NFL Final: St. Louis Rams Fall, 23-20, In Overtime

The St. Louis Rams hope to prove they can be taken seriously as division leaders in a division that isn't taken very seriously.

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NFL Scores: FINAL: St. Louis Rams Fall To San Francisco 49ers In Overtime

Sam Bradford’s fourth quarter heroics tied the game, but a crushing pass intereference call on third down in overtime brought the San Francisco 49ers into field goal range. Forced to punt on their drive, the Rams watched as the 49ers pulled the game out in overtime, 23-20.

Bradford’s game might have been his best of the season, even in the loss. He was 30-for-42 for 252 yards and a touchdown, including his 7-for-9 last-second drive in the fourth quarter. Brandon Gibson and Steven Jackson—who also picked up 81 yards and a touchdown on the ground—each had eight receptions, and Danny Amendola, who caught the touchdown, took seven himself. Laurent Robinson emerged as an option in the fourth quarter.

Once more the Rams’ offense found itself unable to put away a team that seemed to be reeling; Donnie Jones was forced to punt 10 times, and eventually the defense couldn’t hold the 49ers any longer.

The 49ers’ success came from an unlikely source—backup quarterback Troy Smith was 17-for-28 with 356 yards passing and a touchdown, victimizing the Rams defense for a number of big plays. Frank Gore carried the ball 22 times for 87 more yards.

The Rams, now 4-5, fall to second place in the NFC West following the Seattle Seahawks’ 36-18 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, who fall into a third-place tie with the 49ers at 3-6. The NFC West remains anybody’s game, but the Rams found themselves just short again in a division that only requires that extra push.


NFL Overtime: Sam Bradford Drives St. Louis Rams Downfield For Game-Tying Field Goal

The St. Louis Rams’ chances looked slim after allowing a San Francisco 49ers touchdown on a sloppy drive with just two minutes remaining, but rookie quarterback Sam Bradford caught fire, driving the Rams to a game-tying field goal with just three seconds left on the clock. Josh Brown picked up the 33-yard field goal, his second of the game.

Bradford was 7-for-9 in the drive, bringing his game totals to 29-for-41 with 248 yards passing and one touchdown. The move into field goal range came courtesy of Steven Jackson’s seventh reception, a season high, for 25 yards. Laurent Robinson, who had been invisible all game, also played a major role in the team’s quick, efficient field goal drive.

The Rams received the ball to open the overtime period. But they’ve already seen that Sam Bradford has no problem in pressure situations. The Seattle Seahawks’ win has become final—they beat the Arizona Cardinals 36-18 to improve to 5-4.


NFL Scores: Penalties Take Away, Giveth San Francisco 49ers 20-17 Lead

For a while it looked like a penalty would give the San Francisco 49ers the lead, and for a while after it looked like penalties would cost them the game. After a senseless face-masking penalty from the St. Louis Rams brought the 49ers an additional 15 yards, an offensive holding penalty led the 49ers to their second called-back touchdown pass of the afternoon. The 49ers were left at 4th-and-18 late in the drive.

But Troy Smith regrouped and threw another touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, and this one counted. Smith is now 17-for-28 with 356 yards and one touchdown, an astounding performance from a guy who was, up to this moment, the second-best quarterback named Smith on the 2-6 49ers’ roster.

The St. Louis Rams find themselves with two minutes left to score and remain in first place—the Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, lead the Arizona Cardinals 29-18 with five minutes left in their own fourth quarter. Sam Bradford is 23-for-33 with 193 yards and a touchdown at the two-minute warning.


NFL Update: San Francisco 49ers Touchdown Brought Back By Holding Penalty

The St. Louis Rams have struggled to stop Troy Smith all game—he’s 12-for-22 with 269 yards—but an offensive holding penalty on what would have been a game-tying touchdown kept the San Francisco 49ers from tying the game 17-17 in the fourth quarter.

The 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree came after Smith put together two passes to Delanie Walker for 45 yards, bringing the 49ers deep into Rams territory. But the holding penalty pushed the 49ers well out of the red zone, and they had to settle for a field goal, leaving the score 17-13.

Sam Bradford and the Rams will look to push their lead to two scores with nine minutes left in the game. Bradford is 21-for-30 with 173 yards passing and a touchdown. Running back Steven Jackson, who emerged as the offensive star of the third quarter, has 17 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown.

The Seattle Seahawks have pulled away from the Arizona Cardinals in other NFC West action, leading 29-10.


NFL Scores: Steven Jackson Begins To Heat Up, Runs 13 Yards For Touchdown

The St. Louis Rams regained their lead in San Francisco in the third quarter, thanks to a suddenly strong performance Steven Jackson. After earning just 23 rushing yards in the first half, Jackson now has 15 carries for 77 yards and the 13-yard touchdown run, as well as four receptions for 36 yards. The Rams’ 17-10 lead is their second of the afternoon; they opened the game up 3-0, but had trailed the 49ers ever since.

The Rams have gotten strong performances from Sam Bradford and his receivers as well. Bradford is 18-for-24 with 159 yards passing and one touchdown, in his second straight accurate performance. Danny Amendola has five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown, as well as two rushes for 12 yards. Brandon Gibson, who serves now as the Rams’ deep threat by default, has five receptions for 52 yards.

The Rams’ 17-10 lead comes with a little more than two minutes left in the third quarter. The Seattle Seahawks, with whom they’re tied for the NFC West lead at 4-4, lead the third-place Arizona Cardinals 23-10 with five minutes to go in the third but find themselves without starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.


NFL Injuries: Matt Hasselbeck Leaves Game After Scorching First Half

After an outstanding first-half in the first-place Seattle Seahawks’ game against the Arizona Cardinals—he was 17-for-23 with 273 yards and a touchdown—Matt Hasselbeck has left the game with an apparent injury to his left hand. Backup Charlie Whitehurst, who struggled in last week’s disastrous loss, came into the game to start the third quarter; he’s 2-for-3 with 29 yards and one interception.

The Seahawks continue to lead the game 17-10, and running back Justin Forsett—quiet all first half—has picked up four rushes for 54 yards, after he and Marshawn Lynch combined for just eight total rushing yards in the first half. A healthy running game will be key to any victory without Hasselbeck; Whitehurst, still spectacularly inexperienced at 28, will have trouble driving the Seahawks’ offense as thoroughly as Hasselbeck did.

This is Whitehurst’s fourth career game; his first two came in 2006, as a member of the San Diego Chargers, and he’s remained something of an enigma ever since. It’s tough being Philip Rivers’s backup.


NFL Halftime: St. Louis Rams, 49ers Tied; Seattle Seahawks Lead Arizona Cardinals 17-10

In the NFC West’s increasingly messy battle for leadership, nothing’s clear after the first half. The 4-4 St. Louis Rams and the 2-6 San Francisco 49ers are tied 10-10 in a game that’s seen a lot of big plays and a lot of hard-nosed defensive stops. Meanwhile, the 4-4 Seattle Seahawks and the 3-5 Arizona Cardinals are caught in an unlikely shootout, with the Seahawks leading 17-10.

The Rams’ defense has bent and often—but not always—broken, allowing some huge plays from Troy Smith, who’s 6-for-9 for 171 yards. Vernon Davis—two receptions for 70 yards—and Josh Morgan—one reception for 65—have been the primary beneficiaries of the Rams’ largesse. But a crucial goal-line stop kept the Niners to a field goal after that long Morgan pass.

The Rams’ offense has been solid but unspectacular. Sam Bradford is 11-for-16 with 110 yards passing and one touchdown, to Danny Amendola. Steven Jackson has struggled at times; he’s got 10 carries for 23 yards and two receptions for 17 more.

The Seahawks have built their lead on an outstanding performance from Matt Hasselbeck, returning to the lineup after missing last week’s disaster with a concussion. Hasselbeck is 17-for-23 with 273 yards and one touchdown. A running game with just eight total yards hasn’t managed to slow him down.

The Cardinals’ Derek Anderson has shown his usual facility with the big play; he’s 10-for-16 with 162 yards with an offense whose running game is similarly stifled. Tim Hightower has 11 carries for 33 yards and one touchdown.


St. Louis Rams Tie Game 10-10, Sam Bradford And Danny Amendola Connect For Touchdown

Sam Bradford and de facto number one wide receiver Danny Amendola put together a solid drive in the second quarter, punctuated by a series of San Francisco 49ers penalties and finished with a five-yard touchdown pass from Bradford to Amendola that tied this NFC West showdown 10-10.

Bradford, 10-for-14 for 93 yards and the touchdown, was 4-for-5 on the drive, with three passes of four completions going to Amendola, who broke a crucial short pass for 25 yards that got the Rams on the Niners’ 15-yard line. But three penalties, including a face masking call on an eight-yard completion to Brandon Gibson, were just as important in marching the Rams downfield. Two Bradford incompletions were wiped off the board on Defensive Offside and Roughing the Passer calls.

49ers Linebacker Travis LaBoy was called for the facemask and roughing the passer—he should be prepared to run some extra windsprints in the near future.

As the Rams tied the game, their rival Seattle Seahawks went up 17-10 on the Arizona Cardinals.


NFL Injuries: Rodger Saffold Hurt In St. Louis Rams' Second Quarter

St. Louis Rams rookie offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, a big part of Sam Bradford’s protection in his surprising 2010, has left the Rams’ game with the San Francisco 49ers after an injury that Turf Show Times’s commenters seemed justifiably concerned about. Renardo Foster, briefly a member of the UFL Florida Tuskers, has replaced Saffold in the interim.

Saffold left the field under his own power, which is good news. Saffold, a second-rounder in the 2010 NFL Draft, took the starting left tackle position from 2009 number-one overall Jason Smith, who was moved. The two of them now have their own handshake.

Currently there’s no word as to the nature or severity of Saffold’s injury. In Training Camp he dealt with a sprained knee that caused him to miss OTAs, and a minor back injury suffered after another player fell on him during practice.

For updates, follow SB Nation St. Louis and Turf Show Times, which will follow up with any news the Rams release.


NFL Scores: St. Louis Rams' Defense Prone To The Big Play, Rams Trail 49ers 10-3

Huge plays from the San Francisco 49ers left the St. Louis Rams’ defense reeling, but after four plays brought the Niners 84 yards to the Rams’ four-yard line the Niners had to settle for a field goal, putting them up 10-3.

After Troy Smith’s 64 yard completion to Josh Morgan, the 49ers picked up another 12-yard pass and a 23-yard run from Frank Gore. But Gore’s first-and-goal run was stopped for no gain, then two Troy Smith incompletions and a Delay of Game penalty left them on the eight-yard line. Joe Nedney completed a 26-yard field goal to cap the drive.

The 49ers’ offense looks to be firing on all cylinders right now. Smith is 4-for-6 for 118 yards passing, and Gore has six carries for 29 yards and a touchdown. But the Rams’ field goal stop here could prove to be crucial, if their heretofore sterling defense can buckle down on the road in San Francisco.


NFL Scores: Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals Tied 7-7 After First Quarter

The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, in a game that could determine whether the Seahawks are alone in first place or stuck in a three-way tie, are tied at 7 at the end of the first quarter.

Both maligned starters, Matt Hasselbeck and Derek Anderson, have looked pretty solid through one. Derek Anderson is 4-for-6 with 71 yards passing—the touchdown goes to Tim Hightower, who has six carries for 12 yards. Matt Hasselbeck, just back from a concussion, is 8-for-12 for 91 yards. (Marshawn Lynch, five carries for eight yards, has his touchdown.)

The first-place Seahawks, blown out two games in a row, have looked stronger so far; Hasselbeck completed a deep pass to tight end Chris Baker to open the second quarter, putting them well within Cardinals territory.

If the St. Louis Rams, who trail 7-3 at the end of their own first quarter, lose, and the Arizona Cardinals win, there could be a three-way tie atop the NFC West. At four wins and five losses.


St. Louis Rams Let Troy Smith, 49ers Go Deep Again, Trail 7-3

After a 64-yard bomb to Josh Morgan left the San Francisco 49ers at the one yard line a Frank Gore second-effort got them their first points of the afternoon, putting them up 7-3 on the first-place St. Louis Rams.

Troy Smith, who’s also been sacked twice, is now 2-for-2 for 97 yards, which is a strange line but impressive in its own way. His other long pass, 32 yards in a drive that led to a punt deep in Rams territory, was to tight end Vernon Davis. Alex Smith might have a hard time competing with it.

The Rams got the ball on the 26 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. They’ll look to Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson to get them back in the lead. Meanwhile, The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are tied at 7; maligned starters Matt Hasselbeck and Derek Anderson have each proven solid in the first quarter.


NFL Update: St. Louis Rams Score First, Go Up 3-0 On 49ers

The St. Louis Rams struck first in what could be a division-deciding matchup with the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, picking up a 42 yard field goal from Josh Brown on their first drive of the game. Sam Bradford was perfect, 5-for-5 for 41 yards to Steven Jackson and Brandon Gibson, but an offensive holding call on Rodger Saffold stopped the drive just in front of the red zone.

After Troy Smith and Vernon Davis connected for a 32-yard pass on the first play of the 49ers drive it looked like things could get high-scoring, but the Rams defense took it from there—Chris Long and James Laurinaitis harried Smith, combining for two sacks, and forcing a punt from inside the Rams’ own 40.

The Rams will look to establish the running game in subsequent drives—Jackson only had two rushes for three yards on their abbreviated first drive. But if Bradford can continue to show the accuracy he’s had since their October 31 victory over Carolina, he could prove to be the key.


NFL Schedule: First-Place St. Louis Rams Kick Off Full Week 10 NFC West Slate

The NFL schedule has dealt the St. Louis Rams an interesting hand in Week 10, coming off their bye week. They’ll head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers at 3:15, right as the other 4-4 NFC West leader, the Seattle Seahawks, find themselves in Arizona to take on the third-place Cardinals. The results could leave the Rams alone in first place and over .500 for the first time since Nov. 2006 — or they could vault the Cardinals into a three-way tie for first place. November relevance has rarely been weirder, or more welcome.

The Rams and the 49ers, each coming off their bye week, have had vastly different experiences with their franchise quarterbacks. Alex Smith will miss a second straight game in favor of Baltimore Ravens cast-off Troy Smith. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford will look to follow up his best performance of the season with another efficient, error-free game, despite enigmatic receiver Danario Alexander missing another game after a fifth surgery on his left knee stopped his rookie season in its tracks.

If the Cardinals and the 49ers win, the hapless NFC West will suddenly have three first-place squads at 4-5; if the Rams and Cardinals win, St. Louis will be alone in first place for the first time since Week 5 of the 2006 season, when they lost to the Seattle Seahawks to fall to 4-2.


NFC West Preview: Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals Tangle; Matt Hasselbeck Active

The NFC West will be active all at once come Sunday afternoon at 3:15—the first-place Seattle Seahawks will visit the Arizona Cardinals with Matt Hasselbeck medically cleared to return while the St. Louis Rams take on the last-place San Francisco 49ers.

Both teams are struggling with quarterback issues. The Cardinals have bounced between Derek Anderson and Max Hall all year—they’ve settled on Anderson, but only out of necessity. Larry Fitzgerald, stuck on four touchdowns after leading the NFL two seasons in a row with 12 and 13, has learned just how difficult life can be without Kurt Warner under center.

The Seahawks are dealing with the extended decline of Matt Hasselbeck, their starter since 2001. He’s 135-for-236 for 1411 yards, six touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 2010. But they discovered just how difficult life might be without him under center when backup Charlie Whitehurst was forced into the limelight after Hasselbeck, injured, couldn’t go. Whitehurst, making his first start since 2006, went 12-for-23 with 113 yards and two interceptions.

A Seahawks win would make sure they kept pace with the Rams, who could also move to 5-4 with a win; a Cardinals win and a Rams loss would leave the division knotted three ways at 4-5, with the 49ers a step behind at 3-6. Parity indeed.

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