Rams Advance to NFC Championship Game

Photo by Michael C. Floch

TAMPA, FLA- On a last second field goal courtesy of Matt Gay as time expired, the Los Angeles Rams reached the NFC Championship by  dethroning the reigning Super Bowl champs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27.The game was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, January, 23rd. 

SoFi Stadium will host the NFC Title game next Sunday, when the Rams will host their arch rival in the San Francisco 49ers for a right to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, February 13.  After the Bucs and Tom Brady tied the epic NFL Playoff matchup at 27 apiece in the waning seconds, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford led a game winning drive.

 Matt Stafford was acquired for pivotal moments exactly like this- with the season hanging in the balance. It was Stafford 43rd game winning drive, most among quarterbacks since 2009. 

“This is a resilient team,” said Stafford, “I got great playmakers on the outside. I tried to run on first down in two-man, bad idea. It was just great plays by Cooper there. Great job by the O-line, they tried to bring everybody on the last one. Not a good recipe, so glad we hit it.”

With 42 precious seconds left in the fourth quarter, Stafford hooked up with his favorite weapon, as well as the best wide receiver in the game in Cooper Kupp for two season saving receptions. First, it was a 20 yard catch, than a 44-yard yard catch where Stafford seen Kupp being single covered and put the ball in the hands of the speedy wide receiver at the 10 yard line.

Photo by Michael C. Floch

It will be an NFC West duel between the Niners and the Rams next Sunday , who just met a few weeks ago in the regular season finale, where the 49ers beat the Rams in OT, 27-24. On Saturday night, the 49ers stunned the Green Bay Packers 13-10, at Lambeau field. The Niners have owned the rivalry against the Rams recently, winning the last six contests.
The resilient Rams were dominant early, dominating as Stafford was surgical in the dramatic victory. Going 35 of 46 for 366 yards, and 3 total touchdowns while Copper Kupp caught nine passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.

It marks the second time in the last four seasons the Los Angeles Rams will reach the NFC Championship game. Also, it will be the first time in NFL history a conference championship and the Super Bowl will be held at the same stadium.

Building a cushy 27-3 lead, with 7:11 left in the 3rd quarter, Tom Brady led a furious postseason  rally as we have watched often over the past two decades. The Bucs offense and a few costly Rams blunders turned the game around. In fact, the  Rams became the first team in NFL Playoff history to win despite turning the ball over four times. 

It’s a geographic battle all California sports fans can relate to; the Bay area with such iconic landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39 of San Francisco against the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory in L.A.

The NFC Championship will kickoff at 3:40 p.m. PST on Sunday, January 30 at SoFi Stadium  when the Rams face off against the 49ers for the opportunity to reach the Super Bowl. The NFC Championship will air on FOX.