Five things I learned this weekend

1) After the Rams 16-13 overtime win over San Francisco, Coach Jeff Fisher talked about how tough his team is, and the adversity they dealt with in overcoming the 49ers. “That’s the case of guys just hanging in there. Guys making plays. Guys in the three different phases just making the plays that we needed to make.”

There’s no doubt about that. In regulation, the Rams started just two of their across their own 20 yard line. In their third quarter possessions, they started from the 22 and the 30. The other eight drives started from the Rams’ own 20, 5, 20, 10, 18, 13, 19 and 20. The Rams offense didn’t enter 49er territory until the final minute of the second quarter. Toss in that San Francisco entered the game with the second ranked defense in the league, and led the league by allowing 14.1 points per game, and St. Louis had a lot to overcome.

On the flip side, San Francisco’s offense started their first half drives from the 25, 40, 40, 24, 39 and 48 yard lines.

The Rams defense was superb, allowing only one touchdown that capped off an eleven play, 60 yard drive in the first quarter. After that possession, the 49ers picked up 258 more yards in the final four periods of the game. The opportunistic Janoris Jenkins scooped up a fumble and rolled in for the only Rams touchdown, and the defense hassled Colin Kaepernick into an intentional grounding call from the end zone that resulted in a safety.

Greg Zuerlein was obviously fine, but punter Johnny Hekker will have better days.

The offense didn’t score a touchdown, and they won’t get any style points. But Sam Bradford did conduct a seven play, 35 yard drive in 1:34 to set up the tying field goal. Then they moved 22 yards in seven plays so that Zuerlein could kick the winning 54 yarder. This was the fifth time in twelve games (Detroit, Washington, Miami and at San Francisco being the others) in which Bradford has led a drive to put his team in position to tie or win in the fourth quarter or overtime.

At the end of the day, this is the most excited I’ve been about a Rams win since the 2001 NFC Championship game against Philadelphia. I thought at the beginning of the season that the second half would be the time to watch this time. So far in the second half, they’re 2-1-1, and amazingly still in playoff contention.

And the Rams are getting better. They are finding ways to win games. Like Bradford said, “It’s a huge win for this team and this organization. It’s just something for us to build on going into the future.” And that future is coming in a hurry…

2) They need some help, but the Rams can go a long way toward making the playoffs. If they win out, they need just a little help in the form of losses by Dallas and Washington (Dallas is at Cincinnati, has Pittsburgh, New Orleans and at Washington…the Redskins have the Giants, Baltimore, Cleveland, Philly and Dallas). Then the Rams would need Seattle to lose to Arizona or San Francisco at home, or Buffalo on the road, and then they’d need to win out. So you’re saying I’ve got a chance….

3) The NFL got a look at many of next spring’s first round picks in the SEC Championship game. While the Rams will certainly take closer looks at Georgia safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams, the game was good to watch for another team in the state. Mizzou has an idea of what it’ll take to get to the top of the conference. It’s about big time players. Georgia may have five first round picks on defense, with the safeties being joined by cornerback Sanders Commings, linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, and defensive tackle John Jenkins. The first tweak Gary Pinkel has to make is to have more than one or two first round picks on defense. He needs more.

4) It seems as if we’ll have history made with the Heisman Trophy balloting. Either a freshman will win for the first time, or a defensive player that doesn’t return kicks or score touchdowns will. I think it’s great that Johnny Manziel and Manti Te’o are the two favorites. It’s about time players other than draft eligible quarterbacks get recognized.

5) I didn’t know Rick Majerus as well as many in the STL sports media, but I did recognize his genius. There are certain people that are meant to do certain things, and Majerus was meant to coach basketball. He saw the game in a unique way, and understood that he did. He also had the uncanny ability to relate his knowledge to his players. There was nobody better at dissecting and attacking an opponent’s weakness than Majerus. He was a unique personality who, if you listening to his interviews, would veer off to subjects far away from what the original question was about. He was a sports gem, and he will be missed.