After the versatile Deebo Samuel followed the Rams’ touchdown with a 44-yard touchdown off a screen pass from Garoppolo, Los Angeles’s Pro Bowl kicker, Matt Gay, who missed only two field goal attempts in the regular season, fell well short of the uprights on a 54-yard attempt.
San Francisco led 10-7 at halftime, content to follow its script of short plays and a heavy dose of Samuel, and then elongated its lead in the third quarter when Garoppolo threw a 16-yard touchdown to tight end George Kittle on a busted coverage.
Los Angeles, though, kept searching for ways to break through. Stafford discharged another touchdown pass on a corner route to Kupp that resulted in a 11-yard catch. On defense, the Rams forced the 49ers to punt, though McVay challenged the official ruling of Kyle Juszczyk being down by contact on his third-down run. The call was upheld, leaving Los Angeles without any timeouts down the stretch.
On the next possession, Gay punctuated a 40-yard drive with a field goal that tied the game at 17 with 6 minutes 49 seconds remaining.
It was the Rams’ turn to force the 49ers into sloppy play, with Garoppolo hurried into three incompletions and a delay-of-game penalty and the 49ers being forced to punt after a 23-second drive.
With the ball back in his hands, Stafford found four different receivers before connecting with Kupp again for a 25-yard gain to the San Francisco 12-yard line. Unable to breach the goal line, the Rams kicked a 30-yard field goal to go ahead, 20-17, with 1:46 remaining, leading to the game’s final sequence.
Donald, the defensive tackle at the center of the team’s pass rush, had been to that point exhorting his teammates from the sidelines and had called the team’s defense to an impromptu late huddle. All week, teammates said they wanted to win for Donald, the Rams’ first-round pick in 2014, who has made the Pro Bowl in all eight seasons of his career and has won the Defensive Player of the Year Award three times.