First, the Rams gave away what looked like a sure win in overtime with a stupid penalty. Then the 49ers gave it right back with a missed field goal. And then the Rams gave it away yet again with another stupid penalty.
There won't be a much more odd game than the 24-24 tie the Rams and 49ers played to on Sunday.
The zaniness started in the first minute of overtime. The Rams had a first-and-goal inside the 10-yard line less than 30 seconds into overtime.
St. Louis hit a long pass to Danny Amendola on the first play of overtime and seemed sure to pull off the upset against the NFC West leaders. The only problem was, there was a flag on the other end of the field. The Rams were called for illegal formation. They needed seven men to line up on the line of scrimmage and only six did. The play was called all the way back.
San Francisco got the ball after the Rams punted and quickly moved into field-goal range for David Akers, who set a NFL record with 44 field goals last season and tied another record with a 63-yard field goal on opening day this season. The normally reliable Akers missed a 41-yard field goal wide left.
Then the Rams moved into field-goal range. Rookie Greg Zuerlein hit a 53-yard field goal … but wait. The Rams inexplicably, amazingly, took a delay of game penalty. Zuerlein, who has one of the strongest legs in the NFL, missed wide right after being moved back 5 yards.
The weirdness didn't start in overtime, either.
In the first half, the game clock was running during a measurement and 1:12 came off. The error wasn't realized until the next play had run, so the clock couldn't be set to the correct time.
"The clock operator upstairs who runs the stadium clock is responsible, but also the line judge on the field," former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereria said on Fox. "He's in charge of supervising the clock. He's at fault, too. But in reality, we always said in the NFL, there's seven line judges on the field. Everybody should be looking at the clock. Nobody should let an error like that be made."
The Rams will remember it as a very disappointing tie in which they had more mistakes than just the two brutal overtime penalties.
The Rams went out to a 14-0 lead, and led 17-7 in the fourth quarter. San Francisco was without starting quarterback Alex Smith, who was out with a concussion. But the 49ers scored a touchdown on backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick's run, and then Rams rookie Isaiah Pead fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Frank Gore's touchdown after that fumble gave San Francisco the lead.
The Rams rallied, but made a big clock management error before they regained the lead. St. Louis got a first down inside the 10-yard line, but Jeff Fisher strangely called a timeout with 1:13 left in regulation. The Rams had plenty of time to run four plays, but instead, the timeout gave the 49ers some extra time after a play-action 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis gave St. Louis the lead.
With the extra time, the 49ers drove and tied the game with three seconds in regulation. That was the last time either team scored, as the teams couldn't avoid the NFL's first tie since Cincinnati and Philadelphia ended with a tie in 2008.
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