Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to keep Kupp with the Los Angeles Rams: losing, 30-27, in the NFC Divisional Round to Inglewood’s finest and ending a bid for Brady’s eighth championship.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line desperately missed Pro-Bowl left tackle Tristan Wirfs as eight-time Pro Bowlers Aaron Donald and Von Miller visited Raymond James to dethrone Brady and the Bucs offense.
Despite only getting sacked three times, Brady kept his legs warm due to collapsing pockets and constant pressure from the League’s second-best defense, which totaled 46 sacks in the regular season.
Against the Rams, Brady threw for 329 yards on 30-of-54 passing, adding one touchdown and one interception.
Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense made their mark early in the contest: building a 20-3 lead by the half.
Tampa Bay’s offense did their best to claw back in the contest throughout the second half: scoring 24 points against the Rams’ 10 to nearly bring the contest to overtime.
Brady found Mike Evans for a 55-yard score and four minutes left in the fourth quarter — bringing the Rams’ lead down to one score. 27-20.
The Bucs found a streak of luck in the second half, extending into an errant fumble by Rams running back Cam Akers on LA’s penultimate offensive drive — giving the ball back to Brady with two minutes left.
A Leonard Fournette trot into the end zone fourth-and-1 tied the game at 27.
The Bucs’ 24-point swing (27-3) felt familiar, but Los Angeles was destined to undergo a different fate than that of the 2017-18 Atlanta Falcons.
Leading a final drive with 40 seconds remaining, Stafford found Cooper Kupp — the NFL’s best statistical receiver — for a 21-yard gain and once more when he ran behind Bucs safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. for a 44-yarder — setting the Rams up in Tampa Bay’s red zone.
Kupp caught the back-foot bomb from Stafford and set Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay for a 33-yard game-winner.
He kicked the field goal and sealed their spot against the Niners in the NFC Championship Game.
Cooper Kupp previously caught a 70-yard touchdown in the first quarter to go up 17-3 — extending his chemistry with Stafford into the Divisional Round matchup.
All of Brady’s efforts to keep his 22nd season in the NFL alive were honorable, but the Rams stuck to their plan to retire his season two games short.
Stafford earned his second postseason win: shaking off the Detroit demons to lead a turnover-less performance. He finished completing 28-of-38 passes for 366 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.
Fournette ran for 51 yards on 17 carries, adding two touchdowns and 56 receiving yards. Mike Evans caught eight passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
The Niners are 6-0 in their last six matchups against Sean McVay’s Rams. Los Angeles waits on their testy opponent at SoFi Stadium next Sunday, while the Bucs wait on Brady’s decision to play for a 23rd season.
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