Munich – The Los Angeles Rams gave the party crasher in the 30:27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and prevented Tom Brady and Co. from the next historic catch-up race.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Rams were already leading 27-3 and looked like the clear winner for a long time. Due to fumble problems, however, they almost gave up the victory they thought was certain. The Buccaneers then fought back and equalized 42 seconds before the end of the game – it smelled like overtime in Tampa.
Now Matthew Stafford’s hour should come. Despite the vociferous fans against him and the constant pressure on his face from the defense, he put his team within field goal range with two outstanding passes to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. At the end of the season, kicker Matt Gay finally decided the game in favor of the Rams.
It was Stafford’s 43rd game-winning drive since his NFL debut in 2009. During that period, no other quarterback led his team to victory more often than the 33-year-old.
Matthew Stafford made for the playoffs
For Matthew Stafford to have his first ever playoff win this season is almost ridiculous given his undisputed ability. During his time with the Detroit Lions, it was much more due to his former team that he was only able to thrive in the postseason for the first time.
His callousness at crucial moments earned the Rams two more preseason first-round picks when they traded him from Detroit to the City of Angels for Jared Goff. A trade that should have already paid off for many Rams fans.
Stafford also delivered a nearly flawless game against the Buccaneers. He ended up with 366 passing yards and two touchdowns thrown. With a quarterback sneak for another touchdown, he also proved that he doesn’t shy away from physical contact and throws everything into the balance in the playoffs.
Stafford: “I live for moments like this”
After the game, he explained that the signal caller was born for such close games: “In my head I live for moments like this,” he admitted: “Of course I’d rather kneel down three times and finish the game in peace, but it’s a lot more fun to pull off a play like that,” he said of his magnificent pass to Kupp shortly before the end of the game.
“It’s fun to take someone’s soul like that. They thought what an incredible comeback their team had just made and then we came and just took it away from them,” he continued with a healthy dose of glee.
The playmaker was also showered with praise by head coach Sean McVay: “He was incredible throughout the game. His ambition, his aggressiveness and his decision-making – that was just great,” said the Rams trainer.
In addition to Stafford, the top-class passing stations, which have made life easier for the quarterback in some situations throughout the season, were also convincing.
Cooper Kupp once again in MVP condition
When the MVP award is officially presented in two weeks, a grotesque situation is likely to arise. While quarterback Aaron Rogders, who is likely to be crowned MVP, was disappointed in the playoffs, Kupp was able to solidify his claim to the trophy.
However, since only performances from the regular season are awarded when the award is presented, Kupp probably only has outsider chances for the coveted award despite great games in the playoffs. In addition to his two important catches, he convinced the Buccaneers with 183 receiving yards and a touchdown – and once again made the difference.
No player stands for the will of this Rams team as much as Kupp. Although his actions contributed to the progression, he also took the blame that it was so close again on his shoulders.
“As an offensive player, we did a terrible job in the second half. We can’t do that. We mustn’t put our defense in such a bad position,” said the 28-year-old, who helped the Bucs catch up with a lost fumble was. He also makes it clear to the team: If the Super Bowl is to work, they have to play with the same intensity as in the last drive.
Los Angeles Rams: As an unloved super team to great success?
The Championship Game is next Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (Sun. to Mon., live from 12:25 a.m. on ProSieben and ran.de). Defensive superstar Aaron Donald can hardly wait: “It’s the perfect setting. We have to win against a division rival who has always spit in our soup. Get ready for a dirty fight,” he said in conclusion.
The Rams are completely immersed in their role as the unpopular super team. Due to their better record, they have home advantage against the 49ers and are the clear favorites here as well.
Even if many fans don’t like it: with Stafford as leader, with Kupp in MVP constitution and Donald in spoilsport mode, the Rams are almost unstoppable – and are now grabbing the chance at the Super Bowl.
You want the most important NFL news, videos and data directly on your smartphone? Then get the new ran app with push notifications for the most important news in your favorite sport. Available in the App Store for Apple and Android.