The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers enter their "Sunday Night Football" game in different places. The Rams (4-1) are trying to keep pace with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West, while the 49ers (2-3) simply need to turn their season around fast. Either way, both teams would love nothing more than to beat the other.
These two franchises have played every season since 1950 and even the Rams' move to St. Louis and back did not dissipate this rivalry. As former 49er running back Roger Craig said, "If the Rams played their home games on Mars, it would still be a rivalry."
Countless great games have been played over the course of the series' 70-year history. Here is one person's view on the five greatest based on their significance.
5. St. Louis Rams 30, San Francisco 49ers 26
Sept. 23, 2001 — San Francisco
Returning to play after 9/11, the "Greatest Show on Turf" took a 12-0 lead, but San Francisco responded with 16 unanswered points and entered halftime on top. Rams quarterback Kurt Warner threw two touchdown passes to put the Rams ahead 30-16 in the fourth quarter, but San Francisco was not done. Jeff Garcia hit Terry Jackson with a 10-yard touchdown pass, and Jose Cortez kicked a 33-yard field goal to close the lead to 30-26 with 6:51 remaining. Instead of going with their blitzkrieg offensive approach, St. Louis responded with a 12-play drive that ran out the clock.
4. San Francisco 49ers 19, Los Angeles Rams 16
Dec. 14, 1984 — San Francisco
The teams met in the final week in the 1984 season with a lot on the line. San Francisco was attempting to become the first team to go 15-1, and Los Angeles was vying for a playoff spot. Oh, and Eric Dickerson was attempting to add to his single-season rushing record after having broken it the week prior. Joe Montana thew two touchdown passes in the first quarter to take a 14-3 lead, but the Rams worked their way back with two field goals and a touchdown run by Dickerson, who finished with 98 yards for the day and 2,105 for the season, to close the lead to 17-16 in the fourth quarter. The 49ers sealed the win when Gary Johnson sacked Jeff Kemp in the end zone for a safety. Fortunately for the Rams, the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Cardinals both lost that week, allowing Los Angeles to clinch a Wild Card spot. The Rams lost in the first round to the New York Giants, while San Francisco won the Super Bowl.
3. Los Angeles Rams 21, San Francisco 49ers 20
Jan. 2, 1983 — San Francisco
At the end of the strike-shortened 1982 season, the 3-5 49ers still could have made the playoffs if they beat the Rams, who were 1-7. But as San Francisco guard Randy Cross said before the game, "Just the possibility of knocking us out of the playoffs would be incentive enough for them." He was right. Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo hit George Farmer with a 42-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-20 fourth-quarter lead. San Francisco kicker Ray Wersching attempted a 24-yard field goal with 1:53 left, but it was blocked by Ivory Sully. Then Los Angeles running back Wendell Tyler secured the win by gaining a first down on a 54-yard run, and the 49ers became the fifth team in NFL history to miss the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl.
2. San Francisco 49ers 24, St. Louis Rams 24
Nov. 11, 2012 — San Francisco
St. Louis jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith hit Michael Crabtree for a 14-yard touchdown pass to close the lead by seven before being knocked out of the game with a concussion. Colin Kaepernick came in and methodically brought the team back and David Akers tied the game with a 33-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Both teams missed field goals in overtime, and the game ended with the first tie in the series since 1968. Even though Smith recovered, San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh chose to stick with Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
1. San Francisco 49ers 31, Los Angeles Rams 30
Oct. 4, 1953 — San Francisco
Rams quarterback Norm Van Brocklin threw two touchdown passes as Los Angeles jumped out to a 20-0 second-quarter lead. However, San Francisco quarterback Y.A. Tittle led a 49er comeback, and a Billy Mixon touchdown gave the team a 28-27 lead in the fourth quarter. A 17-yard field goal by Rams kicker Ben Agajanian retook the lead at 30-28, but the 49ers responded with a game-winning field goal that was set up by a 71-yard run by Hugh McElhenny. This was the highest score that either team allowed that season.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of 49ers.com)