The St. Louis Rams were helped by a very poor pass interference penalty late in the fourth quarter after recovering an onside kick, and were able to score their second-straight touchdown to bring the game to 34-27 with 4:36 to go. They gave the ball back to the 49ers, who weren't able to do anything at all and had Alex Smith sacked on third down. So, St. Louis got the ball back, and faced an early third down - but they convert, and get closer to field goal range, though they need a touchdown to tie it.
On 2nd and 10, it's linebacker NaVorro Bowman who picks up a big sack and Kellen Clemens goes down with an injury. Tom Brandstater came in and threw two incompletions, and the 49ers got the ball back. After a first down, they were able to kneel it out and pick up the 34-27 win.
St. Louis had made it close on the previous possession with a big touchdown to Brandon Lloyd, after San Francisco had some of their defensive starters on the bench. But anything can happen in the NFL, and with the New Orleans Saints having already won their game, the 49ers had their chances of a No. 2 seed severely threatened. Still, San Francisco was able to hold on.
And they were able to hold on due to a complete effort. The defensive lapses can be attributed to the fact that some of the starters were sitting, including defensive lineman Justin Smith. Tarell Brown also had two interceptions on the day, for the first time in his career. Still, the absence of Smith for the majority of the game helped the Rams run for a good amount, including 76 yards by Steven Jackson and two rushing touchdowns, one from Clemens and the other from Cadillac Williams.
Alex Smith got the scoring started for the 49ers, responding to Clemens' rushing touchdown with one of his own, and then the 49ers went on to score another couple of times before St. Louis started their late comeback. Michael Crabtree caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Smith, breaking a tackle and taking in the catch-and-run, and then caught another one on a trick fake field goal from David Akers. Running back Anthony Dixon also got a touchdown for San Francisco.
Special teams played well, despite a missed field goal from Akers. He would go on to break the record for points scored in a season by a kicker as well as the record for most field goal attempts in a season. Andy Lee had a 66-yard punt early on, and then after being forced to re-kick late in the game, had pinned the Rams down within the five-yard line.
San Francisco will now have to wait some time to see how their schedule looks, as they secure a first-round bye in the playoffs with the No. 2 seed in the NFC.