NFL Playoffs – NFC Championship

By David Thatcher Clarion Staff Reporter

This year’s postseason has definitely been one of the most entertaining I’ve ever seen. The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams game that took place on January 30 at SoFI Stadium continued to make the postseason very entertaining.

This game, of course, was hyped up by some because the two teams are division rivals. They have competed against each other for the NFC West title for many decades and now they are facing off against each other in the NFC Conference Championship to fight for a spot in Super Bowl LVI.

At first, the game was a bit slow. The Rams and 49ers both went three and out in their opening drives. The Rams did have a promising drive that looked like it was going to result in a touchdown, unfortunately their promising drive was ended by an interception by 49ers safety Jimmie Ward at the 49ers own 3 yard line.

However, things picked up on the Ram’s next drive, and a passing touchdown was scored by Rams receiver Cooper Kupp in the second quarter. The 49ers answered back quickly with a 4-play drive to score a touchdown of their own when 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel received a  pass from 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for a 44 yard passing touchdown. 

The next couple of drives slowed down the game, besides a 38-yard field goal by 49ers kicker Robbie Gould to give the 49ers the lead of 10-7 before halftime. When the Rams had an opportunity to tie the game, their kicker Matt Gay missed a 54-yard field goal that was wide to the right of the field goal posts. Followed by a few other scoringless drives by both teams came after halftime.

Before the end of the 3rd quarter, the 49ers put together a 10-play 58-yard drive for a 16 yard passing touchdown to George Kittle which put the 49ers at a 17 – 7 lead before the end of the 4th quarter. 

Los Angeles also answered back with a touchdown of their own with a 7-play drive for 75 yards that resulted in an 11-yard passing touchdown to Kupp once again to shorten the lead to 17 – 14 with the 49ers still leading.

After a drive by the 49ers that resulted in a punt, the Rams were able to come away with a 40-yard field goal to tie the game around the middle of the 4th quarter, making the score dead even at 17 – 17. This could have been prevented if 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt would have caught the crucial interception that the 49ers needed desperately to potentially put the game away.

The 49ers once again had to punt on their next drive giving the Rams plenty of time to score some points which the Rams ended up escaping with a 30-yard field goal to put the lead in their favor 20-17.

Things went disastrously after the 49ers took the field to try to put together a scoring drive to, at the very least, tie the game and take it to overtime. Unfortunately, the Rams defense who pressured quarterback Jimmy Garopollo in the pocket caused him to make the biggest mistake of the game and that was throwing an interception at San Francisco’s 19-yard line which guaranteed the win for the Rams in the final moments of regulation in the game.

This hasn’t been the first time the 49ers have blown a 10 point lead in a crucial playoff game. If we look back 3 years ago during the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers super bowl the 49ers who had a 10 point lead against the Chiefs also made critical mistakes in the second half especially the 4th quarter which resulted in the Chiefs making a comeback and winning the super bowl.

Kyle Shanahan must find a way or scheme that prevents some of these critical mistakes the 49ers make in critical situations in playoff games if he wants to bring home another Lombardi trophy to San Francisco as well as end their Super Bowl win drought.

In Super Bowl LVI, we see the Cincinnati Bengals face off against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium meaning the Rams are extremely lucky to have home field advantage against the Bengals. That’s something that has occurred in the past two seasons now with last year’s Super Bowl taking place in Tampa Bay back when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced off.

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