After being drafted last season in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former Utah kicker Matt Gay was left without a team entering the 2020 NFL season after the Bucs waived him before the start of the season.
So when he found himself attempting a 40-yard field goal with 2:37 remaining in a tie game between his current team, the Los Angeles Rams, and his former team, the Bucs, his primary focus was just helping the Rams get the Week 11 win.
In true Gay fashion, he split the uprights, giving the Rams a 27-24 lead that eventually turned into the final score.
"You can't write it," Gay said postgame. "It's one of those stories that you're sitting on the practice squad, and then the first game you're activated, you're going back to the place you were last year and the place you felt like you should have been and play on prime time on Monday Night Football. There was a lot of emotion for me coming back in."
As a rookie in Tampa Bay last season, Gay converted 77.1% (27-of-35) of his field goal attempts and 89.6% (43-of-48) of his extra points. Unfortunately, he lost the job in training camp to longtime veteran Ryan Succop. He was then signed to the Indianapolis practice before being picked up by the Rams last week. He officially joined the team two days prior to that Monday night kick and the rest is history.
"Watching the way Matt handled himself throughout the game, you could feel there was a lot of confidence," Rams coach Sean McVay said postgame. "I know he had the one miss, but you can tell the difference between a 'miss' and then one of those where 'that looks a little shaky.' He was true all night. Great height, good timing, and he was very accurate. I loved what he did. It was a great snap, great hold, great operation. He made it, and it was as true as it gets."
Now that Los Angeles' season has come to an end following their 32-18 to the top-seeded Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round, the Rams can look towards an offseason that will see them fill numerous holes and address positions of questions.
But due to Gay's success since joining the team, McVay and co. don't have to worry about their kicking issues longterm. Since joining the team in Week 11, Gay went 14-for-16 in field goal attempts and a perfect 16-for-16 in PAT's. He has a long of 51 and went 7-for-8 in field goal attempts 40 yards or longer.
“Man, he is Mr. Automatic as of late,” head coach Sean McVay said in his Tuesday press conference last week. “He’s done a great job and it looks like we found our guy for a long time, really for the future.”
His best game with the Rams came in their wildcard matchup when Los Angeles went into Seattle and took down the No. 3-seeded Seahawks 30-20.
He accounted for 12 of Los Angeles' 30 points by gong 3-for-3 on field goal attempts and a perfect 3-for-3 on PAT's. He got the scoring started for the Rams with a 40-yard and 39-yard attempts, giving them a 6-3 lead midway through the second quarter. He then put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter when his 36-yard attempt was good, giving Los Angeles a 23-13 they wouldn't relinquish.
It's expected that Gay will be back next season, and possibly with a new contract. He signed a two-year, $1.525 million deal with the Rams with an average salary of $762,500. He is expected to earn $850,000 next season.
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