After last Sunday's debacle in Dallas, St. Louis Rams fans thought it couldn't get any worse. They were wrong.
The Rams were dominated in every phase of the game, dropping a 35-11 decision to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Rams came out slinging, getting the ball up to midfield. Once again, however, they got behind the chains when they ran a stretch play right into the teeth of a stacked Niners defense. Then on Johnny Hekker's first punt of the night, the special teams unit committed their tenth penalty in 13 quarters. Not exactly the way the Rams wanted to open up.
The Niners were quickly in Rams territory with an offsides penalty and a swing pass. The Rams defense held though, forcing Phil Dawson to try one from 53, which he pushed off to the right.
The Rams took advantage of the good field position and moved the ball deep into San Francisco territory. Sam Bradford had Austin Pettis wide open on a seem route but missed him badly, forcing a Greg Zuerlein field goal. Zuerlein hit the upright, but caromed it in to put the Rams up 3-0, their first opening quarter lead of 2013.
Both defenses settled in for the remainder of the first quarter, forcing the offenses to trade punts. The Niners finally broke through midway through the second quarter when they began to isolate Anquan Boldin on Rams' CB Cortland Finnegan. Boldin beat Finnegan on a third and 11 from midfield to get the ball inside the red zone. Then, after a penalty put the Niners in a third and 19, Boldin torched Finnegan to the outside for a 22 yard score putting the Niners up 7-3.
Bradford got the Rams into Niners' territory again, but CB Tramaine Brock tipped a pass intended down the sideline. Safety Donte Whitner made an acrobatic grab in the end zone to give the Niners possession with just under four minutes left in the half.
Those four minutes were an utter disaster for the Rams. Frank Gore broke free on a fourth and one for a 34 yard touchdown run. That put the Niners up 14-3. On their ensuing series, Jake Long went down after getting his leg rolled up, leaving the Rams without either starting offensive tackle.
By the time the half-time gun mercifully sounded, the Niners had outrushed the Rams 105-16. The initial Rams flurry of energy appeared all but lost.
It appeared that the Rams defense had provide some of that energy when Alec Ogletree stripped Frank Gore near midfield. The Rams offense continued to stagnate though and Johnny Hekker punted after only three plays that gained nothing.
The Niners applied the death blow on their ensuing drive. San Francisco drove 88 yards in 11 plays and chewed up more than five minutes of the third quarter before Kaepernick found Vernon Davis on a crossing route for the touchdown. Adding injury to insult, safety TJ McDonald was carted off with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.
The Rams offense could go nowhere the entire third quarter, picking up a total of seven total yards. The Rams defense at least held their own so that the damage didn't get worse.
It did get worse after Sam Bradford fumbled inside his own 20 in the fourth quarter. The Niners recovered and Anthony Dixon waltzed in to make it 28 unanswered points by the Niners.
The Rams finally answered after a San Francisco fumble gave St. Louis a short field. Bradford found TE Lance Kendricks and Benny Cunningham rumbled in for the two point conversion making it 28-11.
The remainder of the details are irrelevant the Niners finally prevailed 35-11. Here are the ugly truths:
Johnny Hekker punted 11 times.
St. Louis surrendered over 200 yards on the ground while churning out only 22 yards themselves.
The Rams committed eight penalties, allowed five sacks and stunk in every facet of the game. For the second straight week, they were dominated in all phases..
With Jacksonville coming in in 10 days, the Rams have a lot to fix.
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