Final/OT

Rams 20

(4-5, 0-4 away)

49ers 23

(3-6, 3-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:15 PM ET, November 14, 2010

Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
STL 3 7 7 3 020
SF 7 3 0 10 323

Top Performers

Passing: T. Smith (SF) - 356 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: F. Gore (SF) - 22 CAR, 87 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Walker (SF) - 4 REC, 80 YDS

Niners knock off Rams in OT as Troy Smith explodes for 356 yards passing

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- After getting back into the NFC West race with two gutsy performances by their new starting quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers think they've finally found the right Smith for the job.

Joe Nedney kicked a 29-yard field goal with 9:38 left in overtime, and Troy Smith passed for 356 yards while leading two late scoring drives in the 49ers' 23-20 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Smith earned his second straight victory as a starter for the 49ers (3-6), throwing a go-ahead 16-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with 2:10 left in regulation before leading the winning drive in OT.

Although he realizes he won't remind anybody of Joe Montana or Steve Young just yet, Ohio State's former Heisman Trophy winner is thriving in place of Alex Smith, who's out with a separated left shoulder.

"When you're part of a team that has nothing but a winning tradition, you want to keep that going as a quarterback," Troy Smith said, overlooking the 49ers' current seven-year absence from the playoffs. "There's too many tremendous athletes here to not share, for everybody to not have the opportunity to make a play. It's on me for distribution."

With agility, mental resilience and a knack for making on-the-move throws into St. Louis' porous secondary, Smith started slowly but went 17 for 28. He also outplayed Rams rookie Sam Bradford in the first NFL meeting of Heisman-winning quarterbacks since Carson Palmer and Vinny Testaverde faced off six years ago.

Nobody will get any trophies after this often-ugly game -- but thanks to their division's profound mediocrity, San Francisco is back in the chase for its first playoff berth since 2002, just two games behind leader Seattle. St. Louis fell a game back of first place after losing on the road for the 20th time in 22 games.

"Somehow we've got to find that killer instinct," said Bradford, who went 30 of 42 for 251 yards and a touchdown in his fourth road loss. "We have to be able to put teams away when the game is on the line."

The 49ers overcame 14 penalties -- including two that wiped out fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Crabtree and Vernon Davis -- and the late loss of starting left tackle Joe Staley to a broken leg with outstanding drives on their final two possessions. St. Louis couldn't stop Smith from leading a 76-yard march for Crabtree's catch, followed by a 55-yard drive for Nedney's winner.

Coach Mike Singletary wouldn't pick his starter for next week, but it's fairly clear Troy Smith energizes his teammates in ways Alex Smith hasn't mastered.

"When we go out there, it's just like we're little kids," said Gore, who rushed for 87 yards and caught three passes for 67 more, including a pivotal fourth-down reception during the final regulation drive. "It feels good, because going back to the first eight games, something was always going wrong for us."

After Bradford and Steven Jackson led the Rams (4-5) back for Josh Brown's 33-yard field goal on the final snap of regulation, St. Louis couldn't get a first down after winning the overtime coin toss.

Smith swiftly moved the 49ers 55 yards, converting on third down for the first time in the game when St. Louis' Oshiomogho Atogwe was called for a 22-yard pass interference penalty.

Nedney then made his third field goal despite injuring his leg on the opening kickoff of San Francisco's fifth straight win over St. Louis.

Danny Amendola caught an early TD pass for St. Louis, which went ahead 17-10 late in the third quarter on Jackson's 13-yard TD run through traffic. Jackson rushed for 81 yards and made a tough 25-yard catch to set up the tying field goal for the Rams, who have lost seven straight road games.

"Stick together. Everyone stick together," Jackson said. "Everyone trust in what we're trying to get done, what we're trying to establish here. We have seven games to go. Although this is a tough one to swallow ... we're still in the middle of things."

Gore caught two big passes on the 49ers' 76-yard go-ahead drive in the final minutes of regulation, including an inexplicably wide-open 23-yard reception on fourth-and-18 when a stop would have finished it for St. Louis.

"Nothing more frustrating," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You never relax, but a good quarterback got it to a good back twice. There's no excuse for that. Really, that can't happen."

Game notes


Staley was on crutches after the game. He broke his left fibula. ... A first-quarter penalty also erased a long interception return by San Francisco CB Nate Clements. ... St. Louis also lost LT Rodger Saffold to an ankle injury in the first half, but Spagnuolo didn't think the injury would be a long-term problem.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
STL
SF
1st Downs2219
Passing 1st downs
1211
Rushing 1st downs
65
1st downs from Penalties
43
3rd down efficiency
2-140-11
4th down efficiency
0-01-1
Total Plays6959
Total Yards332421
Yards per play4.87.1
Total Drives1414
Passing228323
Comp - Att
30-4217-28
Yards per pass
5.411.5
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks - Yards Lost
3-235-33
Rushing10498
Rushing Attempts
2426
Yards per rush
4.33.8
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-32-5
Penalties12-13514-105
Turnovers00
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
00
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession35:0330:18

Passing Leaders

STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Bradford30/422516.0103-23
SFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Smith17/2835612.7105-33

Rushing Leaders

STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson20814.1126
Amendola2126.0010
SFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Gore22874.0123
Smith3124.006

Receiving Leaders

STLRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Gibson8729.00179
Jackson8678.40259
SFRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Walker48020.00365
Davis47919.80386

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSTLSF
stlFG09:35Josh Brown 42 Yd 30
sfTD03:10Frank Gore 1 Yd Run (Joe Nedney Kick) 37
SECOND QUARTERSTLSF
sfFG12:04Joe Nedney 26 Yd 310
stlTD09:08Danny Amendola 5 Yd Pass From Sam Bradford (Josh Brown Kick) 1010
THIRD QUARTERSTLSF
stlTD02:48Steven Jackson 13 Yd Run (Josh Brown Kick) 1710
FOURTH QUARTERSTLSF
sfFG09:02Joe Nedney 47 Yd 1713
sfTD02:10Michael Crabtree 16 Yd Pass From Troy Smith (Joe Nedney Kick) 1720
stlFG00:00Josh Brown 33 Yd 2020
OVERTIMESTLSF
sfFG09:39Joe Nedney 29 Yd 2023