Thursday Night Football is a joke in football circles. The ugly stepchild of the NFL calendar, it’s derided by pretty much everyone for different valid reasons. The players and coaches hate it because the short week leaves no time to practice or even recover from the last game. The fans hate it because said lack of practice time leads to bad, boring football. And everybody hates Nike’s Color Rush scheme, which adds ugly uniforms on top of everything else.
So when people sat down to watch the San Francisco 49ers face the Los Angeles Rams, they were mostly dreading the worst. These were two of the worst teams in the league last season, after all, and the Rams were rocking their bright mustard-colored uniforms. It had all the ingredients of business as usual.
Instead, what happened was the most pleasant surprise of the young season.
These teams played their asses off, delivering an incredible spectacle and exciting, competitive football from start to finish. With all the big plays, fascinating highlights, and twists and turns, it almost had the feel of a playoff game. On Thursday Night Football in Week 3. That never happens!
This game was a miracle, and we must cherish it, starting with the seven best moments.
1. Rams pick off Brian Hoyer on the first play of the game:
Oh, what a hearty chuckle we had. “Typical Hoyer. Typical Thursday night.” Little did we know what we were in for.
2. Jared Goff drops a dime in Sammy Watkins’ bread basket:
This is the type of throw we’ve been waiting for Goff to make at the NFL level: perfect rainbow, deadly accurate, placed where only his receiver can catch it. And let’s not overlook Watkins here, who did his best Willie Mays impression with the basket catch:
3. Pierre Garcon drags his toes:
This play almost got overlooked at first, casually getting ruled out of bounds while the refs focused on a ticky-tack roughing the passer call. Jeff Triplette and his crew never disappoint. Thankfully, Kyle Shanahan challenged and we got to see just how brilliant this catch really was, rightfully getting overturned on review.
The roughing the passer call still held, because Jeff Triplette.
4. Todd Gurley jukes half the defense on a critical first-down conversion:
It’s so nice to see Gurley do Gurley things again after last year’s struggles.
5. LOOK AT BRIAN HOYER DOING THINGS:
This set up a Carlos Hyde touchdown, making it 41-39, Rams. San Francisco still had all three timeouts, but with just 2:48 left, a two-point conversion was the only option.
6. The two-point conversion goes ... poorly:
If Rams CB Troy Hill caught the ball in stride instead of tipping it high, he might’ve taken it back for two points in the Rams’ favor.
Alas, that was pretty much it for the 49ers, unless they got the onside kick—
7. THEY GOT THE DAMN ONSIDE KICK:
NOT OVER YET, BABY.
OK, it was. Despite that hope spot, the 49ers ran out of magic — they couldn’t convert a fourth down and had to burn their timeouts while the Rams bled the clock down to zero.
Let’s have this much fun every Thursday night, yeah?