yard miss). The last points scored in the contest were by David Akers of the 49ers kicking a 33 yard FG to tie the game leaving 3 seconds in regulation.
While all teams want to win their games, the 49ers and Rams play to the first tie in the NFL since November 16 of 2008 when the Eagles and the Bengals played to a 13-13 tie. 49ers are now 6-2-1 and the Rams are 3-5-1.
“I have to say, I’ve been doing this a while. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game like this,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “As I told our guys, we had a number of chances to put the game away. And, unfortunately, we didn’t.”
The Rams got off to an early start in this game scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter. After winning the coin toss, deferring possession, and holding the 49ers to a 3 and out, Sam Bradford threw a 36 yard TD pass to Brad Quick capping off a 66 yard drive. Bradford went 26/39 with 275 passing yards and 2 TD passes.
Then after forcing the 49ers to punt again, the Rams scored another TD with a 7 yard TD run by Steven Jackson. The 49ers had trouble with Jackson as he ran for 101 yards on 29 carries and that one TD. The other back for the Rams, Daryl Richardson, only ran it 7 times for 58 yards.
The 49ers didn’t get on the scoreboard until the middle of the 2nd quarter when Alex Smith threw a 14 yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree who managed to find his way into the end zone. That was Smith’s last play of the game, however, as he came out due to a concussion received possibly during a hit by Jo-Lonn Dunbar late in the first quarter. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is under the impression that it came from a QB sneak on a 4th and 1 play.
“From what I have been told by, uh, the doctors and the Trainers, it seems like it was the, uh, quarterback sneak,” said Harbaugh in the post game press conference.
Smith was done nonetheless going just 7/8 for 72 passing yards and that TD pass to Crabtree.
Colin Kaepernick then came into the game at QB and took the reins of the offense. He wasn’t effective immediately for the Red and Gold but came alive in the 4th quarter. After a late 3rd quarter FG by Zuerlein to give the Rams a 10 point lead, the 49ers got by a couple of bad fumbles by Kaepernick and managed to get to the St. Louis 7 for a 1st and goal. Kaepernick then managed to run the ball around the right end and scored a TD on a 7 yard run to get the deficit down to 3.
“Yes, I think Kaep did a very good job,” Harbaugh said of Colin Kaepernick’s performance against the Rams. ” and, uh, he came in good focus, good demeanor, made plays, and thought he handled himself, acquitted himself very well.”
Kaepernick finished the game at QB going 11/17 for 117 passing yards. He also ran the ball 8 times for 66 yards and that TD run. Kaepernick, however, did fumble the ball twice (no turnovers) and was sacked 3 times including a crucial point in OT that kept the 49ers out of field goal range.
After the Kaepernick TD run, Isaiah Pead of the Rams fumbled the kick return and it was picked up by Darcel McBath of the 49ers special teams. Frank Gore then took it in on a 20 yard TD run on the only play of the ensuing drive. Gore finished the day with 97 rushing yards and that TD run on 21 carries.
The Rams then got the ball back and managed to kill 7:14 of the clock as they scored a TD pass to Austin Petis for 2 yards. The 49ers got the ball back down by 3 points with 1:09 to go in the game. Kaepernick managed to led them downfield one more time for the game tying 33 yard FG by Akers.
Things just got weirder in overtime. The Rams had it first and initially seemed to seal the game up with a 80 yard pass to Danny Amendola being pushed out at the 49ers 2 yard line. It was called back, however, due to an illegal formation penalty on the Rams. St. Louis ended up punting the ball away.
The 49ers then get it managing to fight their way for a decent field goal spot for David Akers who ends up missing the 41 yard attempt wide left.
“I don’t know what to make of this,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. “We have one of the best kickers in the game, and it came down to him at the end and he misses it. That tells you right there something wasn’t right.”
The Rams managed to get it close enough to try a field goal but Greg Zuerlein missed a 58 yard field goal after making a 53 yard attempt that called back because of a delay of game penalty called on the Rams. The Rams committed 13 penalties during the game.
Both sides get the ball back for one more shot each but fail to get into kicking range again as the game ends in a tie.
“It feels weird,” 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. “We’re about wins around here.”
The one thing that was different about the 49ers this time was that they didn’t abandon their game plan when they fell behind. The 49ers ran the ball 34 times for 183 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. They stuck to their run heavy formula and put their faith in the defense.
As for St. Louis, the Rams played a tough game against the 49ers and showed them they can contend in the NFC West. The first glimpse of Jeff Fisher’s playbook fooled the 49ers a bit with a couple of trick pass plays by the Rams punter Johnny Hekker that got the Rams a couple of first downs. One of those trick passes from Hekker kept that 80 yard drive alive in the 4th quarter which led to the TD pass to Austin Petis.
While the 49ers and the Rams committed 20 penalties in all, the officials made a couple mistakes themselves with the most notable being the loss of 1:12 from the game when the time keeper failed to stop the clock during a measurement in the 2nd quarter.
If you are the 49ers, you take the tie and move on. Falling behind by 14 in the 1st quarter and having your starting QB knocked out of the game is already challenging enough. Considering that scenario, any team is lucky to escape without losing. The 49ers now look ahead to the Bears for a Monday Night game while wondering if Alex Smith will be able to come back in time.
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Written by Daniel Trucios