Rams v. 49ers: The TNF Matchup the NFL Needed
Ever since it was implemented in 2006, Thursday Night Football has been home to the lowest rated NFL games on television. This is for a variety of reasons like teams not having enough time to prepare for their opponent, or fans not having time to sit and watch a football game in the middle of the week.
There have been two games on Thursday Night Football this season, and the first one was during week two, and was a matchup between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals. The matchup was not great, both teams are not Super Bowl contenders, and neither team has a lot of firepower on the offensive side of the football. The game ended with only one team scoring a touchdown, and a final score of 13-9 Houston. Thursday Night Football looked to be in for another season of disappointment and frustration for players and fans alike.
Before week three, TNF was already taking criticism for the matchup it would be showing on Thursday night. The Los Angeles Rams would be taking on the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The issues surrounding this matchup were that the 49ers are not a good football team, and do not have a lot of attendance at their home games due to fans not enjoying being at Levi’s Stadium. The Rams had just moved from Saint Louis to Los Angeles the year before, and had just had a terrible season that saw them lose to a terrible 49ers team two times. The 49ers had not scored a touchdown heading into this game, and the Rams had scored plenty against the Colts, and a couple against the Redskins. This game was looking to be a boring blowout that saw the Rams eviscerate the 49ers, while the 49ers kicked a couple field goals.
This game was anything but boring, from the very beginning this game was full of offensive prowess and young talent. The Rams saw excellent performances from Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Sammy Watkins, who might be turning into one of the best trios in football, rivaling Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. Todd Gurley scored three touchdowns in the first half, and ended the game with 113 yards on the ground, and 36 yards through the air. Jared Goff completed 22 out of 28 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns, two of which were thrown to Sammy Watkins, who finished with 106 yards. Robert Woods also collected a cool 108 yards through the air as well.
The 49ers were playing from behind from the opening whistle, after Brian Hoyer threw an interception on the first play of the game, the team was playing catch-up until the very end. Hoyer ran for the first 49ers touchdown of the year, and after that, the game just seemed to get easier on offense for the team. Hoyer went 23/37 with two touchdowns, and threw many impressive deep balls to Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. Garcon hauled in 7 balls for 142 yards, and Goodwin caught two passes for 62 yards. Trent Taylor caught his first career touchdown pass and was drawing comparisons to Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola. Most importantly, Carlos Hyde was able to keep up his rushing attack from week two against the powerful front seven of the Rams. He ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
The game came down to the wire, after the 49ers scored a touchdown with 5:08 left to play in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 41-33, they kicked the ball to the Rams, and Victor Bolden Jr. forced a fumble on the return, and the 49ers recovered the football, and went down and scored one more time, but failed to convert the two point conversion, which left the score at 41-39. The 49ers attempted an onside kick and recovered the ball, and ended up turning the ball over on downs after Aaron Donald sacked Brian Hoyer.
This game was the most exciting game to take place in the entire NFL so far this season, and it had me on the edge of my seat. This game might have been a matchup of a decent team versus a terrible team, but the important this is that they are division rivals, which means that they know each other better, and are extra motivated to play hard. I recently heard ESPN’s Max Kellerman suggest that TNF should be only divisional rivalry games, and after seeing this game, I 100% agree.
This was also the only game in NFL history to have a final score of 41-39 too, so that’s pretty cool.