TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Matthew Stafford outplayed Tom Brady within the ultimate minute, shifting the Rams into place for a last-second subject aim that gave Los Angeles a 30-27 victory over the Buccaneers on Sunday after the seven-time Super Bowl champion led Tampa Bay on a late tying drive.
Stafford threw for 366 yards and two touchdowns, and Matt Gay’s 30-yard subject aim as time expired despatched the Rams (14-5) into subsequent Sunday’s NFC championship recreation at house towards the San Francisco 49ers.
Brady rallied the Bucs from a 27-3 second-half deficit with assist from three Los Angeles turnovers, tying the sport on Leonard Fournette’s 9-yard run on fourth-and-inches with 42 seconds remaining. The NFL’s all-time passer chief did not get a possibility to complete the job.
And it is unsure if that was the ultimate recreation for Brady, who’s undecided on retirement.
Stafford led the Rams downfield after the following kickoff, utilizing completions of 20 and 44 yards to league receiving chief Cooper Kupp to arrange Gay’s third subject aim of the day.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Stafford stated. “I imply, we positive let ’em again within the recreation with a bunch of errors on offense. Our protection performed excellent. We’ve received to wash some stuff up, perform a little higher job within the turnover division.
“This is a troublesome group, man, that is what we’re all about. Just pleased to get a win and carry on shifting.”
Earlier, Stafford discovered Kupp vast open behind the Bucs secondary on a 70-yard scoring play that put Los Angeles up 17-3 early within the second quarter.
“Man, he’s the heart and soul of this offense,” Stafford stated. “What he’s capable of do down in, down out, whether or not it’s within the cross recreation, run recreation — he’s an unbelievable competitor.”
Stafford, who had by no means received a postseason recreation earlier than beating Arizona within the earlier week’s wild-card spherical, accomplished 28 of 38 passes with out an interception. The 13-year veteran additionally scored on a 1-yard run because the Rams (14-5) superior to subsequent Sunday’s NFC championship recreation at house towards the San Francisco 49ers.
Brady accomplished 30 of 54 passes for 329 yards, one landing and one interception. He was sacked thrice and misplaced a fumble.
Fournette additionally scored on a 1-yard run for Tampa Bay, which pulled inside 27-20 on Brady’s 55-yard TD throw to Mike Evans, who made the catch with Jalen Ramsey in pursuit with 3:20 left.
The Bucs (14-5), who misplaced to the Rams for third time in two seasons, had been attempting to turn out to be the primary group to repeat as Super Bowl champions for the reason that Brady-led New England Patriots through the 2004 season.
Stafford performed one in every of his greatest video games of the season within the September assembly, when he threw for 4 touchdowns and no interceptions in a 34-24 Rams win in Los Angeles. He received off to a different quick begin Sunday, finishing 9 of his first 12 passes for 176 yards and the TDs to Blanton and Kupp to open a 17-3 lead early within the second quarter.
It was 20-3 at halftime, and the Bucs had been lucky their deficit wasn’t larger. With the Rams on the verge of scoring once more within the closing seconds of the second quarter, Cam Akers fumbled on the Tampa Bay 1 and Tampa Bay’s Antoine Winfield recovered to maintain the defending champs to maintain from falling behind.
Akers initially was dominated down by contact, however a prolonged evaluate of the play decided the ball was starting to return unfastened earlier than the operating again’s helmet hit the turf.
The Rams constructed the result in 27-3 on Stafford’s quarterback sneak, with assist alongside the best way from some uncharacteristic errors by the Bucs. That included unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on defensive sort out Ndamukong Suh for taunting and Brady, who was flagged whereas arguing unsuccessfully for what he felt ought to have been a penalty on the Rams for a success that appeared to bloody his lip.
The Rams had been beneficiant, too, persevering with to harm themselves within the second half.
Kupp, who had 9 catches for 183 yards, misplaced a fumble, and the offense didn’t benefit from Von Miller sacking Brady to a power a fumble on the Tampa Bay 25 when middle Brian Allen snap sailed previous Stafford in shotgun formation and recovered by the Bucs.
Finally, Suh pressured a second fumble by Akers on the Los Angeles 30, giving Brady a possibility to tie it within the final two minutes.
Evans completed with eight catches for 119 yards. Fournette, activated from injured reserve after lacking 4 video games with a hamstring pressure, rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries and had 9 receptions for 56 yards.
Rams: Played with out LT Andrew Whitworth, who was damage through the earlier week’s wild-card spherical victory over Arizona.
Buccaneers: Wirfs’ backup, Josh Wells, injured an ankle within the third quarter however returned. … Backup RB Ronald Jones (ankle) was inactive. … CB Carlton Davis left the sector favoring his proper shoulder late within the first half however completed the sport. … Punt returner Jaelon Darden left with a doable concussion within the fourth quarter..
Rams: Host the NFC championship recreation towards the NFC West-rival 49ers, who’ve crushed Los Angeles six straight instances.
Buccaneers: Await phrase on whether or not the 44-year-old Brady will retire or return for a twenty third NFL season.
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