49ers spoiled thrill of victory

MATT STAFFORD has had a very good season, but Jimmy G. outdid him on Sunday (Rams photo).

After one of the most exciting finishes in a recent NFL season, one has to wonder: did adding another game to the schedule contribute to the excitement? If so, why not make it an 18-week season?

The Los Angeles Rams will be playing an 18th game next Monday (Jan. 17) against a familiar foe, the Arizona Cardinals. As NFC West foes, they played twice and split, the Cards winning the first 37-20 and the Rams the second, by 30-23.

You might think that having the game at SoFi would give LAR an advantage, but probably not. The last game in Inglewood between the two teams was won by the Cards, who play better on the road (8-1) than they do at home (3-5).

But the team that may be most on the minds of Rams coaches and players may not be Arizona. On Sunday they lost to the San Francisco Giants 27-24 in overtime. That didn’t keep them from winning the NFC West, but it did represent their sixth loss in a row to their in-state rivals.

“In the moment right now, this is a tough feeling,” said Coach Sean McVay.

And how. Comparing the two quarterbacks – Jimmy Garoppolo of the Niners and Matthew Stafford – which one looked more capable of leading his team to the Super Bowl?

This not to discount the accomplishments of Stafford, who set a franchise record for yards passing and tied the mark for most touchdown passes thrown. But Stafford – like the Rams – has shown a tendency to play in streaks.

Whether the first round playoff game is the beginning of a new streak of wins or of losses is uncertain, but one thing isn’t: the Rams would rather play the Cards again than the 49ers.

Charged up about the Chargers

Despite losing to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday by 35-32 in overtime, this has been a good season for the Los Angeles Chargers. They’ve got a young quarterback in Justin Herbert on track to become a superstar, they contended for the post-season right up until the closing seconds of overtime of the last game of the season, and – perhaps most importantly – are filling (or close to it) the SoFi Stadium, showing signs they have truly established a strong fan base here.

Of course, it would be interesting to find out if those fannies in the seats are people who made the trip north from San Diego or are local, but I guess that doesn’t matter to the folks in the accounting department.

Of all the remarkable things about their season one of them is this: if the Chargers had simply tied the Raiders, that would have sent both to the playoffs, but knocked the Steelers out.

“I never wanted to tie a game so bad in my life,” said Herbert on the sidelines during the game.

It didn’t happen, but it would have been a fitting end to the longest and – in some ways – the most interesting NFL season ever.

Sports Calendar

Here are the schedule of games coming up for area pro teams.

  • Los Angeles Rams: First round playoff game on Monday, Jan. 17 at SoFi Stadium hosting the Arizona Cardinals.
  • Los Angeles Lakers (21-20): On Wednesday at Sacramento Kings; on Friday at Denver Nuggets.
  • Los Angeles Clippers (20-21): Host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday; host the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.
  • Los Angeles Kings (17-13-5): On Thursday hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins; on Saturday visiting the Seattle Kraken.
  • Anaheim Ducks (19-12-7): Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday; visit the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

Final out: It was on this day in 1972 the Lakers’ record 33-game winning streak was broken by the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 120-104. How did they do it? Future Laker Kareem Abdul Jabbar scored 39 points. What an audition!

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.



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