Rams’ NFC West title spoiled by yet another bitter loss to the 49ers – NFL Nation

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INGLEWOOD, California – Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay sprinted along the sidelines, eager to attend his player’s party.

It was late in the first half of the regular season finale, and tight-end Tyler Higbee just caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a commanding 17-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers.

McVay hit receiver Cooper Kupp’s helmet, then gave Higbee a heady high-five before an official ordered him to return to the sidelines.

So quickly, McVay and the Rams seemed to believe, perhaps for valid reason, that they were on track to win NFC West, earn No. 2 in the conference and defeat their divisional rival for the first time in six attempts.

But at the end of overtime, cornerback Jalen Ramsey sat alone on the team bench and seemed downcast as a banner lit up over his head highlighting the Rams’ newly won NFC West championship.

The problem was that they lost to rival 49ers once again, blowing the 17-point lead to fall 27-24 in overtime as a stronghold of fans dressed in red celebrated the 49ers’ victory and the wildcard playoff spot.

But because the Seattle Seahawks (7-10) defeated the Arizona Cardinals (11-6) minutes before, the 12-5 Rams still won the division title.

“Right now it’s a tough feeling,” said a frustrated McVay, whose streak of 43 wins without a loss as the lead at the break came to a shaky end. “Our guys did a good job of being able to navigate through the season and still win the division. It’s a good performance, but I do not know that right now is a good time to celebrate it.”

“No,” Ramsey said, interrupting a question as to whether a silver lining existed despite the disappointment of how the regular season finale ended.

Rams need to regroup quickly. As the No. 4 seed, they will host the No. 5 Cardinals, with whom they share the regular season – each team wins along the way – in a wild-card game next week on Monday Night Football.

“You do not want to take for granted the difficulty of winning a division title, but at the same time a loss never feels good,” said Kupp, who received the NFL’s “triple crown” as league leader in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and touchdown- receptions (16). “The focus is really on getting ready for next week, being able to react from this thing, watching the movie, making the changes we need and being ready to react with a great week of training and playing a very good Cardinals hold. “

The Green Bay Packers earned the NFC’s overall seed and a farewell in the first round, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys took No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, thanks to the Rams’ losses.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford did not console himself on Sunday despite his first division title in 13 NFL seasons.

“I think it’s nice,” Stafford said. “That means you get a home playoff match, but of course you’d rather have won the match for sure.”

Stafford led the quick start, directing a flawless effort in the first half that included completing 15 of 16 passes in 153 yards and two touchdown passes to Higbee.

The offense – which only produced 14 rushing yards in the first half – however, began to stall out of the break.

Stafford finished 21-of-32 for 238 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions – marking his third game in a row with more interceptions and his sixth game with more turnovers this season.

The Niners closed out Sunday’s victory as cornerback Ambry Thomas picked up a deep pass late in overtime intended for Odell Beckham Jr.

“I just kept it short,” said Stafford, who the Rams acquired in a magnificent offseason trade behind the idea that he would be the last piece needed to win the Super Bowl LVI at their home stadium in February. 13.

Stafford did not get much help from the ground play as the Rams rushed just 64 yards behind Sony Michel and Cam Akers, who made his season debut less than six months after getting a torn right Achilles tendon.

Defensively, the Rams held the Niners to 83 yards in the first half, and safety Taylor Rapp intercepted his fourth pass of the season. However, the 49ers ’offense exploded out of the break to finish with 449 total yards, including 135 on the ground.

“I do not know,” Ramsey said when asked what happened in the third quarter that allowed the 49ers to score 14 unanswered points to turn a 17-3 Rams break into a 17-17 draw. “We were not aggressive enough, in my opinion, but we have to watch the movie to find out.”

Ramsey finished with three tackles and an interception that stopped a 49ers attempt at a clear signal midway through the fourth quarter. But the Rams, after leading 24-17 on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Kupp with 2:29 left, allowed San Francisco to run 88 yards without timeouts to score a matchdown touchdown with 26 seconds left to climb over time.

“You have to finish,” McVay said. “Our guys got ready to go, but you have to play four quarters, or five quarters in this case.”

Despite the loss, which ended a five-game winning streak, Ramsey expressed some confidence that the Rams could advance in the off-season.

“Fo sho,” he said when asked if they were still equipped to run a Super Bowl. “Correct what needs to be corrected from the movie and just move on. Tomorrow. Or in a little while. I’m not going to get angry in a little while when I’m going to see my daughter, but right now I’m still pretty angry.”

Stafford repeated his Pro Bowl cornerback.

“The biggest thing is that we are a resilient bunch,” he said. “We have been that all year, whether we play at home, play away, things go our way, things do not go our way, we continue to fight. That is what it takes to win matches in the playoffs. There there is no doubt. “

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