If you were writing a Disney movie, isn’t this how you would write it? After a last second victory over Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Rams are headed back home to SoFi stadium for the NFC Championship Game.
Their opponent will be the team they have an 0-6 record against over the past three seasons. The Rams’ arch nemesis, or kryptonite, perhaps. However, this is exactly the outcome that the Rams wanted.
This past Sunday’s game was an absolute all time thriller. After having a demanding lead for most of the game, Tom Brady did what we all knew he would do. Brady rallied his team back in it, and give them a chance to win the game. However, Matthew Stafford and the Rams drove down the field with :42 left on the game clock.
Led by a Stafford 44 yard bomb to Cooper Kupp in the closing seconds, the Los Angeles Rams pulled off the unthinkable. After a spike, Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay kicked the walk-off winner.
Although it was a fantastic finish, let’s get one thing straight: The Los Angeles Rams dominated the Buccaneers. Once up 27-3, the Rams physically dominated Tampa Bay in all three phases. The Rams had four costly giveaways that let Tampa come back into the game.
Three fumbles between Cam Akers and Cooper Kupp, along with an aborted snap by Brian Allen all gave the Bucs more life than they ever should have had. Brady and company were dominated by the Rams defense for the majority of the contest. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams offense were operating at will.
For Los Angeles Rams fans, this game started to become eerily familiar in the second half. The last time the Rams squandered a huge lead in the second half riddled with turnovers? Week 18 at SoFi Stadium, against the San Francisco 49ers.
You see, Sean McVay has come out with excellent game plans in the last three weeks. The Rams have come out of the gate hot, boasting a first half score of 58-3 in the three contests. The problem has been sustaining those leads, and not giving their opponents an inch.
In the Wild Card match up, the Rams did a great job of suffocating Arizona. Against the 49ers and Bucs, not so much. The Rams must work on ball security, game management, and knowing when to be aggressive or conservative.
This week, the past is all out of the window. The Los Angeles Rams want to host Super Bowl LVI at home. The only thing standing in their way are the San Francisco 49ers. Shanahnan and the 49ers aren’t flashy. The Rams know exactly what kind of football game this will be. Man vs man, will vs will – a battle every single snap. This is not only a shot at bragging rights and payback, but a shot at an opportunity to hoist the elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy.
As they have all postseason, the Los Angeles Rams will lean heavily on their top-paid stars to beat the 49ers. Von Miller had a huge game against Tampa Bay, pressuring Tom Brady all afternoon. Miller had what should have been a game-clinching strip-sack in the fourth quarter. The former Bronco has a sack in each of the last six games.
Aaron Donald has wrecked havoc in the two playoff games, as usual. Despite getting beat for a late touchdown Sunday, Jalen Ramsey is playing at an excellent level for this Rams team. His play elevates others around him, and brings smarts and grit to the Rams’ secondary.
Cooper Kupp has continued his historic season, putting up nine catches for 183 yards and a score Sunday against the Buccaneers. Kupp had a costly fumble in the second half, but made up for it with consecutive deep balls of 20 and 44 yards on the last drive.
Kupp should be in the MVP conversation. The receiver out of Eastern Washington is the first receiver in NFL history to tally over 2,000 receiving yards in the regular and postseason. His 2,091 yards this year surpassed Larry Fitzgerald’s 1,977 in 2008.
The pressure will be on for these stars to duplicate their success on Sunday night. However, all eyes will be on none other than the 13 year signal caller who just got his first two playoff wins. Matthew Stafford FINAllY got his playoff moment in the Divisional Round.
The Los Angeles Rams quarterback performed well all day long. After some miscues on offense that let Tampa in the game, he found himself in a situation that was all too familiar. His team was tied with :42 seconds left in the 4th quarter, with a chance to lead them to a win. He did just that. Stafford took a big shot from Suh and then got up to clock the ball to set up the game-winning field goal. Leading the Rams down the field, clocking the ball, and setting up the victory.
He smells blood in the water, and wants to “steal your soul”. That is the type of quarterback the Rams have. One who wants the ball in his hands at the end of the game, with an opportunity to take it from you.
These are the moments the quarterback was feigning for when he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. All of the doubters said he wasn’t a winner, couldn’t win the big game, or that he crumbled under pressure. Stafford has his team one win away from hosting Super Bowl LVI.
The lights will be bright this Sunday night, and all the glitz and glamour will be present. There will be plenty of stars in attendance, with a huge Hollywood feel in the building.
Make no mistake about it, though. This game will be anything but pretty. This will be a knock out drag out brawl between two teams who know each other better than anyone in the NFL. Sunday night won’t be about Xs and Os. No, it’s going to be personal.
This game is about payback.
It will be about who has more in the tank. Who has more will. Who is more disciplined and determined. This game is about destiny, and the pursuit of an eternal part in history.
All of the moves made by the Rams over the last three years were in pursuit of getting back to the Super Bowl. Will these Rams finally get over the hump?
The Los Angeles Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night at 6:40 PM ET at SoFi Stadium.