The date was November 5, 2006. Scott Linehan was in his first season as head coach, and running back Steven Jackson, receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt were still the stars of the team. Marc Bulger was the quarterback.
That was the last time the St. Louis Rams woke up on a morning in the month of November when the team still had a winning record. They were 4-3, and even though the Rams were an aging and injury-plagued squad with a nucleus nearing its end, it was November and St. Louis had a winning record.
Unfortunately, the Rams had a game against the Kansas City Chiefs that day, which they lost, dropping the club’s record to 4-4. That was the third straight loss for St. Louis, which would go on to lose two more before winning again, then losing two more after that.
By the time mid-December rolled around, the Rams were 5-8 and were no longer in the playoff hunt. St. Louis did go on to win its final three games that year to finish 8-8. And that was the last time the St. Louis Rams finished a season with a better than losing record. It was also the last time anyone involved with the Rams franchise woke up on a morning in November and the team still had a winning record.
Until this morning that is, and that’s because the Rams, thanks to superb running by rookie Todd Gurley, explosive speed by wideout Tavon Austin, and brilliant play by its entire defense, were able to absolutely pummel the San Francisco 49ers in a 27-6 win at the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis.
“Well it’s nice to win a game, especially in the division, and not be satisfied,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said following the game. “I think we have to be very careful not to be satisfied with the fact that we’ve won two consecutive games here because we still have a long way to go and a lot of room for improvement.”
St. Louis got off to a slow start, gaining just 53 yards in the first quarter – most of which came on a single, 20-yard pass to Austin. But the Rams got going in the second, thanks to a scintillating 71-yard touchdown romp through the heart of San Francisco’s defense by Gurley – his third TD in his last two games – which sparked an 18-point quarter that allowed St. Louis to take over the game.
“I keep bringing up that ‘S’ word, which is ‘special’,” Fisher said. “I’ve been saying that he’s special. Again, credit him to get to this point and credit the guys around him. They bought into the run game. They bought into that philosophy, which you have to have. He’s obviously getting a lot of people’s attention.”
Austin capped the second quarter scoring for the Rams with a two-yard burst around right end on a jet sweep to give St. Louis a 20-6 lead at halftime. After that, the Ram defense took over and held the 49er offense to just 76 yards and three first downs in the second half.
“I told the guys inside, ‘12 points in two weeks is too many’,” Fisher said, in reference to a Ram defense that has allowed just six points in each of its last two games. “That’s the push you have to take. We got off the field on fourth down a couple of drives and once they get down there, we’re stressing field goals, field goals, field goals.”
The Rams are now 4-3 on the season, giving the club its first winning record in the month of November since 2006.
“Well, we expected to be here in years past, but things just didn’t work out that way,” Fisher said. “Again, I’m not satisfied. I’m not satisfied overall with the team, with execution, those kind of things. That has to carry over to the players as well, and I know it does. We’ve got work to do and just try to continue to build wins. That’s the one thing we can do.”
St. Louis will be back on the road this weekend, with a trip north to play the Minnesota Vikings. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday at noon.
Scoring Summary … 1st … 2nd … 3rd … 4th … Final Score
San Francisco 49ers … 3 …. 3 … 0 … 0 … — 6
St. Louis Rams …… 2 … 18 … 0 … 7… — 27
SF – Phil Dawson 54 yd field goal – 10:29 – 3-0
STL – Safety (tackled SF ball carrier in end zone) – 4:24 – 3-2
STL – Todd Gurley 71 yd run (Jared Cook 2-pt pass from Nick Foles) – 10:25 – 3-10
STL – Greg Zuerlein 38 yd field goal – 6:52 – 3-13
SF – Phil Dawson 26 yd field goal – 1:53 – 6-13
STL – Tavon Austin 2 yd run (Greg Zuerlein kick) — :18 – 6-20
STL – Tavon Austin 66 yd pass from Nick Foles (Greg Zuerlein kick) – 8:34 – 6-27