Dec. 26, 2010
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ST. LOUIS (AP) While Mike Singletary and Troy Smith squabbled on the sideline, rookie Sam Bradford stayed veteran calm.
NEWS: Source: Singletary will not return as head coach
The No. 1 overall draft pick helpedkeep the St. Louis Rams' playoff drive motoring along, also breakingPeyton Manning's NFL rookie record for completions in a 25-17 victoryover the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.Eclipsing Manning's 12-year-oldrecord was nice. Helping the Rams (7-8) stay on track to end afive-year playoff drought in a winner-take-all game for the NFC Westtitle next week is a much bigger deal. RELATED: NFL Standings
"I guess it's pretty cool," Bradfordsaid of the record. "I'm all fired up about the win. If you don't getexcited for a game like this, you're probably in the wrong business."The Rams' defense kept both of theSmiths on the run, sacking Troy Smith and Alex Smith two times apiece.Singletary gave Troy Smith one more series after a heated exchange latein the third quarter, then benched him after the 49ers (5-10) wentthree-and-out on their first possession of the fourth quarter.The 49ers were eliminated from playoff consideration, and haven't made it to the postseason since 2002."Troy's a passionate guy and the way he responded, that's fine," Singletary said. "He's frustrated, I'm frustrated."We're both trying to get something to happen on the field. That's all it was."The 49ers' locker room was closed forabout 20 minutes after the game before Singletary emerged, saying hehad no regrets about his quarterback choice. RELATED: 49ers notebook: In need of a QB, too
"As the head coach, the mostimportant quality for me is to be able to make a decision and be ableto live or die with it," Singletary said. "And not to turn around andblame it on somebody else."Singletary is 18-22 with two yearsto go on a four-year contract and wasn't sure if he'd be back, saying"I don't know, that's not my decision."The Rams finished 5-3 at home, thefranchise's first winning record since 2004. They were 2-22 combinedthe previous three seasons.The 49ers were 1-7 on the road,where they were outscored 200-117. They appeared to sag after missing achance to take a 17-15 lead late in the third quarter when Jeff Reedshanked a 34-yard field goal attempt.Troy Smith passed for 356 yards in the 49ers' overtime victory over the Rams last month, but did not play the last two games. REWIND: T. Smith, 49ers overcome penalties, Rams in OT
"I wouldn't say there was a lot ofdifferences, but you've got to give St. Louis credit," Smith said."Defensively, they do a lot of things to put the quarterback and teamin a not-so-comfortable situation."James Hall had 1 12 sacks for adefense that totaled four, including a safety in the first quarter whenTroy Smith fumbled a poor shotgun snap in the end zone. Troy Smith was2 for 3 for 85 yards on a second-quarter drive capped by a 60-yardtouchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, but was only 7 for 19 for 153 yardswhen Alex Smith replaced him midway through the fourth quarter.Bradford broke out of a three-gameslump of no touchdown passes and five interceptions. He was 16 for 20for 168 yards the second half, including a 3-yard pass to LaurentRobinson that made it 22-14 with 9:36 to go, and finished 28 for 37 for292 yards with no interceptions.The 49ers stuffed the run, limiting Steven Jackson to 48 yards on 24 carries.Bradford has 335 completions,topping Manning's record of 326 in 1998. He passed Chris Weinke forsecond in rookie attempts with 550, needing 26 in next week's finale toeclipse Manning.The Rams scored on their first drivefor only the second time, benefiting from an interference call on NateClements, with Jackson scoring from the 1 on the next play.Josh Brown kicked three field goalsfor St. Louis, giving him 11 the last three games, and has matched hiscareer season best with 31.The 49ers led 14-12 at the half even though they totaled three first downs and 82 yards in penalties.Ginn was untouched on the puntreturn for the 49ers' first score in the second quarter. San Franciscohad no return yards on 10 punts by Donnie Jones in the first meetingNov. 14 in San Francisco.St. Louis went up 9-0 late in thefirst quarter on the safety, but then went three-and-out on threestraight series while the 49ers caught their stride.Notes: On their opening possession,the Rams have scored two touchdowns and three field goals, along withseven punts, two lost fumbles, and a blocked field goal. ... 49ers CDavid Baas injured his left ribcage in the first quarter but returnedlate in the second quarter in time for the 49ers' lone touchdown drive.... Ginn returned two kickoffs for touchdown last year with Miami, andscored on a punt return for the Dolphins in 2007. ... 49ers backup CBPhillip Adams broke his left ankle blocking on the kickoff to open thesecond half. Adams was carted off.