NFL Game Summary - San Francisco at St. Louis|
(Sunday, December 26th)
Final Score: St. Louis 25, San Francisco 17
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Sam Bradford has the Rams on the cusp of the
playoffs in his rookie season after throwing for 292 yards and a touchdown as
St. Louis defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 25-17, in a pivotal NFC West
Meanwhile, the 49ers fired head coach Mike Singletary later Sunday with one
game left in their dismal season.
The Rams (7-8) simply need to win in Seattle next week to capture the division
title and make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Seahawks lost
to Tampa Bay on Sunday, dropping them to 6-9 on the year, but can win the West
via a tiebreaker if they beat St. Louis next week, despite a sub-.500 record.
There has never been a division winner with a losing record in NFL history.
"I'm excited. When you set out at the beginning of the year you always want to
have the opportunity to make the playoffs. Here we are going into our last
regular season game and we control our own destiny," said Bradford, who broke
Peyton Manning's rookie record of 326 completions.
Josh Brown made all three of his field goal attempts, and Steven Jackson
rushed for a touchdown in the key victory.
The 49ers (5-10) were still alive for the division crown coming in and opted
to start Troy Smith at quarterback. Smith was intercepted once and threw for
just 153 yards -- most coming on a 60-yard TD to Michael Crabtree -- and was
benched early in the fourth quarter for Alex Smith.
Ted Ginn returned a punt for a touchdown in the loss, which was followed hours
later by Singletary's firing after two-plus seasons and an 18-22 record at the
Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will replace Singletary for San Francisco's
final game against Arizona.
In a release issued by the team, Singletary called coaching the 49ers one of
the greatest experiences of his life.
"What made it so special were the players," said Singletary, whose tenure
included a surprise 8-8 mark last year, followed by this season's wire-to-wire
disaster. "They were some of the most outstanding men I have ever been around
in my life."
The Rams extended their 15-14 lead early in the fourth, thanks in part to
Danario Alexander hauling in a 49-yard bomb down to the San Francisco three-
yard line. On the next play, Bradford threw across his body and hit Laurent
Robinson in the end zone with 9:36 to play.
In a last gasp effort to save the season -- and, perhaps, his job --
Singletary switched quarterbacks.
"Time was running out. I was trying to give Troy some opportunities to get on
track. Our offense just didn't seem to ever get in rhythm," Singletary said.
"The only thing I felt I could do was to go back to Alex (Smith) and stabilize
Alex Smith stepped in and completed all four of his attempts to get into field
goal range. Jeff Reed's 47-yard kick cut the deficit to 22-17 with 5:41
remaining, but Danny Amendola returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to the
49ers' 12, setting up Brown's 28-yard field goal.
Again the 49ers got across midfield, but this time Chris Long stripped Alex
Smith of the ball at the St. Louis 46. Rams defensive tackle Fred Robbins
recovered the fumble with 2:19 remaining, and the hosts chewed more than a
minute off the clock before punting.
With no timeouts left, the 49ers took over at their own 19 with 1:06 on the
clock. Robbins came up with a big sack with roughly 30 seconds to go, and
Ginn was tackled in-bounds on the final play at the St. Louis 44, officially
ending San Francisco's shot at the playoffs.
On the game's opening possession, 49ers cornerback Nate Clements was called
for pass interference to negate an interception and put the ball at the one-
yard line. From there, Jackson ran over several defenders for a 7-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Troy Smith was backed up in his own territory,
fumbled a shotgun snap and recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a
Patrick Willis then thwarted a promising Rams drive by forcing a Bradford
fumble, and San Francisco got on the board when no one got a hand on Ginn
during his 78-yard punt return 5:34 into the second quarter.
Brown made it 12-7 with a 43-yard field goal to conclude the ensuing drive,
but the visitors took the lead going into the break with another big play.
On 3rd-and-12 from his own 40, Troy Smith found Crabtree on a deep slant, and
the receiver broke free and added a stiff-arm on Rams safety Craig Dahl en
route to paydirt. The 60-yard TD accounted for nearly half of the 49ers'
yardage (126) the entire first half.
Troy Smith remained inconsistent early in the third, throwing a high pass near
midfield that was intercepted by Oshiomogho Atogwe. St. Louis converted the
turnover into a 30-yard Brown field goal with 9:39 remaining in the stanza.
Singletary and Troy Smith got into a heated discussion on the sideline
following the pick. The former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State stayed in
the game for the time being and guided the club into field goal range in the
final minute of the quarter, but Reed hooked a 34-yard try to the left.
In the release, Singletary called the 49ers coaches "professionals" and said
he wished the team "nothing but the best." He thanked the owners for giving
him an opportunity to coach in the NFL.
"I am indebted to them for that," Singletary said. "I am also thankful for the
faithful fans, I am just sorry I couldn't give them more."
The Rams have exceeded their win total from the previous three seasons
combined. They also snapped a five-game skid against the 49ers...Bradford
completed 28-of-37 passes...Alexander finished with 99 yards on six
receptions...Jackson was held to 48 yards on 24 carries...The 49ers have
not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 21 consecutive games...Brian Westbrook led
the 49ers in rushing with 40 yards on 10 carries...Crabtree ended with 122
yards on six catches...Troy Smith was just 7-of-19 through the air, while Alex
Smith was 10-of-15 for 120 yards...San Francisco cornerback Phillip Adams was
carted off the field after suffering a leg injury during the second-half
12/27 03:31:03 ET