Matthew Stafford And Cooper Kupp Saved The Rams From Blowing A 27-3 Lead To Tom Brady And The Bucs

The Los Angeles Rams are headed to the NFC Championship game, and for anyone that missed the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Divisional round matchup with the Bucs, that probably isn’t surprising news.

L.A. led 20-3 at the half and by a 27-3 margin in the third quarter, but as the world learned in Super Bowl LI, no lead is safe when Tom Brady is on the other sideline (and you aren’t a team that handles prosperity well). From that point on, the Bucs went on a 24-0 run that was aided by some unbelievable mistakes from the Rams, including numerous fumbles, a 47-yard field goal that somehow missed short, and a bizarre timeout in the final minute when the Bucs had none.

Early in the fourth, it seemed like the Rams would stop the bleeding thanks to a huge play from Von Miller, who got a strip sack of Brady in Bucs territory.

However, on the very next play, the Rams did this.

Still, the Rams defense bowed up, led by Nick Scott with a clutch pass breakup, and forced a turnover on downs that, again, seemed to put a serious damper on a Bucs comeback. The Rams would drive down the field and set up a 47-yard field goal attempt for Matt Gay, who is headed to the Pro Bowl. When it left his foot, it was on line and everyone assumed it would cruise on through. Instead, it somehow fell short and the Bucs, again, had life.

Down 14 with 3:56 on the clock, Tampa still needed something approaching a miracle, starting with a quick strike score which they got in the most improbable of ways, as Mike Evans cooked Jalen Ramsey on an out and up for a 55-yard touchdown with 3:20 to play.

Still, all L.A. needed was a first down to effectively ice the game with the Bucs out of timeouts. After a first down run went for little, Cam Akers broke through the line and got a few yards downfield when disaster struck and Ndamukong Suh punched the ball out for his second fumble of the afternoon in a critical spot.

After a first down got them in the red zone, the Bucs stalled on their first two plays before a third down completion to Cameron Brate got near the first down marker, but was inches short setting up a fourth down. In the moment, it seemed the Bucs didn’t know was a fourth down as they lined up hurriedly in the shotgun. However, the Rams called timeout, which allowed the referees to review the previous play, moving the ball a half-yard closer to the sticks, and gave the Bucs a chance to get their big package in to give the ball to Leonard Fournette, who broke outside and waltzed into the end zone for the tying score.

The Rams tried to steal some yards on a QB draw that went nowhere on their first play after the kickoff, seemingly signaling we were headed to overtime. But then, Stafford and Cooper Kupp came alive, first on a deep out to the sideline that got them near midfield, and then on a bomb down the middle against a zero blitz from Tampa Bay that put them inside the red zone.

After that, L.A. successfully got to the line, let the umpire set the ball (cc: Cowboys), and spiked it to let Matt Gay get a crack at redemption from much closer at the buzzer.

It was an absolutely wild game in a postseason that has been filled with them, as the Rams went from cruising to off the rails to redemption in the course of 22 minutes of game time. On top of the drama of it being the playoffs, it is possible that it’s the last game we’ll ever see Tom Brady play in an NFL game, as he mulls his future at 44 years old.