In the biggest game of the year, Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp produced his best statistical performance when the stakes were the highest. Kupp had nine catches for 183 receiving yards and one touchdown in the Rams' 30-27 Divisional Round win over the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.
After a back and forth first quarter, the Rams broke open the game via the connection from Matthew Stafford to Kupp. Stafford launched a bomb down the right sideline to Kupp who took it 70 yards to the house.
With a 17-3 lead, the Rams continued to apply pressure on Tom Brady and the Bucs. L.A. added on 10 more unanswered points, which was good for a 27-3 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter. Thankfully, for the Rams' sake of things, they avoided the dreaded 28-3 Brady curse, but it was close.
Tampa Bay went on a run of their own in the third quarter, coming up with critical stops and even more impactful, forcing the Rams to turn over the ball. A fumble from Kupp at the end of the third quarter led to a Bucs touchdown that truly swung momentum back in favor of Tampa Bay.
Eventually, the game would come down to 42 seconds remaining all tied up with the ball in the hands of Stafford. He went back to Kupp not once but twice with the game on the line to put the team in position to regain the lead with time expiring.
On the first play of the drive, Stafford hit Kupp on the left side for a gain of 20 yards followed by the next play in which he hit the receiving triple crown winner again one final time to put the Rams in field goal range with a connection of 40 yards. That set up kicker Matt Gay to attempt a 30-yard game-winning field goal to pull out a dramatic finish to rest with the Rams advancing to the NFC Championship.
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Bucs linebacker Lavonte David blamed the final reception from Kupp on a miscommunication from the defense. Whether it was playcalling, a great route or a fundamentally sound throw, Stafford trusted Kupp in the most important moment of the game.
After watching Brady and the Bucs launch an epic comeback, the Rams did everything they needed to do in the final moments to advance to the NFC Championship game. Now, the Rams will try and do what only Tampa Bay has done. Host a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Facing off against a stout 49ers defense next week, the performance of Kupp will once again set up the Rams' success. If Kupp can continue to fight through double teams and stacked coverages, Stafford's downfield throwing attack will inherently continue to thrive.
The Stafford to Kupp connection has been the major component for the team's quick strikes on offense this season, including two playoff victories. With a divisional rival rolling into town that has beaten L.A. the last six times, the time is now for Kupp to continue to shine as the Rams' focal point on offense.
More from Ram Digest:
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- Rams at Buccaneers Divisional Round Closing Odds: Point Spread, Over/Under, Moneyline
- Aaron Donald Receives Fine for Incident With D.J. Humphries in Rams-Cardinals Wild Card Round Game
- Rams' Final Injury Report for Divisional Round at Buccaneers
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