The Los Angeles Rams came into Sunday’s game as big underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers and while they didn’t pull off the stunning upset, they battled from start to finish and kept things interesting.
The Rams ultimately faded in the second half and fell, 30-23, at home to their division rivals – the ninth straight time they’ve lost to the 49ers in the regular season. The Rams’ final six possessions netted them three points after they put up 17 points on their first three drives.
The 49ers are one of the best teams in the league and they showed why on Sunday afternoon, playing exceptionally well on both sides of the ball. And they still put up 30 points despite Brock Purdy overthrowing receivers three times on potential touchdown passes.
Matthew Stafford had another solid day, though it went awry in the second half after completing 22 of his first 26 passes. With Cam Akers on the bench, Kyren Williams did his job as the starting running back, while Puka Nacua kept padding his stats with another 100-yard game.
The 49ers made their first drive of the game look easy, going 75 yards in 75 plays, which was capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey. However, the Rams came back with a field goal of their own on the ensuing possession.
The Rams scored points on each of their first three drives, which gave them eight straight scoring drives dating back to last week. The offense wasn’t lacking momentum whatsoever.
Kyren Williams looked every bit like a starting running back with Cam Akers benched, racking up 100 total yards and scoring two more touchdowns to bring his season total to four.
Puka Nacua is doing everything he can to fill the Cooper Kupp void, hauling in another 15 catches to bring his season total to 25. He’s been sensational this season, stepping up once again on Sunday.
Derion Kendrick had a little bit of a tough day, committing two penalties before halftime that allowed the 49ers to score a touchdown that tied the game at 17. He also showed poor effort on McCaffrey’s opening touchdown.
Matthew Stafford was almost perfect in this one until he threw a pass to Kyren Williams that went through his hands and into the arms of Isaiah Oliver. It was a perfect throw and a drop by Williams, but prior to that, Stafford was 22-for-26 with 209 yards passing.
The 49ers got the ball out relatively quickly throughout the game, which helped neutralize the Rams pass rush. Byron Young had a sack after Brock Purdy tried to scramble, but as a whole, the Rams struggled to pressure the quarterback.
Joe Noteboom left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury and did not return, which had a negative impact. The 49ers started generating much more pressure up the middle with Tremayne Anchrum Jr. at right guard, and even recorded the first sack allowed by the Rams this season.
Stafford’s interception late in the fourth quarter was a killer, giving the 49ers the ball in Rams territory with a 27-20 lead. They turned it into three points, all but putting the game away.
It was over when...
The Rams were trailing 27-20 at the time and had a chance to march down the field for a game-tying touchdown, but that was a knockout punch for San Francisco.
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
3 stars of the game
No. 3 star: Kyren Williams – 52 yards rushing, 48 yards receiving (6 catches), 2 TDs
No. 2 star: Matthew Stafford – 34-for-55, 307 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
No. 1 star: Puka Nacua – 15 catches, 147 yards (20 targets)
Play of the game
Williams’ first touchdown of the day was a perfect play design. He slipped out of the backfield and after Stafford faked like he was looking left, he came back to Williams, who caught the pass and followed two beautiful blocks by Coleman Shelton and Steve Avila into the end zone for six.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 17, 2023
The Rams get an extra day of rest this week as they’ll visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 3. No one expected the Rams to have a better record than the Bengals at this point in the season, but even this 0-2 Cincinnati team can’t be taken lightly, especially on the road.
Kickoff in that one will be at 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 25, a rematch of Super Bowl LVI.