Thursday night’s conference game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers was a great, technical, high-scoring game that turned into an exciting shootout between two teams trying to find their identities.
On a short week (three days rest instead of six) L.A. was playing their first road-game.
The Rams were coming off a loss to Washington. The Redskins won with their running game…and the Niners are a running team.
The teams wore their “color rush” uniforms.
I’m not a fan.
These single color uniforms look like Zentai spandex bodysuits and they make most heavyset players look like Teletubies.
The Rams color rush are all yellow with a few blue accents; like a bottle of French’s mustard.
S.F. received the kick and set up on their own 25-yardline to start the day.
Niners quarterback Brian Hoyer took the first snap, dropped back, and fired.
Rams Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted the ball and brought it back to the 3.
Running back Todd Gurley galloped in for the score.
S.F. scored on their next possession.
Rams QB Jared Goff led his offense across 75-yards of grass, on 8 plays for another Gurley TD.
The Niners fumbled on their next series, L.A. recovered and chalked up 3 on a 48-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal.
Gurley wasn’t done and scored on a two-yard rush in the final minute of the half.
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips shored up the holes in the “D” and the 49ers running game was neutralized. S.F. managed two more field goals.
Back from the locker room Hoyer had settled in. He became more proficient as the game progressed, and he wound up throwing for 332 yards.
At the top of the 3rd Quarter the teams traded scoring drives on five possessions.
L.A. received the kickoff: FG. Niners mount 75-yard drive: TD. Rams travel that same distance: TD.
S.F. started the 4th Q with a TD; but missed the point after.
Rams WR Sammy Watkins scored his second TD on a 13-yard pass, for a 41-26 lead.
But the 49ers were like a monster that won’t die…it just kept coming back.
They picked up 59-yards on a single pass, went “no-huddle” and crossed the goal line in three-plays.
That monster was hiding; and waiting.
And it struck.
L.A. fumbled the kick return, S.F. recovered, and the Niners stitched 29-yards for another TD, 41-39.
The 49ers tried for a 2-point conversion, but failed.
They attempted an onside kick…and recovered the ball.
Then, the scariest moment of the game.
WR Trent Taylor crossed the first down marker, peeled away from coverage, and caught a Hoyer pass. Taylor was downed at the edge of their kicker’s range; primed for the game winning field goal.
But the monster was killed by a yellow flag.
Some ref that has never watched a football game, called “offensive pass interference.”
Let’s be clear. There was no foul.
Taylor ran forward, broke to the outside, and left his coverage scrambling to catch up.
Neither angle showed anything resembling a “push-off” let alone “interference.”
The interference call itself was offensive.
I’ve pushed people harder at a church council meeting.
This was a concerted effort by the Rams to sell this to the ref…and they did.
The call stood.
Two plays later Hoyer was sacked by Rams Defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Goff knelt to victory.
The Rams showed marked improvement, playing well under pressure.
But there were too many extenuating circumstances (2-point PATS, bogus OPI calls, etc.)
The Rams face their biggest tests in the next few weeks when they play the Seahawks and the Cardinals, both conference rivals.
God Bless and watch your OPI’s.
Mark Felicetti has been known to push people. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.