For the first time in his career, quarterback Matthew Stafford will play in the NFC Championship Game.
In his first year with the Los Angeles Rams, he has guided his team to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. The latest step was taken in the Rams’ 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
In the win, Stafford finished 28-for-38 passing for 366 yards and two touchdowns. He led his team to a 20-3 lead at the halftime break, headlined by touchdown passes on two of the team’s first three possessions.
The lead was far from safe, however, with the Buccaneers boasting one of the all-time great signal-callers in Tom Brady. The veteran quarterback from Michigan slowly rallied his troops, dicing the Rams’ lead from as much as 24 to just seven with a late touchdown strike to Mike Evans.
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The tide turned even worse, when Rams running back Cam Akers lost his second fumble of the game. Recovering deep in L.A. territory, Brady and company took over, and promptly tied the game when Leonard Fournette scored on a fourth-and-1 from nine yards out.
Stafford showed up when it mattered most, though, as he connected with Cooper Kupp for a 44-yard gain. He spiked the ball to stop the clock, then kicker Matt Gay drilled a 30-yard field goal to win the game as time expired.
Stafford has secured the first two playoff wins of his career, after going 0-3 in the playoffs in 12 years with the Detroit Lions.
The Rams will now return home to SoFi Stadium to take on NFC West rival San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.