Monday, November 12, 2012
Rams still coming to grips with rare tie
(Eds: Adds quotes, details. With AP Photos.)
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS -- Danny Amendola's first game in a month for the St. Louis Rams was a huge success. And that's without the 142 yards on a pair of big plays that were nullified by penalties.
A day after repeated mistakes cost the Rams an upset at San Francisco, the wide receiver said he'd try to take the positives out the NFL's first tie game in four years.
Easy to say, hard to swallow.
"It's frustrating," said Amendola, understating the obvious. "We made a lot of good plays. At the same time, we left a lot of plays out there."
Exaggerating just a bit, Amendola added: "It's just a long time to give it your everything. I mean, it's 5-6 hours long."
Well, maybe it seemed like that after leaving the field feeling curiously empty. The actual game time was 3 hours and 50 minutes.
Defensive end Chris Long said if fans kept their eyes on the field and disregarded the scoreboard, it would be easy to see the Rams took a major step forward against one of the NFL's top teams. They did it without a pair of rookie starters, too, with cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens suspended for the game for violating team rules.
Both players have been reinstated for this week's game against the New York Jets.
But with a wry chuckle, Long added that it's impossible to factor out the bottom line.
"Shoot, you know, we can be proud of the way we gave the effort, and like I said we went toe-to-toe with a team we have great respect for," Long said. "A tie, who knows what that means?"
What it leaves is a bad taste.
"I never had to think about it until now and I sure don't like it," Long said. "I think everybody on the field would have liked to have gone back out and just settled it."
Coming off a bye following a blowout loss to the Patriots in London, the Rams were much improved on offense with 458 yards and three touchdowns. But the defense failed to produce a turnover for the fourth straight game and faded late in regulation, allowing two touchdowns and a field goal on the 49ers' last three possessions in regulation with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick in place of injured Alex Smith.
Trailing 17-7, the 49ers scored two touchdowns in a span of 17 seconds, capitalizing on a lost fumble by rookie kickoff returner Isaiah Pead to take the lead when Frank Gore was untouched on a 20-yard run.
"If we can get them off the field there, bottle that kid up a little bit better, we wouldn't even be talking about this," Long said. "We had an opportunity to end that thing."
Sam Bradford threw for 275 yards with no interceptions and a pair of touchdowns, including a 2-yarder to Austin Pettis that put the Rams ahead 24-21 with 1:09 to go in regulation. But the strong numbers offered Bradford no sense of fulfillment.
"It's a weird feeling," Bradford said Sunday. "I think the mood in this locker room was disappointment."
The worst of it was reconciling all of those wasted opportunities.
Fisher blamed the delay of game penalty that nullified Greg Zuerlein's apparent game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime on rookie mistakes. Fisher called a timeout after second down to discuss the kick and tell players, "They will not ice you," because the 49ers were out of timeouts.
"So, get out there, get set, kick it through those two poles because we've got a plane waiting for us," Fisher said. "It's just unfortunate, just one of those things."
Both Zuerlein and holder Johnny Hekker, also the punter, are rookies.
Amendola was among the NFL leaders with 32 receptions before a collarbone injury sidelined him for four games, and he came back in top form with 11 catches for 102 yards. That's without a pair of would-be game-changers.
His 62-yard punt return to the 2 in the third quarter was nullified by a penalty for blocking above the waist on Justin Cole. His 80-yard reception on the first snap of overtime -- also to the 2 -- was wiped out because of an illegal formation.
Officials huddled after Amendola's 80-yard catch before throwing a flag because they didn't have a tight end on the left side of the line. Fisher had no complaint about the timing, saying, "They got it right."
Fisher was fine with the penalty on the punt return, too, saying it looked like a legal block from one angle but "from the angle where the official was, I can see where it was a block in the back."
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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