By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Ram fans were only happy for about half the game last week as they jumped out to a 17-0 half time lead against San Francisco. Mathew Stafford had 3 touchdown passes on the day but the home team fell short 27-24 in front of 74,447 at SoFi Stadium.
It was the sixth loss in a row to the conference rival. There were some positives that came from the game. Cooper Kupp caught seven passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, wrapping up the statistical receiving Triple Crown by leading the league in all three categories. But Kupp came up short of single-season records for receptions and receiving yards. Teammate Tyler Higbee had 6 catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
Cam Akers made a comeback from a preseason achilles tendon injury. The running back played for the first time since pre-season. He only had a few touches resulting in 10 yards.
The overtime period came after Jalen Ramsey, Stafford and Kupp came to the Rams’ rescue after the 49ers wiped out a 17-point deficit. Ramsey made an athletic interception at the goal line to stop a 49ers threat and give the Rams the ball. That led to a 4-yard touchdown from Stafford to Kupp to put the Rams in the lead 24-17 with 2:29 to play.
San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo needed just 1:01 to march his team 88 yards down the field then connecting with Juaun Jennings to tie the game with 26 seconds left on the clock.
In overtime the Niners took the kickoff and rolled 69 yards in 12 plays to Gould’s third game-winning field goal against the Rams during his team’s six game win streak versus the Rams.
While winning the first division title of his 13-year NFL career Matthew Stafford passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
“There are some plays out there I want back,” Stafford said. “I guess (a division title) is nice. It means you get a home playoff game. But we would have rather won the game, for sure.”
San Francisco got on a roll in the second half of its schedule finishing the regular with a 7-2 record. The Rams (12-5). LA still won the division title anyway, due to Seattle’s 38-30 victory over Arizona who finished 11-6.
The sixth-seeded Niners will play at Dallas next Sunday afternoon, while the fourth-seeded Rams will host the Cardinals in the first playoff game in SoFi Stadium history next Monday night.
“This is a tough feeling,” coach Sean McVay said. “Our guys did a good job being able to navigate through the season. To be able to still win the division is a good accomplishment, but I don’t know that right now is the time to celebrate that.”
This was the first time McVay lost a game when leading at halftime. He had a 45-0 start to his career with the Rams. The winning streak with a halftime lead was the second-longest in NFL history, trailing only a 49-game run by Green Bay in the 1930s.
The Rams will have to go it without safety Jordan Fuller.
RAM NOTES: Retired safety Eddie Waddle is coming out of retirement for a playoff run with the Rams. He will be helping out since third year man Jordan fuller is out for the play-offs with an ankle injury. Fuller is a captain and defensive signal caller. Taylor Rapp is in concussion protocol.