The Los Angeles Rams defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27 for the right to host the NFC Championship in LA. The Rams squandered a 24-point lead in the second half but still found a way to get in position to hit a Matt Gay 30-yard game-winning field goal. After the game, head coach Sean McVay spoke to the media about the exhilarating win.
McVay on Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford’s end of game hook up
“It’s incredible...They ended up getting the pressure off. They kind of hit it from depth. Matthew recognized it. Cooper was on kind of a vertical route right down the pipe and he put great trajectory on it. Cooper was able to dig out and run underneath it and then the rest is history. It felt like that ball hung up for about 12 seconds.”
I’d like to take this time to respectfully thank Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for calling a zero blitz. Much appreciated.
McVay staying supportive of Cam Akers
“Still have tremendous faith and confidence in Cam Akers. He’s going to be a great player. (There will) be a couple plays he wants back.”
Akers had a rough game in Tampa Bay, fumbling the ball twice in game changing situations. Thankfully the Rams were still able to find a way to win. He will be better going forward with this experience.
McVay praises the defense for responding to adversity
“The defense, their response after a lot of the bad situations that the offense put our guys in, they just kept responding.”
The offense turned the ball over four times against the Buccaneers, taking points off the board and providing Brady with great field position. The defense more than earned their game checks by finding a way to overcome being on the wrong side of the turnover battle.
Matthew Stafford: hut hut huthut— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) January 23, 2022
The Rams center: pic.twitter.com/3IM728jEga
Aaron Donald and defensive front generated consistent pressure on Tom Brady
“We had some plays we was just running, guys were getting free. We had a couple games that got open and we was just staying at them.”
The defense bruised and battered the Tampa Bay quarterback. Brady even got his first ever unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after complaining to the refs about Von Miller’s hit, which left him with a bloody lip. I loved it.
Donald on having to beat the San Francisco 49ers to reach the Super Bowl
“Well, you don’t want it no other way. I feel like it’s like the perfect setting. To get to where we need to get, we got to play a division opponent that got the best of us the last couple of times. You wouldn’t want it no other way than what we got right now. Get ready for a dog fight.”
The third time’s a charm. Those previous six wins mean absolutely nothing as long as the Rams beat the 49ers next week.
Miller on his sack-fumble-recovery on Brady
“I was still celebrating like, ‘Yeah, yeah yeah!’ Then I heard the crowd going crazy. I’m like, ‘Woah. Wait, they got the ball back? ’ I said, ‘They got the ball back?’ I was still celebrating when the Buccaneers defense got the ball, but we quickly got everything back together and we were able to hold them.”
Thank goodness this team knows how to fight through adversity. As McVay stated earlier, the defense did a great job of bailing out the offense after turning the ball over four times.
Miller on this potentially being Brady’s last game
“Nah, it ain’t (going to) be.”
Miller with the breaking news. You heard it here first.
Kupp on the big play to give LA an opportunity at the game winning field goal
“Matthew did a great job just buying time, putting the ball up, letting me run underneath it. I’m not sure exactly how he knew exactly where I was going to end up so quickly, but just a great job hitting me in stride.”
It was the most important throw and catch of the Rams season thus far. The 44-yard bomb will go down in franchise history as one of those moments Rams’ fans will never forget.
Matthew Stafford & Cooper Kupp (44-yd reception)— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 23, 2022
Pass Rushers: 6
Air Distance: 46.7 yds
Win Probability Added: +29% (56% → 85%)
» Bucs rushed six for the first time in the game; Stafford is 32/42, 439 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT vs 6+ rushers this season#LARvsTB | #RamsHouse pic.twitter.com/TpVPRj6UgK
Kupp on facing the 49ers in the NFC Championship
“They’re just a really good football team. Looking forward to the opportunity. It’s going to be fun this week to prepare for them again. (It will) be another division opponent that well be playing for the third time this year.”
It had to be this way. Beating the 49ers for the right to play in the Super Bowl is nothing short of destiny.
Stafford on the “the love of the game route” setting up the game winning field goal
“Sean was in my ear telling me ‘Hey, let’s go fast.’ Not let them set their pressure, whatever it is. They decided to bring the house and go to (cover) zero. The route that Cooper’s running there is, we describe it a lot of times in our meetings as a ‘love of the game route.’ You’re really never getting the ball. You’re just clearing out some area, working for some other routes. They decided to bring everybody, and that’s really the best option at that point.”
The Bucs have lived by the blitz all year long. Against the Rams, they died by the blitz as Stafford has been the best quarterback against the blitz this season.
Matthew Stafford against the blitz vs TB, per TruMedia:— Dan Pizzuta (@DanPizzuta) January 24, 2022
9-of-14, 120 yards, 1 TD, 0 sacks, 0.32 EPA per dropback
Stafford hopes LA packs SoFi on Sunday
“Hopefully it’s one of those games where we come out and its heavy blue and yellow and we have a nice live, loud crowd that makes it tough on them.”
SoFi is too beautiful of a stadium to have all of those ugly crimson jerseys in the stands. With that being said, at least the Rams won’t get caught off guard again by a potential invasion of 49ers fans. The silent count will be on the practice schedule just in case.
Stafford the soul stealer
“It’s a whole lot more fun when you got to make a play like that to win the game and just steal somebody’s soul.”
That’s the quote of the year. Let’s hope the Rams are able to go steal the soul of the 49ers.