Final

Rams 25

(0-1, 0-1 away)

49ers 28

(1-0, 1-0 home)

4:15 PM ET, September 11, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
STL 3 6 3 1325
SF 0 21 7 028

Top Performers

Passing: M. Bulger (STL) - 362 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: S. Jackson (STL) - 19 CAR, 60 YDS

Receiving: T. Holt (STL) - 10 REC, 125 YDS

Nolan wins debut as Niners D holds off Rams

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Mike Nolan left the locker room with no grin, no spring in his step, absolutely no indication his San Francisco 49ers had just shocked their oldest rivals in his head coaching debut.

The jubilant players in the room behind him -- and John York, the excited owner shaking his hand -- still knew something remarkable had just happened for the NFL's worst team in 2004.

Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle caught second-quarter touchdown passes from Tim Rattay, and Michael Adams intercepted Marc Bulger's pass in San Francisco territory with 52 seconds left as the 49ers hung on for a 28-25 victory Sunday over the St. Louis Rams.

After the 49ers barely preserved the win in the final minutes, the relief on the players' faces was as palpable as the excitement in the sellout crowd throughout an entertaining second half. Nolan is just getting started, but his new players already believe.

"Just getting rid of that stench from last year, taking advantage of this fresh start, that's what this game is," linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said. "To win in a game that's truly meaningful, that's great."

Rookie Otis Amey returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball for the 49ers, who erupted for 21 points in the second quarter -- more than last season's 2-14 team scored in any quarter of its wretched season.

The 49ers' defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes, but San Francisco held on for its first regular-season victory in regulation since Dec. 7, 2003. Both of the Niners' wins last season came in overtime against Arizona.

Rattay, who beat out top draft pick Alex Smith to retain his starting job, went 11-of-16 for 165 yards, but his offense was shut out in the final 25 minutes. The 49ers hung on with just enough defense -- Nolan's specialty in a long career as an assistant coach.

"I don't know what word describes it, but it's certainly a big win for our team," Nolan said. "I wasn't here last year, but I can only imagine the frustration they have."

It also was an emotional victory for a team coming off a tragic summer in which offensive lineman Thomas Herrion collapsed and died after a game Aug. 20 of heart disease.

While the Niners were poised in the final minutes, St. Louis coach Mike Martz knows he's in for another round of criticism of his strategies.

Brandon Manumaleuna caught a 6-yard TD pass from Bulger with 2:13 to play, capping a drive that seemed to move far too deliberately, with nonchalant players jogging to the line while time expired.

San Francisco ran just 53 seconds off the clock on its next drive, but Bulger threw a pass behind Isaac Bruce across the middle. Adams, the nickel back abused by the Rams all day, swiped the deflection out of Bruce's hands.

"It was a really bad call on my part on the interception," Martz said. "I wish we could have it back. It cost us the game. ... I put the quarterback and receiver in a tough jam. I feel sick."

Torry Holt caught 10 passes for 125 yards, but San Francisco's defense sacked Bulger seven times and limited Steven Jackson to 20 yards rushing after the first quarter.

With the Rams trailing, Bulger went 34-of-56 for 362 yards. The Rams were error-prone and inefficient, but they haven't lost their swagger.

"It goes to show that the best team doesn't always win," Holt said. "I think that we were the better team at times today, and the stats showed that we were the better team."

When Rattay hit Lloyd for a 35-yard TD midway through the second period, the receiver jumped up and started rapping, using the ball as his microphone.

Showtime was just starting in San Francisco: Amey, a Bay Area native and an undrafted free agent from Division I-AA Sacramento State, made a beautiful punt return for a score, swerving through the heart of St. Louis' coverage team before coasting to the finish, waving at his nearest pursuer.

The 49ers' defense also stiffened: Bryant Young, the veteran defensive tackle converted to end, had three sacks in the first half, equaling his entire total for last season.

Kevan Barlow rushed for a 9-yard score on San Francisco's first possession after halftime, but St. Louis pulled within 28-18 on Bruce's 29-yard TD catch with 13:22 to play.

Game notes


Amey was known as Fred throughout his college career and training camp, but decided last week he preferred to be called by his middle name, Otis. ... Morton got a concussion while making his 30-yard catch. He didn't return. He expects to play next week at Philadelphia. ... Jeff Wilkins kicked three of his four field goals in the first half.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
STL
SF
1st Downs2612
Passing 1st downs
1910
Rushing 1st downs
71
1st downs from penalties
01
3rd down efficiency
8-201-7
4th down efficiency
4-40-0
Total Plays8941
Total Yards405217
Yards per play4.65.3
Total Drives1011
Passing316183
Comp-Att
34-5613-18
Yards per pass
5.09.2
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks-Yards Lost
7-462-9
Rushing8934
Rushing Attempts
2621
Yards per rush
3.41.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-50-2
Penalties7-485-30
Turnovers12
Fumbles lost
02
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession39:2320:37

Passing Leaders

STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Bulger34/563626.5217-46
SFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rattay11/1616510.3202-9
Battle2/22713.5000-0

Rushing Leaders

STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson19603.2015
Faulk3124.0014
SFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Barlow14221.619
Gore4174.309

Receiving Leaders

STLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Holt1012512.5044
McDonald77310.4019
SFRECYDSAVGTDLG
Lloyd36521.7135
Battle55911.8121

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSTLSF
stlFG4:32Jeff Wilkins 22 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 21 yds, 2:17
30
SECOND QUARTERSTLSF
stlFG13:11Jeff Wilkins 33 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 63 yds, 10:40
60
sfTD9:52Brandon Lloyd, 35 yd pass from Tim Rattay (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 77 yds, 3:07
67
stlTD7:06Touchdown (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 2 yds, 2:10
614
sfTD1:19Arnaz Battle, 6 yd pass from Tim Rattay (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 36 yds, 1:59
621
stlFG0:01Jeff Wilkins 25 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 59 yds, 1:12
921
THIRD QUARTERSTLSF
sfTD11:39Kevan Barlow, 9 yd run (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 3:21
928
stlFG2:27Jeff Wilkins 33 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 17 plays, 56 yds, 8:59
1228
FOURTH QUARTERSTLSF
stlTD13:29Isaac Bruce, 29 yd pass from Marc Bulger
Drive info: 4 plays, 46 yds, 1:22
1828
stlTD2:16Brandon Manumaleuna, 6 yd pass from Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins kick is good)
Drive info: 18 plays, 62 yds, 5:38
2528