In one of the best playoff games in recent memory. The Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers went all the way down to the wire in another instant classic including Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.
The game began with the Bucs getting the ball first which they weren’t able to produce much other than a solid couple of runs by Leonard Fournette. But the Bucs had to punt the ball away giving the Rams the ball which Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford wasted no time immediately getting the ball moving through the air putting them in scoring position. However, a RedZone stand by the Bucs only held the Rams to three points. After another Rams defensive stand, however, the Rams capitalized scoring a touchdown making the game 10-0, giving the Rams serious early momentum. The Bucs were able to mount a solid drive and allowed themselves to hit a 45-yard field goal, making it 10-3. The Rams looked as if the momentum they had initially was wearing off, but on 3rd and 20 the Bucs blew coverage and star receiver Cooper Kupp got a 70-yard touchdown off of a bomb by Matthew Stafford. This led to multiple non-scoring drives by both squads until the Rams kicked a 40-yard field goal making it 20-3. Tom Brady on his next drive threw a costly pick in his own territory, but luckily as the Rams drove closer to the end zone, Running back Cam Akers fumbled for the Rams which would end the half at a score of 20-3.
After the half, both teams failed to score and punted, but on the Rams second drive, they drove downfield once more until Matthew Stafford ran a quarterback sneak and scored, giving the Rams a commanding 27-3 lead. The Bucs mustered another field goal on their next drive making it 27-6, and once the Rams got the ball, receiver Cooper Kupp made a rare mistake and fumbled giving the Bucs the ball once again, giving life to the fans in Tampa. This life gave the Bucs their first touchdown drive with a touchdown from running back Leonard Fournette, the score now being 27-13. With another Rams stop, another Brady comeback seemed to possibly be on the horizon, but right when everything seemed to be going right, Tom Brady was stripped by Aaron Donald giving the Rams the ball back. However, just as it seemed the Rams regained control, the snap to Matthew Stafford went past him, having the ball roll all the way to the Rams own 45-yard line giving the Bucs the ball back and rejuvenated hope. This was crunch time for both teams as the 4th quarter clock was rolling and every play had to be perfect. Unfortunately, the Bucs were stopped on a controversial 4th down and it seemed that maybe the comeback attempt would be an afterthought for them. The Rams burned some time and lined up for a 47-yard field goal, but shockingly, the kick by Matt Gay was short, on what is usually an almost certainty for a kick to make the distance from under 50 yards. With the Bucs getting another chance to score, it was once again to no avail as on 4th and 9 Brady missed his backup Tight End Cameron Brate. However, the Rams continued to give the Bucs opportunities as they were once again stopped quickly. This time, Brady wasn’t letting the opportunity slip with him throwing a bomb to receiver Mike Evans scoring a touchdown, making it 27-20 and a one-possession game.
The Rams got the ball back with three minutes twenty seconds left and after two plays Cam Akers once again fumbled for the Rams, and the Bucs got the ball and Brady seemed to be on the verge of another massive comeback win. Brady drove downfield to the RedZone, and on 4th and 1 with 46 seconds left, Leonard Fournette missed a defender and walked into the endzone, Ryan Succop knocked down the extra point and it was all tied up at 27-27. Matthew Stafford and the Rams had 42 seconds to mount a drive to score at least a field goal to win the game. Stafford was able to pick up a 20 yard gain with a pass to Kupp. Stafford would go to Kupp once more on another deep shot 44 yards downfield and shoot a bullet through the hearts of Bucs fans. The Rams and Matt Gay lined up for a 30-yard field goal and the Rams would survive the near come back and win 30-27.
The Rams will face the 49ers in the NFC Championship while the Bucs are uncertain on Tom Brady’s status next season as rumors are swirling about possible retirement for the almost undisputed best player in football history.