NFL Playoffs

Rams Survive Buccaneers' Wild Comeback to Advance to NFC Championship

Tom Brady and the Bucs erased a 27-3 deficit before Matthew Stafford and the Rams won on a walk-off field goal

Cooper Kupp
USA TODAY

The Los Angeles Rams held on for the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but just barely.

After the Rams lost four fumbles that allowed the Bucs to erase what had been a 24-point deficit, Matthew Stafford found Cooper Kupp downfield in the closing seconds to set up a walk-off field goal for a 30-27 win in the divisional round on Sunday.

The Bucs, after trailing 27-3, tied the score when Leonard Fournette rushed for a touchdown on fourth-and-1 from the 9-yard line to make it 27-27 with 42 seconds left.

Left with no timeouts, and with Tampa Bay bringing pressure, Stafford found Kupp deep for a 44-yard gain that put the Rams on the Bucs' 12-yard line.

After rushing down field to get to the line of scrimmage, Stafford spiked the ball with four seconds left to set up a 30-yard field goal by Matt Gay.

Kupp finished with 183 yards on nine catches. Stafford completed 28 of 38 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns, finding rookie Kendall Blanton and Kupp for first-half TDs to help the Rams take a 20-3 halftime lead.

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Stafford pushed the lead to 27-3 on a one-yard touchdown run in the third.

That, of course, was nothing to Tom Brady, who once helped to erase a 28-3 deficit in the Super Bowl.

A Bucs field goal followed by a Kupp fumble that led to a one-yard touchdown run by Fournette made it a two-possession game at 27-13. After the Rams went three-and-out, the two teams quickly exchanged possession by fumbling on back-to-back plays.

Brady was strip-sacked by Von Miller to give the Rams the ball at the Tampa Bay 25-yard line. On the ensuing play, the snap from Rams center Brian Allen went over the head of Stafford and was recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul to give the Bucs the ball back at the Los Angeles 45-yard line. The Bucs were unable to take advantage, turning the ball over on downs, though not without controversy. A late hit on Mike Evans after the incompletion on fourth-and-14 was enforced in between downs because the ball hit the ground just prior to the contact.

Following a Rams punt, Brady, on a day when reports said the 44-year-old quarterback will contemplate retirement in the offseason, found Evans for a 55-yard touchdown with 3:20 remaining to pull the Buccaneers within 27-20. On the Rams' ensuing possession, Cam Akers fumbled, giving the ball back to the Bucs on the Los Angeles 30-yard line to set up Fournette's game-tying run.

The Rams had one final drive in them, and this time held on to the ball.

The Rams advance to host the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game Sunday at SoFi Stadium, site of Super Bowl 56, on Feb. 13.

After dethroning the defending champions, the Rams now are one win away from getting a chance to do what the Buccaneers did last year: play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium.

Last season, the Bucs became the first team to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. History may have a chance to repeat itself in Los Angeles for what would be a true Hollywood ending to the Rams' season.

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