Rams vs. 49ers score: San Francisco punches ticket to playoffs with thrilling overtime win over Los Angeles
These two NFC West rivals played one of the games of the year in Week 18
The San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to the postseason Sunday, as they defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 27-24, in overtime. It marked the sixth straight victory for the 49ers over the Rams, and also knocked the Rams down from the No. 2 seed in the NFC to the No. 4 seed.
The 49ers' first lead came in overtime thanks to a Robbie Gould field goal that was the eventual game-winner. Matthew Stafford and Co. jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first half thanks to a pair of Tyler Higbee touchdown catches to go along with a field goal. However, momentum changed in the third quarter when San Francisco scored 14 unanswered points. Stafford completed 15 passes in the first half with just one incompletion, but failed to complete a single pass in the third quarter.
Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a thumb injury that forced him to miss last week's win over the Houston Texans, but he returned to the starting lineup Sunday and completed 23 of 32 passes for 316 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He relied on his playmakers to shoulder the load, and they did so successfully. Deebo Samuel caught four passes for 95 yards, rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown and also threw a touchdown to Jauan Jennings, who caught six passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Aiyuk made several big plays as well, as he caught six passes for 107 yards.
The result of this NFC West matchup had massive postseason implications. Let's take a deeper dive into what exactly went down in Inglewood on Sunday.
Why the 49ers won
No matter your thoughts on Garoppolo, the 49ers are contenders because of their offensive line and playmakers. Even without star left tackle Trent Williams, this offensive front was effective in paving the way for Elijah Mitchell and Samuel to run the ball. The two combined for 130 rushing yards. The wide receivers also had one of their best outings as a collective unit. Samuel, of course, shined with 95 yards on four catches, Aiyuk led the group with 107 yards on six catches, but then there was Jennings, who had a career day with 94 yards and two touchdowns on six catches. He made an impact downfield and also fought hard for extra yards. Do the 49ers now have a "big three" out wide? What's also impressive is that this unit stepped up while George Kittle was held in check with 10 yards on five catches.
The 49ers defense -- especially up front -- deserves credit for this win as well, but San Fran's playmakers headlined this victory.
Why the Rams lost
When the Rams are rolling, they are truly one of the best teams in the NFL. Unfortunately, they go through spells where they completely fall apart. Stafford holds onto the ball too long and takes sacks he shouldn't take. How do you go a whole quarter without completing one pass? Stafford is hardly the only one worthy of blame Sunday, as the defense struggled at pivotal points, too. The 49ers never had a problem running the ball straight down the Rams' throat, and then L.A. somehow had a coverage breakdown in the red zone with 26 seconds left in the game. Jennings' game-tying touchdown to send the match to overtime came much too easy.
With Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. and Cam Akers coming back, this Rams team has the potential to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium. However, they are really going to have to focus in on both sides of the ball. Being consistent and never lifting your foot off the gas are imperative in the postseason.
Ambry Thomas made the game-winning interception in overtime. On first-and-10, Stafford looked to hook up with Beckham deep down the right side of the field, but appeared to underthrow the ball.
Play of the game
Halfway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers were driving in enemy territory looking to take their first lead of the game. Instead, Garoppolo threw a pass into heavy traffic, and it was tipped several times before star cornerback Jalen Ramsey made an incredible interception.
Stat of the game
The 49ers are officially the No. 6 seed in the NFC, and they will take on the No. 3 seed Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round. As for the No. 4 seed Rams, they will host the rival No. 5 Arizona Cardinals. The two split the season series this year, and a Cardinals loss Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks gifted the NFC West title to the Rams.
that's a great tackle by Burgess in the middle of the field. Samuel one-on-one after the catch is scary. 3rd and 6!
I wonder if the holding going on is because of fatigue. This OLine has been busy paving lanes for Mitchell and Samuel today.
George Kittle got away with a hold there it looks like. Deebo Samuel now on the sideline getting looked at.
Matthew Stafford needs to not take sacks in that situation. The Rams should have something drawn up quick in that situation. I think that's on Stafford. He's been holding the ball too long lately.