The Los Angeles Rams allowed two touchdowns, an extra point and a two-point conversion in the final five minutes, six seconds, squandering a 14-point lead in a 22-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Saturday.
Colin Kaepernick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater with 31 seconds left then ran for the winning two-point conversion as San Francisco ended a franchise-record 13-game losing streak.
The Rams comeback hopes ended on the second play after the ensuing kickoff when Jared Goff threw his second interception of the game before a crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum announced at 83,656, many of whom were 49ers fans wearing red jerseys.
There were “a lot of reasons’’ for the loss, according to Goff.
It’s a collective effort, but ultimately, offensively, it’s been the story all year, we need to play better,’’ said Goff, who completed 11 of 24 passes for 90 yards, lows in all three categories in his six starts, all losses.
Our defense is pretty damn good when they’re off the field, and get some time and we’re not going three-and-out every time. Ultimately, the offense needs to play better — it starts with the quarterback, it starts with me. As the leader of the team, the leader of the offense, I need to be better — better than I was today, for sure.’’
Receiver Tavon Austin said the loss was the result of just making dumb mistakes like we’ve been doing previously, not making the big play when we need to.’’
Basically, just losing focus,’’ Austin said. I think we probably gave it up, and thought the game was over, but it wasn’t.’’
Seeking to end a five-game losing streak and a stretch of nine losses in 10 games, the Rams (4-11) took a 21-7 lead with 10:32 to play on Goff’s two- yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Tyler Higbee, four plays after Morgan Fox recovered Carlos Hyde’s fumble at the 49ers 25-yard line.
San Francisco (2-13) drove 75 yards on 13 plays on the ensuing series, with Kaepernick running 13 yards for the touchdown with 5:06 remaining. The Rams then punted after three plays for the fourth time in their first 13 possessions.
Kaepernick completed passes for five, 12 and 11 yards on the first three plays. His fourth pass was incomplete, but Rams cornerback Cody Davis was called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for his hit on receiver Jeremy Kerley, giving the 49ers a first down at the Rams 35-yard line.
Three completions by Kaepernick for 23 yards, sandwiched around a two- yard run by Shaun Draughn moved the ball to the Rams 10-yard line, where Kaepernick threw to Streater that cut the Ram lead to 21-20.
We kept fighting, this team kept fighting,” Kaepernick said after completing 28 of 38 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception in the 49ers first victory since defeating the Rams, 28-0, Sept. 12 in the season opener for both teams.
“Our defense had a great game today, gave us the opportunity to score early, gave us the ball back at the end of the game to give us opportunities to go score.”
The Rams were outgained 323 yards to 177 and trailed 21-13 in first downs and 31:03-28:57 in time of possession.
The Rams were held to 65 yards and seven first downs over the final three quarters.
The Ram offense was especially anemic in the third quarter, gaining 12 yards on 16 plays.
“In the third quarter we just couldn’t get anything going on offense,” interim coach John Fassel said. “I think our defense got tired and I think that caught up to us at the end of the game.”
The loss was reminiscent of the 14-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins Nov. 20, where the Rams allowed 14 points in the final 4:02.
Todd Gurley ran for 67 yards on 23 carries and a first-quarter touchdown for the Rams. He averaged 2.9 yards a carry, the fifth time this season he has averaged less than three yards per carry.
Kenny Britt caught a 15-yard pass on the Rams’ first possession to become the team’s first receiver to amass over 1,000 yards since Torry Holt finished the 2007 season with 1,189 yards.
Britt was a target three more times, but did not catch another pass. Britt has 68 catches for 1,002 yards on the season, setting career-highs in receptions and receiving yards.
Two of the first three touchdowns followed turnovers.
San Francisco opened the scoring on Kaepernick’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde, two plays after Tramaine Brock intercepted a Goff pass at the 49ers 44-yard line and returned it 39 yards to the Rams 17-yard line.
Rookie Pharoh Cooper returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to the Rams 48-yard line. Goff completed three of four passes for 44 yards, the last a 24- yarder to Lance Kendricks, advancing the ball to the 49ers 6-yard line. Two plays later, Gurley ran the final yard for the touchdown.
The Rams took a 14-7 lead on receiver Tavon Austin’s 30-yard run on a fly sweep, one play after Cody Davis intercepted a Kaepernick pass at the Rams 41-yard line and returned it 29 yards.
The Rams Pro Bowl-bound punter Johnny Hekker put four of his eight punts inside the 20-yard line, giving him an NFL record 50 for the season.
Hekker entered the game tied for the record with Dave Zastudil, who established the previous record on 112 punts with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. Hekker has punted 91 times this season.
“I’m proud of Johnny,” said Fassel, who remains as the Rams special teams coordinator in addition to being interim coach.
“He comes every day, he’s a leader, he’s tough, he’s good and the guys respect him. I love him and I’m proud of him. I wish we could’ve got a W to make it a little bit sweeter for Christmas.” The Rams made two quarterback sacks, meaning each defensive lineman and defensive line coach Mike Waufle will make a $200 donation to help fight homelessness in Los Angeles.
The Rams defensive line began the “Sack Homelessness” initiative in the 2012 season when the team was based in St. Louis. The program generated more than $200,000 in its first four seasons, a team official said.
— City News Service
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