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NFC West Report: Rams, Cardinals Join 49ers atop Week 1 Division Standings

In the NFL West Report, we keep you covered on the San Francisco 49ers divisional rivals.

There's a three-way tie atop the NFC West after Week 1 of the 2015 regular season. And the two-time defending conference champions are not among that group.

If you only watched the 49ers 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, here's what you missed from the other games around the division.


St. Louis Rams (1-0)

Week 1:34-31 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Notes:For the third time in four years, the Rams upset the Seahawks at home. This one, much like last season's wild meeting in St. Louis, provided plenty of drama. After coughing up an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Rams drove 84 yards in 12 plays to tie the game with less than a minute remaining. New starting quarterback Nick Foles, who finished his impressive debut 18-of-27 passing for 297 yards, found Lance Kendricks wide open down the left sideline for the touchdown that forced overtime. In the extra period, the Rams recovered an onside kick to set up a Greg Zuerlein 37-yard field goal. On Seattle's ensuing possession, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers combined for a walk-off tackle by stopping Marshawn Lynch on 4th-and-1 at the St. Louis 42-yard line.

Donald won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his 11-tackle, two-sack performance. Tavon Austin, meanwhile, picked up NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Rams won even with wide receiver Brian Quick, running back Tre Mason and running back Todd Gurley inactive. Although their statuses for Week 2 are unknown, all three of those players were full participants in practice on Wednesday. 

Week 2:St. Louis visits the Washington Redskins (0-1) on Sunday.



Arizona Cardinals (1-0)

Week 1:31-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Notes:In his first game back since suffering an ACL injury midway through the 2014 season, Carson Palmer overwhelmed the Saints defense to the tune of 307 yards, three touchdown passes and a 122.8 passer rating. Arizona never trailed, but New Orleans kept the game tight through the fourth quarter until rookie running back David Johnson took a caught a short pass from Palmer in the flat and hustled down the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown. The Saints racked up 408 yards and ran 70 plays against the Cardinals defense, but Patrick Peterson & Co. surrendered just one touchdown and four field goals.

The bad news for the Cardinals? Starting running back Andre Ellington, cousin of 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington, left the game early with a mild sprain in his right knee. He is expected to miss between 1-3 weeks. San Francisco visits Arizona in Week 3 after its trip to Pittsburgh. Chris Johnson, of Tennesee Titans fame, took over in the field backfield for Ellington, rushing for 37 yards on 10 carries.

Week 2:Arizona visits the Chicago Bears (0-1) on Sunday.



Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

Week 1:34-31 overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Notes:In the Super Bowl, the Seahawks opted to pass in a crucial short-yardage situation, and everyone knows the result of that decision. On Sunday, Seattle faced a similar scenario and this time gave the ball to Lynch. The Rams were ready for the handoff, however, and tackled the All-Pro running back behind the line of scrimmage to end the game. That play came a few minutes after the Seahawks attempted an onside kick to start the overtime period. Postgame, Pete Carroll told reporters that his kicker was instructed to boot the ball deep. 

Seattle forced overtime by scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter, including Jimmy Graham's first touchdown with the team and a strip-sack of Foles returned for a score. Russell Wilson was sacked six times in the game but still managed to complete 32-of-41 passes for 251 yards. Rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett made a strong first impression by scoring from 57 yards out on his first NFL punt return. Dion Bailey, the safety filling in for holdout Kam Chancellor, allowed the game-tying Kendricks touchdown catch late in regulation. Chancellor, a three-time Pro Bowler, isn't expected to play this week either.

Week 2:Seattle visits the Green Bay Packers (1-0) on Sunday.


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