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Rams advance to Super Bowl LVI with 20-17 win over 49ers in NFC Championship

Jan 30, 2022 at 6:42 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 0 10 7 0 17
LA 0 7 0 13 20

The San Francisco 49ers had a spot in Super Bowl LVI in their sights in the NFC Championship game against the Rams on Sunday, but the Rams had other ideas, rallying from a double-digit deficit to notch their first win over the 49ers in seven games.

The 49ers held a 17-7 lead early in the fourth quarter but couldn't make the plays they needed down the stretch, allowing the Rams to score 13 unanswered points to take a 20-17 lead with less than two minutes to play. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossed an interception on the 49ers' final possession of the game, sending the Rams to an NFC title and a Super Bowl berth in their home stadium.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 337 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 31-of-45 passing, completing 11 passes to wide receiver Cooper Kupp for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, in what might be his last game with the 49ers, completed 16-of-30 passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

First Half

The game started with a three-and-out from each team, with the 49ers missing an opportunity when Jimmy Garoppolo missed a wide open George Kittle for what would have likely been a significant gain on third down. But the Rams missed opportunity of their own on their second possession when after a 10-play, 64-yard drive, cornerback K'Waun Williams tipped a third down pass at the goal line into the hands of safety Jimmie Ward, who set the 49ers up with possession after a 23-yard return.

The 49ers put together a six-play, 37-yard drive after the interception before being forced to punt. Wide receiver Trent Sherfield was able to pin the Rams deep in their own territory after downing the punt at the 3-yard line, but the Rams responded with a statement drive, moving 97 yards in 18 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Kupp. The Rams faced a 3rd-and-13 on the scoring play, but Stafford found Kupp in the end zone to take the lead midway through the second quarter to cap a possession that chewed up over nine minutes off the clock.

That lead didn't last long, thanks in large part to the first big play of the game from 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel. A 31-yard completion from Garoppolo to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk earlier in the drive put the 49ers across midfield at the Rams' 42-yard line, then after a false start penalty and a short run by running back Elijah Mitchell, Garoppolo connected with Samuel on a short pass and Samuel took care of rest, fighting through the Rams' defense for a 44-yard touchdown to tie the game.

The Rams responded with a 12-play, 41-yard drive that moved the ball to the 49ers' 36-yard line but gave the ball back to the 49ers after a missed 54-yard field goal attempt by Matt Gay. The 49ers cashed in with an eight-play, 36-yard drive with 1:50 remaining in the first half to take a 10-7 lead on a 38-yard field goal from Robbie Gould. The 49ers were outgained in the first half and held the ball for less than ten minutes but managed to take the lead into the break nonetheless, with the second half kickoff coming their way.

Second Half

The 49ers moved past midfield on the first possession of the second half but were forced to punt to the Rams after eight plays, giving the Rams possession at their own 11-yard line. The Rams moved across midfield on three consecutive pass completions but eventually faced a 4th-and-1 at the 49ers' 43-yard line. The 49ers stuffed Stafford for no gain on the play, forcing a turnover on downs.

The 49ers took that opportunity and cashed in, producing a 10-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Kittle to stretch the lead to 17-7. The drive featured two key third-down conversion catches from Aiyuk and wide receiver JaJuan Jennings, then Garoppolo found an open Kittle from 16 yards out to make the lead double digits.

The Rams moved downfield in a hurry due in part to a 15-yard taunting penalty on 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and a 20-yard gain on a flea flicker to tight end Kendall Blanton, then eventually trimmed the lead to three on an 11-yard touchdown reception from Kupp. The drive spanned 75 yards in seven plays before Stafford found Kupp wide open for the score with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game.

The 49ers moved the ball across midfield on their next possession before facing a 3rd-and-2 at the Rams' 45. They sent left tackle Trent Williams in motion on the play before running the ball inside with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was stopped for no gain. McVay again challenged the ruling on the play, looking for officials to rule that Juszczyk fumbled, but he lost the challenge, costing the Rams their final timeout of the game. The 49ers punted back to the Rams after the challenge.

The punt was fielded by the Rams at their own 15, then after getting a major break when safety Jaquiski Tartt dropped an interception on first down, the Rams moved into 49ers territory after a 29-yard completion to wide receiver Odell Beckham was compounded with a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness on Jimmie Ward. A 16-yard completion to Kupp on 3rd-and-10 moved the ball to the 49ers' 25-yard line, then faced a 3rd-and-3 at the 18 three plays later. But 49ers linebacker Fred Warner stopped a pass to running back Sony Michel for a four-yard loss on the play, forcing the Rams to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Gay to tie the game at 17 with just under seven minutes remaining.

The next possession was a dud for the 49ers, who punted back to the Rams after three incompletions and a second-down delay of game penalty. The Rams took over at their own 39-yard line after the punt, then moved down to the 12-yard line in six plays after a 25-yard completion to Kupp on a 3rd-and-3, his sixth third-down conversion catch of the game. But the 49ers stepped up on defense on 2nd-and-11 from the 13 as defensive ends Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam split on a sack that set the Rams up with a 3rd-and-18. The Rams failed to convert on third down and settled for a 30-yard field goal from Gay to take a 20-17 lead with 1:46 remaining.

The 49ers fell short on offense one more time, with their final possession ending in a turnover when Garoppolo tossed the ball under pressure into the arms of linebacker Travin Howard. The Rams ran out the clock from there, cementing a date with the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on February 13, 2022 (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT, NBC).

The Rams outgained the 49ers 396-to-282 in the game while converting 11-of-18 third downs compared to 3-of-9 for the 49ers. The 49ers didn't have the rushing success that they had in previous outings against the Rams as they were outgained on the ground 70-50 while averaging just 2.5 yards a carry.

The Rams will be making their fifth Super Bowl appearance as a franchise and their first since losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII (2018 season). The last and only Super Bowl win came when the Rams were playing in St. Louis -- a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV (1999 season). The Bengals faced the 49ers in each of their previous two Super Bowl appearances, losing 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI (1981) and 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII (1988).

SF Team Stats LA
282 Total Yards 396
232 Passing Yards 326
50 Rushing Yards 70
7.7 Avg Yards per Pass 7.5
2.5 Avg Yards per Run 2.4
0 Fumbles Lost 0
1 Int Thrown 1
0 Sacks Allowed 2
24:21 Time of Pos 35:39
6 Penalties 2

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Jimmy Garoppolo 16/30 232 2 1
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Deebo Samuel 7 26 3.7 0
Elijah Mitchell 11 20 1.8 0
Jimmy Garoppolo 1 4 4 0
Kyle Juszczyk 1 0 0 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Deebo Samuel 4 7 72 1
Brandon Aiyuk 4 8 69 0
Elijah Mitchell 3 3 50 0
George Kittle 2 5 27 1
Jauan Jennings 2 2 8 0
JaMycal Hasty 1 3 6 0
Travis Benjamin 0 1 0 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Robbie Gould 1 1 38 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 5 37.6 3 44
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Deebo Samuel 26 13 0 15
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Travis Benjamin 1 9 0 9
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Fred Warner 7-3 0 0 0
Emmanuel Moseley 6-0 0 0 0
Jimmie Ward 4-4 0 1 0
Nick Bosa 4-2 1.5 0 0
Jaquiski Tartt 3-3 0 0 0
Azeez Al-Shaair 2-3 0 0 0
K'Waun Williams 2-1 0 0 0
Dre Greenlaw 2-1 0 0 0
Ambry Thomas 10-3 0 0 0
D.J. Jones 1-2 0 0 0
Samson Ebukam 1-2 0.5 0 0
Jordan Willis 1-1 0 0 0
Trey Sermon 1-0 0 0 0
Charles Omenihu 1-0 0 0 0
Tom Compton 1-0 0 0 0

Rams Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Matthew Stafford 31/45 337 2 1
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Cam Akers 13 48 3.7 0
Sony Michel 10 16 1.6 0
Matthew Stafford 5 8 1.6 0
Cooper Kupp 1 -2 -2 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Cooper Kupp 11 14 142 2
Odell Beckham Jr. 9 11 113 0
Kendall Blanton 5 5 57 0
Tyler Higbee 2 3 18 0
Van Jefferson 2 5 9 0
Cam Akers 1 1 2 0
Ben Skowronek 0 1 0 0
Sony Michel 1 2 -4 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Matt Gay 2 3 40 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Johnny Hekker 1 58 0 58
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Brandon Powell 24 24 0 24
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Troy Reeder 6-2 0 0 0
Nick Scott 5-1 0 0 0
Eric Weddle 4-5 0 0 0
A'Shawn Robinson 3-3 0 0 0
Darious Williams 2-2 0 0 0
Buddy Howell 2-0 0 0 0
Greg Gaines 1-2 0 0 0
Obo Okoronkwo 1-1 0 0 0
Von Miller 1-1 0 0 0
Travin Howard 1-1 0 1 0
Jalen Ramsey 1-0 0 0 0
Rob Havenstein 1-0 0 0 0

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