ST. LOUIS — Knees bent and arms moving in rhythm, defensive end Chris Long shimmied around the St. Louis Rams locker room, imitating John Travolta’s dance moves from “Pulp Fiction” as owner Stan Kroenke made the rounds shaking hands.
After 10 hard quarters proving Jeff Fisher’s rebuilding project belonged against the class of the NFC West, and more, heck, they deserved a little celebration.
“It’s gratifying,” Long said after Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in overtime to give the Rams a 16-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, avoiding a second tie in three weeks between the teams. “I feel for everybody who’s come here and really put in the work and bought into what coach Fisher’s doing.”
The rookie’s winning kick on fourth and inches from the 36 came after he sent the game into overtime with a 53-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. The kick was right down the middle with plenty of distance to spare.
“I was just trying to make the kick and not think about anything,” Zuerlein said. “I was pretty relieved, you know.”
The Rams (5-6-1) scored twice in the final 3:04 of regulation, getting their lone touchdown when rookie Janoris Jenkins returned an errant pitchout by Colin Kaepernick 2 yards for his third defensive score in two weeks. They’ve won two straight after an 0-4-1 skid.
Kaepernick also gave up a safety in the third quarter that cut the 49ers' lead to 10-2 when he was penalized for intentional grounding passing out of the end zone while under duress. Referee Carl Cheffers said it was intentional grounding because the pass did not cross the line of scrimmage.
The 49ers (8-3-1) failed to take advantage of a 14-yard punt by rookie Johnny Hekker to midfield when David Akers was barely wide right on a 51-yard attempt with 4:11 to go in overtime. Akers is just 7 for 15 from 40 yards and beyond.
“I probably missed it by 3-4 inches to the right,” Akers said. “I just feel horrible for letting my teammates, the organization and the fans down.”
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had only compliments for Kaepernick and blamed the coaching staff for calling the botched pitchout, and indicated Kaepernick would get his fourth straight next week at home against Miami.
“I’ll let you know if there’s a change, but right now I think it’ll be the same as it was this week,” Harbaugh said. “I’m proud of Kap, proud of the way he played.”
Zuerlein is 7 for 11 from the 50 and beyond. Before the 53-yarder at the end of regulation, he had missed four of his previous seven attempts including a 58-yarder near the end of the half.
The last time teams tied twice in a season was in 1963, in games between the Eagles and Steelers. The last time teams had two ties in a season was in 1973 when it happened to four teams.
The first 49ers-Rams meeting this season was the NFL’s first tie in four seasons, and was a lot more wide open with both teams missing chances to end it in overtime. Fisher bristled during the practice week that the tie was a wakeup call for the 49ers.