It took 149 minutes and 34 seconds, or the equivalent of almost 10 full quarters, but a 54-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein finally produced a winner in the two NFC West games between the Rams and 49ers.
After tying at 24 on Nov. 11, Zuerlein also sent this game into overtime with a 53-yard field goal as time expired and then gave the Rams a 16-13 victory.
Most important, the win gave the Rams a 4-0-1 record in division games and inched them closer to .500 overall at 5-6-1. It might be a longshot, but starting Sunday in Buffalo, the Rams can push themselves into the race for an NFC wild card.
However, to a man, the Rams are just focused on the goal of winning the next game.
Asked about being back in the playoff chase, running back Steven Jackson said, "We went over that a couple weeks ago. We just said, 'Hey, don't try to look too far ahead.' Just try to win them one at a time, and the next challenge is Buffalo. Relax, recover, watch some film tonight or tomorrow, and move on."
Added defensive end Chris Long, "Consistency is going to be key. We need to go on a plane and try to win a football game next week. We need to put this one behind us. It's going to be great for a couple minutes, but we need to move on and get ready to play."
Concluding the shared thoughts was quarterback Sam Bradford, who said, "I think the focus of this team has been one game at a time from the beginning of the year. Regardless of whether we've won or lost the week before our focus has gone on to the next week and that's exactly what we're going to continue to do. Our focus now is going to Buffalo and getting another win."
They got the win over San Francisco with a swarming run defense that limited Frank Gore to 58 yards on 23 carries and held San Francisco to just six points after they scored a touchdown with 2:58 to play in the first quarter.
"Can't say enough about them," Bradfrod said of the defense. "They played great and it's just one of those things. I saw them before the game in the locker room, just their attitude, the way they were acting. They had their music on and I just got a sense that they were going to go out and play great today and sure enough that's exactly what they did. You can't say enough about them today."
On offense, it was a struggle for the Rams, but that’s what usually happens to teams that play the 49ers. It’s why they entered the game with the second-ranked defense in the league, allowing only 278.4 yards per game. The Rams finished with 293 including overtime and had 239 after four quarters.
Most important, the Rams had no turnovers, and even though running was difficult, they kept play-action in play by giving running back Steven Jackson the ball 21 times even though he gained just 48 yards.
Jackson had 13 yards on his first three attempts, and only two on his next nine.
“We knew it was going to be a tough day,” Jackson said. “We just had to continue to keep our composure to continue to be balanced as an offense. If they drop into zone, take advantage of what they gave us, and against the run, we try to be north and south as much as possible and grit out the tough yards.”
With wide receiver Danny Amendola inactive, rookie Chris Givens became the go-to receiver for Bradford. Givens was a target for 14 of Bradford's pass attempts, and while the deep ball wasn't there, he had 11 receptions for 92 yards. The biggest was a six-yard catch on a tough ball in overtime that produced a first down on third-and-3 and paved the way for the Rams to move into position for the game-winning field goal. Said Bradford, "That catch essentially won us the game."
Concluded coach Jeff Fisher, “It’s not easy against that defense, but we made plays when we needed to. Numbers aren’t pretty. We protected our quarterback. Sam used his legs in the last drive, which was good to see. He gave us a chance. Defense made some big plays when we needed them.
“We’re a young team that’s starting to learn how to win tough games. If you can keep it close, now you’ve got a chance to win every game.”
Bradford had runs of 11 and 14 yards and a 15-yard penalty on the 49ers moved the ball to the 49ers’ 40-yard line in the final drive of regulation that led to the game-tying field goal.
Said Bradford, “Schotty (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) is always talking to me about finding QB run lanes and going. That two-minute drill, they were playing a lot of two-man, there’s no one accounting for me. Just found some holes and made some plays.”