The Rams have won two straight after a winless, five-game skid, and are 4-0-1 in the NFC West after beating the 49ers, 16-13, in overtime Sunday.
Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein tied it with a 53-yarder at the end of regulation. He won it with a 54-yarder in the final minute of OT. For the season, he’s 7 of 11 on field goals of 50-plus yards.
Zuerlein is a rookie; so are corner Janoris Jenkins and wideout Chris Givens. Jenkins scored his third touchdown in two weeks when he returned an errant pitch by Colin Kaepernick for a 2-yard touchdown. Givens caught 11 balls for 92 yards.
“Well, last week our ‘rooks’ made a lot of plays and they’ve been making plays,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We’re a young team that’s starting to learn how to win tough games. If you can keep it close, now you’ve got a chance to win every game.”
St. Louis improved to 5-6-1 while San Francisco fell to 8-3-1.
The Rams didn’t score an offensive touchdown, but they also didn’t commit a turnover against the league’s top defense. RB Steven Jackson had 117 yards from scrimmage, including a season-high 69 receiving yards, and Givens helped compensate for the absence of WR Danny Amendola. QB Sam Bradford overcame a few drops and led the team into field-goal range at the end of regulation and OT. Previous game's grade: B
The unit did a tremendous job against RB Frank Gore, holding him to 58 yards on 23 carries. LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar had a team-high 11 tackles, nine solo, plus half a sack. LB James Laurinaitis and Jenkins pressured Kaepernick into a third-quarter safety that broke the shutout and woke up the Rams. DL William Hayes had 1.5 sacks, and DE Eugene Sims notched his second career sack. The defense allowed San Francisco to convert 8 of 19 third downs and Kaepernick to break a 50-yard run late in regulation. Previous game's grade: A-
Special teams: A
Zuerlein’s heroics plus Johnny Hekker’s punting were the difference. Hekker averaged 43.1 yards and a 42.4-yard net on nine punts. He had a 63-yard punt and put three inside the 20-yard line. In OT, however, Hekker shanked one that set up the 49ers at midfield. Austin Pettis averaged nine yards on four punt returns. Previous game's grade: C+
Fisher’s 4th-down gamble backfired when he passed up a short field goal and Bradford’s end-zone throw fell incomplete, but it was worth taking a shot. He knew his team wouldn’t be getting many red-zone opportunities. The Rams have come back strong just when the season seemed to be slipping away, and now find themselves with a chance to finish over .500. Fisher and his staff deserve a healthy portion of the credit. Previous game's grade: A
Get more Rams updates and analysis from Larry Hartstein on Twitter @CBSRams.