Rams score vs. 49ers: San Francisco lands playoff ticket with thrilling overtime win over Los Angeles


The San Francisco 49ers clinched their playoff ticket on Sunday, beating the Los Angeles Rams, 27-24, in overtime. It marked the 49ers’ sixth straight victory over the Rams and also brought 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 field goal from Robbie Gould who ultimately won the game. Matthew Stafford and Co. took a 17-point lead in the first half thanks to a pair of Tyler Higbee touchdowns to accompany a field goal. However, the momentum changed in the third quarter when San Francisco scored 14 unanswered points. Stafford made 15 assists in the first half with just one incomplete, but failed to make a single pass in the third quarter.

Jimmy Garoppolo suffers from a thumb injury that forced him to miss last week’s victory over the Houston Texans, but he returned to the starting lineup on Sunday and completed 23 of 32 passes for 316 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He relied on his playmakers to take charge, 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 at Jauan Jennings, who caught six passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Aiyuk also made several big plays, catching six passes for 107 yards.

The outcome of that NFC West game had massive playoff implications. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly happened in Inglewood on Sunday.

Why the 49ers won

No matter what you think of Garoppolo, the 49ers are contenders because of their offensive line and playmakers. Even without star left tackle Trent Williams, that attacking front has been effective in paving the way for Elijah Mitchell and Samuel to lead 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, shone with 95 yards on four catches, Aiyuk led the group with 107 yards on six catches, but there was also Jennings, who had a career day with 94 yards and two touchdowns on six catches. He made an impact on the field and also fought for extra yards. Do the 49ers now have a wide “big three”? What’s also impressive is that this unit grew stronger as George Kittle was held in check with 10 yards of five catches.

The 49ers’ defense – especially up front – also deserves credit for this victory, but San Fran playmakers titled the victory.

Why the Rams lost

When the Rams roll, they truly are one of the best teams in the NFL. Unfortunately, they go through spells where they completely collapse. Stafford holds the ball too long and takes sacks he shouldn’t take. How do you go through an entire shift without completing a single passage? Stafford isn’t the only one to be blamed on Sunday, as the defense struggled at pivotal points as well. The 49ers never had a problem getting the ball straight into the Rams’ throats, and then LA sort of had a blanket failure in the red zone with 26 seconds left. Jennings’ tying touchdown to send the game into overtime became far too easy.

With the return of Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. and Cam Akers, this Rams team has the potential to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. However, they’re really going to have to focus on both sides of the ball. Being consistent and never taking your foot off the accelerator is imperative in the playoffs.

Turning

Ambry Thomas made the winning interception in overtime. On the first and 10, Stafford looked to join Beckham in the far right side of the field, but appeared to knock the ball over.

Game play

Halfway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers were rolling into enemy territory in an attempt to take their first lead of the game. Instead, Garoppolo threw a pass through heavy traffic, and he was knocked down several times before star cornerback Jalen Ramsey made an incredible interception.

Game statistics

Quotable

And after

The 49ers are officially the No. 6 seed in the NFC, and they will face the No. 3 Dallas Cowboys in the wild card round. As for the No. 4 seeded Rams, they will host the No. 5 rival of the Arizona Cardinals. The two went their separate ways this year, and a loss for the Cardinals on Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks gave the Rams the NFC West title.


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