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Rams Choke Away Another Lead – Lose in OT 23-20

The Rams traveled to Candlestick Park to play the San Francisco 49ers and the Rams looked exactly like the team that we saw on the road over the first half of the season. The Rams came out featuring the quick passes because the Rams offensive line was struggling against the 49ers impressive front seven in a 3-4 alignment. The 49ers offense was able to protect Troy Smith who was able to find big plays down the field. Troy Smith also stayed in the pocket too long waiting for his receivers, which allowed the Rams to get sacks on the former Heisman winning quarterback. But, Troy Smith was still able to get loose too often and burn the Rams defense with big plays down the field. The Rams again tried to salt away a lead in the 4th quarter away from home and failed in spectacular fashion in overtime.

Without support from the offensive line, Steven Jackson was unable to get going on the ground, so as the Rams featured the passing game as they were able to throw the ball to Steven Jackson. Brandon Gibson was able to get open downfield when Sam Bradford had the time and use his size and shiftiness. The Rams offensive line took another hit when rookie left tackle Rodger Saffold went down in the 2nd quarter with a ankle injury. He was replaced by Renardo Foster, who replaced Jason Smith at right tackle against Carolina.

Danny Amendola had a quick touchdown pass on a short throw after the 49ers repeatedly continued the Rams offensive drive with penalties. Sam Bradford remained in the pocket even though the 49ers defense was flying around him and he was able to hit his receivers when he needed to. The Rams were able to take the lead in the 3rd quarter on a Steven Jackson run in which he avoided a tackle and the backfield and bounced the ball to the outside for a touchdown run.

The Rams went into the 4th quarter leading by 7 with the ball inside the 49ers territory after the Rams linebacker Bryan Kehl partially blocked a punt. The Rams were not able to get anything out of that drive, but they did pin the 49ers inside the 10 yard line.

The Rams offense and coaching staff again put the onus on the Rams defense to protect the 7 point lead in the 4th quarter and the defense was again giving up big plays to the 49ers offense. The 49ers had a touchdown to Michael Crabtree, but it was nullified by a holding penalty and they had to settle for a field goal. The Rams offense again could not even get a first down on their next drive and went 3 and out before punting the football. The 49ers took advantage of the generosity of the Rams offense and used big plays to move the football down the field and converted a 4th and 18 as the Rams left Frank Gore uncovered on the play. That TD put the Rams down 20-17.

The Rams had two minutes to tie or win the game and Sam Bradford moved the Rams down the field with a lot of crucial throws including a long pass to Steven Jackson on a free play due to a 49ers offside. The Rams were able to drive the ball down to the 15 yard line, but a missed connection with Daniel Fells prevented the Rams from getting any closer.

The Rams offense looked just as lethargic on offense in the overtime as they did in the 4th quarter even though the Rams won the toss and got the ball first. Danny Amendola got the ball out to the 30 yard line on the kickoff, but a short pass, a stuffed run and a sack ended the Rams chances in this game as they punted back to the 49ers offense for the last time.
In a game with a hundred plus plays and twenty plus penalties, the game came down to one play and one penalty. The Rams had the 49ers offense stalled around midfield, but Troy Smith had enough strength to get out of two Rams pass rushers and throw up a prayer down field that no one had any chance to catch as it was at least 5 yards away from the receiver who flopped down as the ball hit the ground harmlessly. Atogwe was not looking for the ball and the receiver ran into Atogwe and the referees concluded that there was defensive pass interference. That ended the game for the Rams as the 49ers ran the ball three times and then kicked a short field goal for the win in overtime.

For all the talk about the Rams turning the corner over the bye week, nothing came of it. The Rams were the same team that played at Oakland and played at Tampa Bay. The Rams cannot continue to attempt to protect slim leads on the road against any one. It has come back to bite them for the 3rd time this season. Another road game, another come from ahead loss as the Rams lead by 7 and then 4 in the 4th quarter and were not able to hold the lead. This loss is as “gut punch” as they come with the Rams up 7 points for most of the 2nd half, but they were unable to put the 49ers away, even on 3rd and 32 and 4th and 18 plays.

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