The Los Angeles Rams advanced to the NFC championship game after a third walk-off field goal and underdog victory in the 2022 NFL divisional round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
The Rams, who earned their third NFC West title in five seasons, proceeded to the playoffs with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Monday’s wild-card game.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers (14-4) topped the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 last Sunday to claim their sixth division championship and first since capturing the NFC South in 2007.
Tom Brady, who guided the Bucs to success in Super Bowl LV last year and enabled Tampa Bay to come back from a 27-3 deficit against the Rams to tie the NFC Divisional Round match with 42 seconds to go.
But, on the final drive, Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford threw straight passes of 20 and 44 yards to wide receiver Cooper Kupp, establishing Matt Gay for a 30-yard field goal. Every one of the three NFL playoff games played this weekend was decided by a field goal as time expired for the visiting club.
Stafford’s one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter increased the margin to 27-3. It was nothing, of course, to Tom Brady, who once helped his team overcome a 28-3 hole in the Super Bowl.
A Buccaneers field goal, followed by a Kupp fumble that resulted in Fournette’s one-yard touchdown run, made it a two-possession game at 27-13. Following the Rams’ three-and-out, the two teams swiftly switched possession by fumbling on consecutive plays.
Living legend in the building.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 23, 2022
Road-heavy path to Super Bowl
Von Miller strip-sacked Brady, giving the Rams the ball at the Tampa Bay 25-yard line. On the next play, the kick from Rams center Brian Allen went over Stafford’s head and was intercepted by Jason Pierre-Paul, giving the Buccaneers the ball at the Los Angeles 45-yard line.
The Buccaneers were unable to capitalize, handing the ball over on downs, albeit not without dispute. Because the ball impacted the ground just ahead of the contact, a late hit on Mike Evans was imposed in between downs following the incompletion on fourth-and-14.
Following a Rams punt, Brady found Evans for a 55-yard touchdown with 3:20 left to move the Buccaneers to within 27-20. Cam Akers fumbled on the Rams’ next possession, passing the ball to the Bucs on the Los Angeles 30-yard line, setting up Fournette’s game-tying run.
With 46 seconds remaining, Fournette’s 9-yard touchdown run knotted the game at 27-27. Stafford only needed two completions totaling 64 yards to Kupp to keep the Rams and Gay in position to succeed.
The Rams had one more drive left in them, and this time they were able to keep the ball.
They will face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium, the venue for Super Bowl 56.
After ousting the reigning champs, the Rams are now one win away from repeating the Buccaneers’ feat of playing in the Super Bowl at their home arena.
Fresh off becoming the first player ever to have a 30-yard catch and 30-yard throw in a playoff game 😤 @obj
— NFL (@NFL) January 23, 2022