"The Greatest Show on Turf," Super Bowl XXXIV and "The Tackle." Ask any St. Louis Rams fan who has endured the Rams' time in St. Louis, and it would be impossible for them to hold back a smile as they talk to you about those three things.
Fans do not need to be reminded of all the statistics and records that show how bad the history of Rams football has been in St. Louis.
There have been numerous head coaching changes, losing seasons and frustrations throughout the Rams' time in St. Louis, and only one season has ended with the team holding up the Lombardi Trophy. Sunday afternoon, though, as the Rams wore their throwback uniforms from that memorable Super Bowl season, fans finally had something to smile about again.
They no longer had to listen to the reasons why St. Louis lost. They no longer had to try to be content with the fact that the Rams competed with a good team, but still walked away with a loss. All of those things were just a memory on Sunday afternoon, because when the Rams walked off the field after nearly five quarters of battle with the San Francisco 49ers, they were victorious.
When the Rams traveled out to San Francisco a little under a month ago, the team showed great potential when they battled the 49ers all the way down to a 24-24 tie. The tie left a bitter feeling in the stomach of everyone involved, though. Sure, it was not a loss, but it was not a win either.
As overtime continued to wear on this Sunday afternoon, the game had the same feeling as the previous matchup. It felt like the Rams were not necessarily going to lose the game, but it also felt like they were not going to do enough to get the victory either.
The Rams had done just enough defensively to keep themselves alive, including a safety and a defensive touchdown by rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The offense could not get in rhythm, though. Bradford and the offense had trouble on third down especially, going 3-of-16 in the game.
After punter Johnny Hekker shanked a punt late in the overtime period, it felt as if things had finally slipped away from the Rams. The 49ers drove into field-goal range, but kicker David Akers could not convert from 51 yards away. The miss gave the Rams life, and it put the ball in the hands of their offense with one more chance to make it a successful afternoon in St. Louis.
Bradford drove the Rams into field-goal position, and the Rams left the game up to their rookie kicker, Greg Zuerlein. Coach Jeff Fisher ran enough time off the clock to make it nearly impossible for the 49ers to come back down the field if Zuerlein missed, but a miss still meant that the Rams would likely tie again with San Francisco.
"Legatron," as Zuerlein has become known, drilled the 54-yarder and sent the Edward Jones Dome into euphoria.
The win was not only great for this current Rams team, but it was also great for a franchise that has not had a winning season since 2003.
The win gave Rams fans everywhere hope. Hope that maybe this team is finally moving in the right direction. Hope that the coach who stood across from the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV could be the coach that leads them back to the promised land again.
There still may be a long way to go before that promised land is reached, but Fisher has built a tough defensive-minded team here in St. Louis that may not be as far from the postseason as we think.
One thing we do know, Jeff Fisher has made the Rams an exciting team to watch once again. Rams fans can not wait to see what their team will do next.
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