The Rams entered Sunday’s game against San Francisco as 13-point underdogs, coming off a 45-7 loss to New England in London before their bye and facing one of the best defenses in the NFL.
They exited with an inexplicable 24-24 tie, feeling almost worse than if they had lost, but knowing they played the most physical team on their schedule to a draw in a game they easily could have won.
Said quarterback Sam Bradford, “For us, after that one I think everyone in this locker room is pretty disappointed. You know, we had multiple opportunities to end the game, both in regulation and in overtime, and really just killed ourselves with penalties and things we did really to stop ourselves.
“When you have opportunities to win the game, multiple opportunities, it’s really frustrating to come out with a tie. You know it’s hard to win on the road in this league and we put ourselves in a position to do that today and (we) just didn’t come out with a win.”
As coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged, “We knew that we were playing a very good football team and we knew that it was going to be a physical game, that’s the way they are. For the most part I thought we went toe-to-toe with them. We made plays. We had production in a lot of different areas. We just didn’t win it, but we didn’t lose it either.”
The Rams return home to play the Jets next week, and will face the 49ers at home on Dec. 2. But, there are road games against Arizona, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Seattle still to come, and the Rams have still yet to win on the road. In losses to Detroit, Miami and San Francisco, the opportunities were there, but the Rams failed to close.
Sunday, they took a 24-21 lead with 1:09 to play, but couldn’t stop the 49ers as they drove 63 yards and sent the game to overtime with a field goal with three seconds left in regulation. I’m still trying to figure out why Fisher called a time out with 1:13 to play after the Rams moved the ball to the 2-yard line.
All that did was leave way too much time on the clock for the 49ers after the Rams scored the go-ahead touchdown on first down.
Although there were numerous issues that kept the Rams from winning, the fact was they were even in position to win.
Said running back Steven Jackson, who had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season, “We had a lot of things that we did well and we have a lot of things that we can learn from. The thing about the NFL is that you always have to get ready for next week.”
Jackson moved into second place on the franchise’s all-time list for all-purpose yards and yards from scrimmage with 127 yards Sunday (101 rushing, 26 receiving). Jackson passed wide receiver Torry Holt on both lists and is now behind only Isaac Bruce. Jackson has 13,724 scrimmage yards (535 behind Bruce) and 13,803 all-purpose yards (511 yards behind Bruce).
Fisher said of Jackson: “Steve is Steve. You saw the way he played, the way he ran, the passion that he plays with. Like I’ve said, I enjoy standing on the sideline watching him play. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Speaking of inexplicable: It’s difficult to digest that an 80-yard pass play from Bradford to wide receiver Danny Amendola on the first play of overtime was negated by an illegal formation penalty when receiver Brandon Gibson failed to be lined up on the line of scrimmage.
Then, there was the delay of game penalty that wiped out what would have been kicker Greg Zuerlein’s game-winning 53-yard field goal. Zuerlein then missed badly from 58 yards. Of course, Zuerlein never would have had that opportunity had 49ers kicker David Akers not missed a 41-yard field goal.
Fisher said, “There shouldn’t be a question as to whether or not you get a field goal off to win in overtime. Apparently (punter) Johnny (Hekker) just lost track of the time. That happens. We don’t want to say it’s OK, it’s certainly not OK, but he was focused on Greg and focused on protection and just lost track of it I guess.”
Hekker said, “Greg said he gave me the hand sign with four seconds. We’ve never had a snap, a nod to hand flash, take more than four seconds. I’m still kind of puzzled as to how that happened.”
Bad boys, bad boys: Fisher decided to have the team travel to San Francisco on Friday instead of Saturday, and that apparently led to whatever rule it was that wide receiver Chris Givens, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle Kellen Heard broke. It must have been fairly serious because Heard was released, while there’s no guarantee Givens and Jenkins will play against the Jets after being deactivated Sunday.
Fisher made the decision to sit the two starters on Saturday, and said, “As to whether they play next week or not, I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Praising Danny: Wide receiver Danny Amendola was targeted 12 times and caught 11 passes for 102 yards. He had the 80-yard pass play and a 62-yard punt return brought back by penalties.
Said Jackson, “You can’t say enough about him. You know he played his heart out today and made a lot of big plays for us. It just shows what we’ve missed the past couple of weeks with him in the slot. You know he did a great job at getting open. It feels good to have him back on the field.”
Added linebacker James Laurinaitis, “The guy is a warrior. He is tough as nails. He wants to compete. He’s a guy I’ll go to battle with any day of the week. Today proved how important he is to this squad.”