In going toe to toe with a San Francisco defense that has spent the better part of the past two years in the NFL penthouse when it comes to all pertinent defensive ranking, the Rams offense was well aware entering Sunday’s game that it was going to be tough sledding.
Adding to the fact that the 49ers already play great defense was the fact that the teams met just three weeks ago, leaving little room for much in the way of surprises for the Rams offense.
That put the onus on the Rams defense to find a way to match or better what the Niners defense was able to do. And in the team’s 16-13 overtime win, that’s exactly what happened.
“Can’t say enough about them,” quarterback
Perhaps there aren’t enough superlatives to describe the Rams defensive performance Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome but there are certainly plenty of examples of big plays, important stops and even scores to illuminate just how well the Rams defense played.
In a game where points were hard to come by, it was the defense that found a way to contribute exactly half the team’s 16 points. None of those were bigger than the 2-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by cornerback
After weeks of talking about a ball finally bouncing their way, it finally did at the most opportune of times when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s pitch to Ted Ginn Jr. flew wide.
Jenkins swooped in and grabbed it as he rolled into the end zone for the team’s lone touchdown.
“Thank you,” linebacker
The defense also forced a safety when linebacker
While the Niners finished with 339 yards, they didn’t generate much offense at all after their initial scoring drive.
The biggest reason for the drought was the complete shutdown of San Francisco running back Frank Gore. Following a 23-yard run early in the game, Gore was unable to get much of anything on the ground. In fact, he finished with 58 yards on 23 carries, an average of just 2.5 yards and that includes the long run early in the game.
“I think we have had that in us,” end
Speaking of quarterback runs, it was Kaepernick’s ability to make plays with his legs that had the Rams worried for most of the week. He had a huge 50-yard run to give the Niners the lead near the end of regulation. Otherwise, the Rams appeared far more prepared for Kaepernick’s dual threat ability and kept him in check for eight carries and 34 yards not including the long run.
Even after the long run, the Rams defense bowed up and held the Niners to a field goal.
“We were prepared for him,” Laurinaitis said. “The first time, we weren’t. We let him get outside and break through. This time, we were prepared for him and knew he was going to do that. The one time he got us, we pressured. We were in zone pressure, and it was one of those things where they had the perfect protection for the wrong call for us and he took off and made a play. We were just glad to be able to get them down and kick a field goal.”
All told, it was one of the best performances by the Rams defense this season on a day when it was needed most
“As a team, that’s maybe the best that we’ve played,” Long said. “Just in that we were able to score points. On days when the offense isn’t clicking the way they want to exactly…hey, the offense made some plays when they had to. Hats off to our guys, and they kept fighting. But you know, on days like that, we have to pick up the slack and try to make a play or two. We have to take the ball away and we did that and we were able to get the win.”
GIVENS FILLS THE VOID: With receiver
Known for his ability to make plays with the deep ball, rookie wideout
While that performance will severely hamper Givens’ eye popping yards per catch numbers entering the game, he certainly wasn’t complaining.
“I just went out there and took advantage of all the mismatches and go out there and run the plays Coach calls,” Givens said. “I’m the type of athlete who’s going to go out there and give it all he’s got each Sunday, and that’s what I did.”
Never was that more evident than a huge play Givens made on the team’s final possession in overtime. On third-and-3 from the Rams 48, Bradford fired to Givens but it was on his back hip and Givens extended to make a huge catch for 6 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.
“He’s come a long way and I’ve said it every week, I think he’s gotten better each week. I think he showed it today,” Bradford said. “I don’t know what his numbers were but that catch essentially won us the game. If he doesn’t make that then we probably don’t convert. It was third down so we probably had a shot on fourth, but just to keep the drive alive with that catch, it was outstanding.”
JACKSON’S DAY: Running back
Jackson finished with 48 yards on 21 carries on the ground but was a terror in the pass game with five catches for 69 yards. And in the run game, he made big plays late to help put the Rams in position for the winning field goal.
“Just a typical day at the office,” Jackson said. “Tough day. Continue to just grind and when my number’s called, be who I am. It’s not about stats at this point in my career. At this point in my career, I want to win and that’s what’s most important.”
AMENDOLA SITS, QUINN PLAYS: Entering the game, the status of Amendola (foot) and end
Amendola didn’t practice all week and was listed as doubtful but that was the same scenario last week when he ended up playing on a limited basis in Arizona.
This time around, the Rams didn’t even push it as Amendola sat out Sunday’s game.
“(He was) just not quite ready,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We’ll just see how he is during the week. We didn’t do anything (pre-game). We were resting him.”
Quinn, on the other hand, did some individual work on Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. He said he passed all of the tests between Friday and Saturday. He played on a limited basis Sunday as he bounced back.
“Friday, Saturday. I passed the test,” Quinn said. “We took it slowly to make sure I was all right. Of course my health was the most important thing and I guess I did enough to get cleared today for my little bit of plays to contribute out there.”