San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams: Bradford and Rams Close in on NFC West

Bear Heiser@@BearHeiserFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2010

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 26: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes against the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the 49ers 25-17. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Admit it, part of you thought the Rams would find a way to blow it in the fourth quarter. I'll admit it, I'm not embarressed to say that I thought Pat Shurmur and Steve Spagnuolo would "prevent" the Rams from victory, pun intended.

But this game was different, the Rams held on for a 25-17 win. We saw playmakers actually make plays, which is something that hasn't much happened this season. O.J. Atogwe had a huge interception, Danny Amendola ran a kick back for 84 yards and James Hall sacked Troy Smith for a safety. If these guys keep stepping up, the Rams could be trouble come playoff time.

Here's what I liked about the game. 

James Hall's fearless play on defense

Hall dominated all comers for four quarters. He sacked the quarterback 1.5 times, recorded a safety and had an impressive two tackles for a loss. The Rams' defense would be lost without him. 

How Sam Bradford bounced off the rookie wall

It was just last week that I asked the question: Has Sam Bradford hit the rookie wall? I think we have our answer. Sam completed 28 of 37 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown. 

His 15th game of the season may have been his best. 

Everything about Danny Amendola

Amendola finally got the kick-return game going for the Rams. He ran back five kicks for 177 yards which set the team up with great field position on multiple occasions. But that wasn't his only contribution as Dangerous Danny caught a team-high eight passes. 

What I Didn't Like:

How easily the 49ers moved the ball on third and long.

The situation: Niners second touchdown drive (2nd Q)

On third and 13 on the SF 17, Troy Smith scrambled out of the pocked and found Vernon Davis for 25 yards, keeping the drive alive. Then just three plays later the Niners were faced with a third and 12 on the SF 40, when Troy Smith, once again, scrambled and found Michael Crabtree for a 60 yard score. 

What it means: The Rams defense has struggled all season against quarterbacks who can move the pocket. All six NFC playoff teams have mobile quarterbacks. This is something that needs to be addressed. 

Wide receivers pulling out of their routes early when they hear footsteps and drop passes. 

Yeah Brandon Gibson, I'm talking to you!

Offensive play-calling late in the fourth quarter

The situation: Rams lead 22-17 with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter

After an 84 yard kickoff return by Danny Amendola to the SF 12 yard line, the Rams called Steven Jackson's number three times for a whopping two yards. 

What it means: Once again, Pat Shurmur played it safe with a lead in the fourth quarter by settling for a field goal and extending the lead to eight points. I don't understand why they didn't try to score a game-sealing touchdown. Babying Sam Bradford is not going to help the Rams once they get to the playoffs, so please STOP!


Be on the lookout for my interview with for St. Louis Rams' WR Isaac Bruce. 

Up next: Week 17 at Seattle

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