ST. LOUIS, MO – The St. Louis Rams fall to 0-2 on the season as they drop a 17-16 heartbreaker to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday afternoon under the Dome in St. Louis.
The Rams struck first, taking advantage of a Brandon Williams fumble on a punt. The Rams got the ball at the San Francisco 25, taking it to the end zone in 6 plays, with Marc Bulger tossing a 12 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tory Holt. Jeff Wilkins’ extra point made it 7-0 for St. Louis. That’s how the 1st quarter ended with the 49ers knocking on the door with the ball on the St. Louis 1 yard line.
The 49ers took it in on the first play of the 2nd quarter. Frank Gore ran in from 1 yard out to cap a 6 play, 39 yard drive. Joe Nedney’s conversion tied the score at 7.
St. Louis responded with a Jeff Wilkins 27 yard field goal to put the finishing touches on an 11 play, 70 yard drive to put the Rams on top 10-7. The Rams put 3 more points on the board with less than 2 minutes to play in the half as Wilkins booted his second field goal of the day, this one from 29 yards out to cap a 10 play, 81 yard drive. The half ended with the Rams on top 13-7.
The Rams failed on an opportunity to add to their lead early in the 3rd quarter when they recovered a fumble and drove deep into San Francisco territory. Tory Holt caught a pass, and as he headed for the goal line, he fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback, giving the 49ers possession at their own 20.
San Francisco made that mistake count. On a 4th and 1 from the St. Louis 43, Frank Gore broke free and scampered into the end zone for his second TD of the afternoon, a run that put the exclamation point on a 9 play, 85 yard drive. Joe Nedney’s extra point gave the 49ers a 14-13 lead. They led by that 1 point margin as the 3rd quarter came to a close.
The Rams created a break for themselves early in the 4th quarter. Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan stripped the ball from quarterback Alex Smith’s hands and fell on to give the Rams the ball in San Francisco territory. Four plays later, Jeff Wilkins kicked his third field goal of the day, a 53 yard strike to put the Rams on top 16-14.
San Francisco then made a break of its own, with Marcus Hudson recovering a Dante Hall fumble on a punt return. Four plays after the fumble recovery, Joe Nedney split the uprights with a 40 yard field goal to give the 49ers a 17-16 lead.
The Rams had a chance to recapture the lead in the waning minutes of the game. An out of bounds kick off game the Rams the ball at their 40. St. Louis took the ball to the San Francisco 38 yard line, where, on 4th down, Jeff Wilkins attempted a 56 yard field goal that would have given the Rams the lead. But the attempt fell short, San Francisco regained control of the ball, and ran out the clock for a 1 point win.
St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger suffered bruised ribs in the game, but did not feel he was the victim of any cheap shots. He completed 24 of 41 passing attempts on the day for 368 yards. Isaac Bruce caught 8 passes for 145 yards. On the ground, Steven Jackson rushed for 60 yards in 21 attempts.
The Rams (0-2) head to Florida later this week where they’ll take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.