The Los Angeles Rams look playoff-ready.
The team defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24 in Monday's potential postseason preview at Raymond James Stadium. Jared Goff overcame two interceptions and led the way for the victors, who are now 7-3 and tied with the Seattle Seahawks atop the NFC West following a second straight victory.
Despite two touchdown passes from Tom Brady, the 7-4 Buccaneers fell further behind the 8-2 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.
Brady threw two interceptions to Jordan Fuller, the second of which came with less than two minutes remaining to essentially ice the Rams' win.
Notable Player Stats
- Jared Goff, QB, LA: 39-of-51 for 376 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
- Cooper Kupp, WR, LA: 11 catches for 145 yards
- Robert Woods, WR, LA: 12 catches for 130 yards, 1 TD
- Tom Brady, QB, TB: 26-of-48 for 216 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
- Mike Evans, WR, TB: 5 catches for 49 yards, 1 TD
- Chris Godwin, WR, TB: 7 catches for 53 yards, 1 TD
Rams Defense Too Much for Brady and Co. Down the Stretch
The biggest storyline of the game was Tampa Bay's loaded offense with Brady, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski and Ronald Jones II against Los Angeles' red-hot defense.
Entering play, the Rams were first in the league in points allowed per game, yards allowed per game, yards allowed per play, passing yards allowed per game and yards allowed per attempt since Week 4 with players such as Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey leading the way.
That recent dominance was missing for stretches in the early going, though, as Evans powered his way through an overmatched Troy Hill for a touchdown and set up a Leonard Fournette score with precise route-running that drew multiple Ramsey penalties.
It was just a matter of time before the Rams defense arrived.
Tampa Bay managed a mere eight total yards in an ugly third quarter that featured Brady under constant pressure. The all-time great threw an awful interception to Fuller and a deep ball off Brown's fingertips, and he caught a lucky break when a near-fumble in his own end zone was called incomplete.
Brady was clearly flustered and even caught a batted-down pass and threw it again, hoping the officials wouldn't notice. A failed fourth-down pass to Godwin didn't help matters, either.
The only second-half breakthrough for Tampa Bay's offense came on a short field following a Jordan Whitehead interception when Godwin turned in an incredible individual effort to find the end zone.
It wasn't enough, especially as Brady squandered one final opportunity by throwing another pick to Fuller.
Early Burst Just Enough for L.A. Offense
Brady wasn't the only quarterback with dangerous weapons in this game.
Tampa Bay had no answer for the Goff-Cooper Kupp combination right out of the gates. Kupp went over the century mark for yardage in the first half alone as he consistently slotted into space and made defenders miss in the open field.
That forced the secondary to shade his way, which helped lead to touchdown strikes to Robert Woods and Van Jefferson. Woods also tallied 35 yards on a bubble screen to set up a last-second Matt Gay field goal to give the Rams the lead at intermission.
Turns out, the start was something of a mirage against a strong Buccaneers defense.
Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted a screen pass, Gay missed a field goal, and Los Angeles' offense turned into a punt-fest for extended stretches in the second half. It at least broke through with a short field following Fuller's interception, and Goff found Cam Akers for a touchdown out of the backfield.
That touchdown was all but wiped out when Goff threw an interception to Whitehead after the visitors had a chance to put the game away, but he made up for it by leading them into field-goal range with less than three minutes remaining thanks to Kupp and Woods finding openings yet again.
Gay put it through the uprights and gave Los Angeles an impressive victory.
Both teams are at home in Week 12 when the Rams face the 4-6 San Francisco 49ers and the Buccaneers play the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs.