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5 Takeaways From the Rams' 30-27 Divisional Round Win Over the Buccaneers

What are the main takeaways we learned from the Rams' Divisional Round win over the Buccaneers?

The Rams closed out a last-second finish over the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, pulling off a 30-27 win off the foot of kicker Matt Gay to send L.A. to the NFC Championship.

For a game in which the Rams held a commanding 27-3 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter, it was a rocky finish all the way to the end.

Here are five key takeaways from the Rams' dramatic win over the Bucs:

1. Matthew Stafford played like the quarterback the Rams hoped they were getting for a playoff run when the team pulled off the offseason trade

Stafford has silenced the critics. While he entered his Rams tenure without a playoff win, he now has two. And not only are the Rams winning playoff games, but Stafford has played extraordinary well, completing 75% of his passes for 568 yards, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in his two playoff wins. With questions entering postseason play whether or not the big stage of the playoffs is too big for Stafford to deliver, he's answered those questions with his productivity, as he has the Rams one win away from reaching the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

2. When in doubt, turn to Cooper Kupp

The connection between Stafford and Kupp has unequivocally been one of the league's most dangerous duos this season. Kupp had an uncharacteristic fumble Sunday in Tampa Bay, but when the game reached its point in which the stakes were at the pinnacle, Stafford turned to his No. 1 target. With the game tied in the final minute, Stafford hit Kupp for a 20 and 40-yard reception to then spike the ball to stop the clock with four seconds left, setting up kicker Matt Gay for the game-winning field goal. Kupp totaled his best statistical game of the season, logging nine catches for 183 yards and one touchdown.

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3. Rams received notable contributions from some of the team's unsung heroes

The Rams' star power up and down their roster is notable. But on Sunday in Tampa Bay, the team also received key contributions from some of the unsung heroes on the roster. Backup tight end Kendall Blanton hauled in his first touchdown grab to give the Rams an early 10-0 lead. Safety Nick Scott intercepted a pass and logged two pass breakups. Joe Noteboom stepped in at left tackle in place of Andrew Whitworth as he deals with an ankle injury, and only one quarterback pressure was allowed by the Rams' swing tackle while facing Bucs pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul for most of the game.

4. Matt Gay's kicking efforts continue to haunt his former club

Gay, the Rams Pro Bowl kicker, left a 47-yard field goal attempt short early on in the second half. But in crunch time, he delivered when it mattered most, kicking a game-winner that sent his former team that released him after the 2019 season, eliminated from postseason play. Gay made field goals from the 20, 40 and the final kick from 47 yards out, pushing his season total to 37 kicks made among his 40 attempts.

5. Rams' pass rush is a weapon few teams can relate to

Teams with a superior pass rush can in theory shorten games. While that didn’t occur against Tampa Bay, it wasn’t because the Rams' defensive line didn't apply constant pressure on quarterback Tom Brady. The Rams' trio of Von Miller, Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd each recorded a sack apiece. It was Miller's most impactful game since joining the Rams, posting a 92.1 PFF grade, the highest he’s recorded this season. Miller's 10 quarterback pressures against the Bucs marked a season-high.


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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick and Ram Digest on Twitter @NickCothrel & @RamDigestSI for more Rams coverage.