Rams hold off 49ers 41-39 in rare Thursday night thriller
By JOSH DUBOW, AP Pro Football Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — What many expected to be a typical Thursday night snoozer between a couple of teams lacking star power turned into quite a thriller.
With Jared Goff and Todd Gurley leading a resurgent Rams offense, Brian Hoyer sparking what had been a dormant San Francisco attack and a few late special teams blunders that almost produced an epic comeback, the 41-39 win for Los Angeles over the 49ers was exciting to watch and exhausting for those involved.
“That takes a toll on you,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Just getting ready on a short week, and then that emotional up-and-down right there certainly wears you out. I know that I’ll sleep very well tonight.”
With the short week to recover and game plan, Thursday night games have often turned into duds. That wasn’t the case in this game as even the many imperfections couldn’t overshadow the drama in the NFL’s highest-scoring Thursday contest since Minnesota’s 46-36 Thanksgiving win over Dallas in 1998.
There was Goff connecting on big pass plays to Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods on a night he threw for 292 yards, including three touchdowns and no interceptions for the Rams (2-1).
Hoyer did his part as well — after shaking off an interception on the first play from scrimmage. He threw for 332 yards and two scores, including key passes to Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin for the 49ers (0-3).
And there was plenty of drama after the Rams went ahead 41-26 with 8:43 to play on Goff’s 13-yard TD pass to Watkins .
The 49ers scored a few minutes later on a 3-yard pass to Trent Taylor, and then got another chance right away when Pharoh Brown fumbled the kickoff. Carlos Hyde then ran it in from the 1 on fourth down to make it 41-39 and set up a potential tying 2-point conversion.
The Niners needed to go for 2 because Robbie Gould had missed an extra point earlier in the fourth quarter. That proved costly when Troy Hill broke up the pass to Taylor on the 2-point try.
But San Francisco wasn’t done. The Niners recovered the ensuing onside kick, but after an offensive pass interference on Taylor wiped out a gain to Los Angeles’ 39, Aaron Donald ended the comeback with a fourth-down sack .
“It was a roller coaster,” Garcon said. “We played well, the guys fought hard, the special teams showed us and gave us those opportunities and on offense we just have to finish drives. That has been a thing for us all year. We are still figuring it out but we will move forward and get things figured out.”
Here’s what else stood out from the Rams dramatic win:
TOUCHDOWN TODD: Gurley had two TD runs and caught a touchdown pass, giving him six touchdowns through three weeks. That matches his entire total from 2016 and is the most for any player after three games since Calvin Johnson had six in 2010. Gurley also ran for 113 yards for his first 100-yard game since Dec. 13, 2015, against Detroit.
BY THE NUMBERS: With two 40-point performances in the first three weeks, the Rams have gone from the NFL’s lowest-scoring team a year ago to a dynamic threat. Their 107 points so far are the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by “The Greatest Show on Turf” squad with Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner in 2000.
“It feels good, feels good,” Gurley said. “We haven’t been able to put up points like that since Marshall and them left.”
The 49ers scored their most points in four seasons but still ended up on the losing end. They had won 50 straight games when scoring at least 39 points with the last loss coming in 1965 to Minnesota.
THIRD DOWN: A key part of the game was Los Angeles’ success on third down. The Rams converted 8 of 12 opportunities as San Francisco struggled to get off the field. All three of Goff’s touchdown passes came on third downs and Gurley iced the game with a 20-yard run on third-and-10 in the final minute.
INJURIES: The short week took its toll on several players who were forced to leave the game with injuries. Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner went down in the first half with a hamstring injury and center John Sullivan left with an injured groin in the second half.
Los Angeles also lost Watkins and Tavon Austin to concussions, and defensive lineman Michael Brockers also was in and out with injuries.
The game wasn’t any easier on the 49ers, who lost safety Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (neck), defensive lineman Tank Carradine (ankle) and linebacker Brock Coyle (concussion) to injuries in the second half.
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