Gay hiking

Matt Gay’s 30-yard FG lifts Rams over Tom Brady and Buccaneers in NFC Divisional Round – Reuters Sports News

TAMPA, Fla. — Matthew Stafford topped Tom Brady in the final minute, moving the Rams into position for a last-second basket 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 binding drive.

Stafford threw for 366 yards and two touchdowns, and Matt Gay’s 30-yard field goal as time expired sent the Rams (14-5) to next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at home against the San Francisco 49ers .

Brady rallied the Bucs from a 27-3 second-half deficit with the help of three Los Angeles turnovers, tying the game on Leonard Fournette’s 9-yard run in fourth-and-inches with 42 seconds left. The NFL’s all-time passer leader didn’t get a chance to finish the job.

And it’s uncertain whether this will be the last game for Brady, who is undecided about his retirement.

Stafford led the Rams downfield after the ensuing kickoff, using full passes for 20 and 44 yards to league receptions leader Cooper Kupp to set up Gay’s third field goal of the day.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Stafford said. “I mean, we definitely let them back into the game with a bunch of errors in attack. Our defense played exceptionally well. We need to clean up a few things, do a little better in the turnover department.

“They’re a tough team, man, that’s what we all are. I’m just happy to have won and to keep going.

Earlier, Stafford found Kupp wide open behind the Bucs’ secondary on a 70-yard scoring play that put Los Angeles up 17-3 early in the second quarter.

“Man, he’s the heart and soul of this offense,” Stafford said. “What he’s capable of down, down, whether it’s the passing game, the running game – he’s an incredible competitor.”

Stafford, who had never won a postseason game before beating Arizona in the previous week’s wildcard round, completed 28 of 38 passes without an interception. The 13-year-old veteran also scored on a 1-yard run as the Rams (14-5) advanced to next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at home against the San Francisco 49ers.

Brady completed 30 of 54 passes for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

Fournette also scored on a 1-yard run for Tampa Bay, which shot within 27-20 on Brady’s 55-yard TD throw to Mike Evans, who caught Jalen Ramsey in pursuit with 3:20 to go. player.

The Bucs (14-5), who lost to the Rams for the third time in two seasons, were trying to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the Brady-led New England Patriots in the 2004 season.

Stafford had one of his best games of the season in the September meeting, when he threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 34-24 Rams win at Los Angeles. He got off to another fast start Sunday, completing nine of his first 12 passes for 176 yards and touchdowns to Blanton and Kupp to open a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter.

It was 20-3 at halftime, and the Bucs were lucky their deficit wasn’t bigger. As the Rams came close to scoring again in the closing seconds of the second quarter, Cam Akers fumbled at Tampa Bay 1 and Tampa Bay’s Antoine Winfield recovered to keep the defending champions from falling behind.

Akers was initially eliminated by contact, but a lengthy review of the play determined that the ball was beginning to come loose before the running back’s helmet touched the turf.

The Rams built the lead to 27-3 over quarterback Stafford, with the help of some unusual Bucs errors along the way. This included unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for taunting and Brady, who was flagged as he unsuccessfully argued for what he felt should have been a penalty against the Rams for a hit that appeared to him bleed lip.

The Rams were also generous, continuing to hurt each other in the second half.

Kupp, who had nine catches for 183 yards, lost a fumble, and the offense didn’t take advantage of Von Miller sacking Brady to force a fumble at the Tampa Bay 25 when center Brian Allen passed Stafford in rifle formation hunting and recovered by the Bucs.

Finally, Suh forced a second fumble from Akers at the Los Angeles 30, giving Brady the chance to equalize it in the final two minutes.

Evans finished with eight catches for 119 yards. Fournette, activated from injured reserve after missing four games with a strained hamstring, rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries and had nine receptions for 56 yards.

INJURIES

Rams: Played without LT Andrew Whitworth, who was injured in the previous week’s win over Arizona.

Buccaneers: Wirfs’ replacement Josh Wells injured his ankle in the third quarter but returned. … RB substitute Ronald Jones (ankle) was inactive. … CB Carlton Davis came off the field favoring his right shoulder late in the first half but finished the game. … Punt returner Jaelon Darden left with a possible concussion in the fourth quarter.

FOLLOWING

Rams: Host the NFC Championship Game against the NFC West rival 49ers, who have beaten Los Angeles six straight.

Buccaneers: Wait to hear if Brady, 44, will retire or return for a 23rd season in the NFL.