What a weird game. The Rams dominated from start to almost finish, leading by double digits for most of the evening. However, the 49ers were able to inexplicably put together a late charge, as Brian Hoyer caught fire against Wade Phillips' defense. San Francisco would've tied the game had Robbie Gould not whiffed on an extra point. In the end, the Rams prevailed, 41-39, in what turned out to be the highest-scoring game in Thursday Night Football history.
It began very poorly for Hoyer, who was picked off on his very first pass. The Rams corner jumped the route, and Todd Gurley scored a touchdown on the very next play. Just like that, the Rams were up by seven with 12 seconds later. The 49ers continued to struggle throughout the opening half, scoring their only touchdown as a result of the Rams being offside on a punt that gave the 49ers a first down.
The primary problem for San Francisco was that it made lots of mistakes prior to intermission. A holding penalty negated a Jared Goff sack, setting up another Gurley touchdown. Third-string running back Raheem Mostert fumbled, which allowed the Rams to kick a field goal. Hoyer missed an open Pierre Garcon. George Kittle dropped a pass. It was a comedy of errors for the 49ers, who were playing in front of lots of empty seats in Santa Clara.
The 49ers stopped committing unforced mistakes in the second half, perhaps because the Rams were so exhausted defensively. The injuries didn't help either. They lost star safety Lamarcus Joyner to a hamstring, and Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn had to leave the game with injuries at some point. San Francisco, a team that hadn't scored a single touchdown entering this contest, transformed into an offensive machine, as both Garcon and Marquise Goodwin made circus catches along the sidelines to help Hoyer, who was gaining more confidence with every throw. A Pharoh Cooper fumbled kickoff return helped, setting up the 49ers with the opportunity to tie the game, deep in Rams territory. They managed to score on fourth down with a tough Carlos Hyde run, but missed on the two-point conversion, as the receiver Hoyer threw to ran a bad route.
The 49ers still had a chance after that because they recovered an onside kick. However, Aaron Donald closed out the game, sacking Hoyer on fourth down.
Gurley was an absolute monster for the Rams. He rushed for 113 yards on 28 carries, and he was once again a big-time factor in the passing game, catching five of his seven targets for 36 receiving yards. He scored thrice, but would've had five touchdowns had he not been stuffed on the goal line on two separate drives. A major reason for this was center John Sullivan getting knocked out with an injury. Backup Austin Blythe couldn't get as much of a push. It'll be important for the Rams to have Sullivan in next week's game against the Cowboys.
Goff continued to improve, as he misfired on just six occasions. Granted, this was against San Francisco's inept defense, but he looked so much better than last year, going 22-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Goff still holds on to the ball too long, and as Cris Collinsworth mentioned, he drifts back in the pocket too often. That said, he works hard, so he should be able to improve in these facets. Until he does, however, he'll be in trouble when battling tough defenses. The 49ers simply couldn't get to the quarterback very often, but some other teams - like the Redskins last week - will be able to.
Two of Goff's touchdowns went to Sammy Watkins (6-106), who finally had a big game. He and Robert Woods (6-108) weren't met with much resistance, as safety Eric Reid was inactive. The only Ram who disappointed was Cooper Kupp, who snatched just two balls for 17 yards.
Going back to the 49ers, Hoyer shook off his initial pick to have a solid outing otherwise. He went 23-of-37 for 322 yards and two touchdowns. As a reminder, the Rams lost a couple of star players, but Hoyer did a good job of bouncing back from a horrible throw to start the game. He could've melted down quite easily, but didn't.
Hoyer was locked in on Garcon, which wasn't surprising at all. Garcon snared seven of his 10 targets for 142 yards. Goodwin (2-62) hauled in a 50-yard grab, while fifth-round rookie Trent Taylor (3-32) secured a touchdown after suffering what appeared to be a possible concussion.
Hyde found the end zone twice, gaining 84 yards on 25 tries. For a while, it looked like Hyde fantasy owners were going to be extremely upset, as their running back was barely on the field in the first quarter because of some sort of injury. However, Hyde was able to return, and he had some impressive short-yardage runs on fourth down to score both of his touchdowns.
Jaguars 44, Ravens 7
The Jaguars may not be able to sell out their home games, so perhaps they should permanently re-locate to London. Granted, there's no swimming pool at Wembley, but it appears as though Jacksonville is much more comfortable playing in England, particularly in these 9:30 a.m. starts. The Jaguars won the previous two such contests, and they continued that trend, absolutely crushing the Ravens in a completely dominating performance.
Blake Bortles did a great job of avoiding mistakes in this game, which was a complete reversal from last week's blowout loss to the Titans. He opened with a pretty touch pass to Marqise Lee, which went for 35 yards, setting up a field goal. Bortles found the end zone later in the opening quarter, lofting another nice touch pass to Marcedes Lewis for a touchdown, marking the first time the Ravens allowed an opponent to convert in the red zone all year.
Bortles continued the onslaught in the second quarter, scrambling for a first down to convert a third-and-7. A few plays later, Bortles fired a strike to Allen Hurns into the end zone, giving the Jaguars an insurmountable 20-0 lead. By halftime, the Jaguars were up 23-0, and they were outgaining the Ravens, 261-15. Baltimore averaged a ghastly 0.7 yards per play in the opening half.
Bortles' final numbers were 20-of-31 for 244 yards and four touchdowns. He also a drew deep pass interference on a shot to Lee, so his numbers could've been even better. The people of London must think that Bortles is the greatest quarterback of all time.
Three of Bortles' scores went to Lewis, who hauled in four grabs for 62 yards. Hurns (3-20) had the other. Lee, meanwhile, led the Jaguars in receiving (4-65).
Leonard Fournette was able to reward his fantasy owners with a touchdown in garbage time. He didn't have the best stat line otherwise (17-59), but he converted an important fourth-and-1 early in the game with a 7-yard burst.
Nothing went right for the Ravens in this game. With Marshal Yanda out, Baltimore couldn't pass protect whatsoever. Joe Flacco was sacked twice on the first three drives, and the pressure affected his throws as well, as his ball placement was way off. The Ravens couldn't reach positive yardage until their fourth drive, and they failed to convert a first down or complete a pass until 4:15 was remaining in the second quarter! It didn't help that there were some drops by Jeremy Maclin, Terrance West and Michael Campanaro in the opening half.
In addition to being sloppy and inefficient, the Ravens also suffered injuries. Defensive lineman Brent Urban was knocked out with a foot sprain, while Maclin exited with a concussion (though he returned in the second half). Baltimore did not look prepared to play this silly 9:30 a.m. Eastern game, and it may have impacted the team's health as well. The NFL needs to abolish these horrible early games, as it is alienating West Coast football fans, who need to wake up at 6 a.m. to set their fantasy lineups.
At any rate, Flacco finished 8-of-18 for 28 yards and two interceptions. One wasn't his fault, as the ball bounced off Maclin's hands, but the other occurred because Flacco stared down his receiver, allowing Jalen Ramsey to jump the route. As horrific as Flacco's stat line was, almost all of his yardage - all 28 of it - came in garbage time in the second half. Prior to intermission, Flacco was just 4-of-12 for only EIGHT yards and an interception.
Baltimore's leader in receiving yardage was tight end Nick Boyle, who had two catches for 14 yards. Buck Allen (5-13) and Ben Watson (3-12) were close behind, as Watson caught a touchdown at the very end of this game. Maclin and Mike Wallace each had one reception for eight and six yards, respectively. Maclin dropped two passes.
West was expected to sit this game out, but he started for some reason. West predictably disappointed, gaining 26 yards on six carries. He dropped a pass and lost a fumble as well. West is a waste, and Allen should be the starter. Even Alex Collins looked better, though all of his 82 rushing yards came in garbage time.
It should be noted that the Jaguars ran a fake punt despite being up 37-0. It was a classless move by a classless head coach, though perhaps the Jaguars just aren't used to being up by so much that they didn't know how to react.