The Los Angeles Rams did nearly everything in their power to give away Sunday’s playoff game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they came through in the end. They can credit Matthew Stafford and his clutch play at the end of the game for helping them advance.
The Rams led 27-3 midway through the third quarter. Then they fumbled three times, went 3-and-out twice, and missed a field goal by kicking it short. They allowed the Bucs to tie the game 27-27 with 42 seconds left.
But Stafford and Cooper Kupp made sure that the collapse didn’t even matter.
Rather than play for overtime, Stafford continued to pass in the final 40 seconds. He threw to Kupp twice, including a 44-yard bomb deep to the middle of the field to set up the winning field goal.
The story of the game could have been the Rams collapsing in pathetic fashion. Instead, the story turned into Stafford coming through with a 30-27 win.
Entering the postseason, some in the media made a big deal about Stafford’s career 0-3 record in the postseason with Detroit. He not only erased that narrative with a win over the Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card game, but he obliterated it with his clutch throws late against the Bucs.
Stafford finished 28/38 for 366 yards, two touchdown passes, and one touchdown run. His Rams will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and they have a special ticket policy in place.
Ndamukong Suh was called for a key unsportsmanlike conduct penalty early in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but the defensive tackle felt the flag was thrown on the wrong person.
Suh forced an incomplete pass by pressuring Matthew Stafford in the first quarter. Both players went to the ground, and Suh was furious with Stafford about something when the two stood up. He pointed in the quarterback’s face multiple times, which resulted in a flag for taunting.
As the official was announcing the penalty, Suh could be heard asking “did you see him kick me?” Suh seemed to think his former teammate was guilty of a cheap shot. You can see the play below:
Ndamukong Suh was flagged for taunting on this play and as the official announced the call, Suh could be heard asking, "Did you see him kick me?!" pic.twitter.com/ihUnZg1gyp
Sean McVay put a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Matthew Stafford to make the Los Angeles Rams a Super Bowl contender. McVay did it despite Stafford having no track record of playoff success, and the coach’s level of faith has not changed.
McVay on Thursday defended his quarterback’s lack of playoff success, offering a firm response when asked if he thinks Stafford needs to prove he can win a playoff game.
“No,” McVay said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “He has an established resume. That’s something that you want to be able to do, but he was instrumental in leading us to our first division title that we’ve had since 2018. That’s a big deal, but now it’s the next step. His body of work speaks for itself, and I don’t think you can just confine it into, ‘Oh, he hasn’t won a playoff game.'”
NFL quarterbacks are often judged by how they perform in the biggest games. That is why Tom Brady is as highly-regarded as he is. Stafford turns 34 in February without those types of signature moments, and when that’s the case, questions will inevitably follow. A late-season spike in interceptions, including eight in his final four games, has only added to the pressure.
Stafford is clearly respected around the league, and his 0-3 playoff record says more about how few chances to succeed he got with the Lions than anything else. If he can put together a strong performance against the Cardinals on Monday, the questions will start to fade.
The Los Angeles Rams aren’t facing the Green Bay Packers this week, but quarterback Matthew Stafford is still ratcheting up a friendly rivalry with his Packers counterpart.
Stafford is dealing with a toe injury ahead of Monday’s Wild Card game against Arizona, and the issue limited his mobility somewhat in the team’s Week 18 game. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Stafford gave a quick update on his toe, and took a shot at Aaron Rodgers in the process.
Matthew Stafford, on his toe injury!!! –
“I’d show it to you, but I don't want to do that. That’s for other guys to do. I’ll keep my toes to myself."
To be clear, there appears to be plenty of mutual respect between Rodgers and Stafford, so this is probably all in fun. It is theoretically possible that the Rams and Packers could see each other in the Divisional round, and the jokes would really be topical if that happened.
The Los Angeles Rams felt like the road team at times during their home game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18, and Matthew Stafford’s wife is asking Rams fans to make sure that does not happen again in the playoffs.
Stafford’s wife Kelly, who has a podcast called “The Morning After,” spoke this week about how Niners fans took over SoFi Stadium last Sunday. She pleaded with Rams fans to prevent it from happening when their team hosts the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs on Monday night. Kelly posted a clip from her podcast on Wednesday and wrote, “My plea. Please don’t sell you (sic) tickets to Arizona fans.”
“I have never seen so many of the opposing team’s fans at a game,” Kelly said. “We came from Detroit. There were a lot of good traveling teams there, but that was wild. … Matthew was on a silent count, Jimmy Garoppolo was not. It was crazy. It made it very hard for us, because I guess we weren’t expecting to be going silent count.”
We highly doubt many Rams fans sold their tickets to 49ers fans. Niners fans probably just beat them to buying the tickets. The Rams are still fairly new to Los Angeles, so they don’t have a huge fan base.
It would be a surprise if Cardinals fans travel as well as San Francisco fans did, but it is obviously something the Rams are going to have to prepare for.
Photo: Nov 17, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford with wife Kelly Stafford during the game between the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Rams will have at least one home game in the playoffs, but it is fair to wonder if that will do them any good. If the situation at SoFi Stadium next Monday night looks and sounds anything like it did on Sunday, the Rams may not benefit from much home-field advantage.
The Rams lost in overtime to the San Francisco 49ers in their regular-season finale. After the game, Matthew Stafford admitted to reporters that it was difficult for the Rams to communicate with one another late in the game. Why? Because of crowd noise at their home stadium.
“We had a chance there at the end of the game. I thought our guys did a good job communicating. It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really, the whole second half,” Stafford said, via Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire. “Our guys did a nice job and we got that lead back. Just didn’t finish it the way we can on offense and could’ve — had we gotten a first down there, the game probably would’ve been over.”
Niners fans tend to travel well, and that was certainly the case on Sunday. The Rams are also still fairly new to Los Angeles, so they’ve had a lot of visiting fans at games this season. The question is whether that will continue in the playoffs.
The Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals next Monday night. Cardinals fans don’t usually travel as well as Niners fans, so crowd noise shouldn’t be a huge issue for Stafford and company … they hope.
Matthew Stafford was arguably the biggest Pro Bowl snub at the quarterback position this year, and one NFL analyst is outraged that the Los Angeles Rams star was not given the nod over Kyler Murray.
During Thursday’s edition of “First Take,” ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said he is downright baffled that Murray was voted to the Pro Bowl over Stafford. He cited the fact that Stafford is ahead of Murray in most major statistical categories. Orlovsky also said he feels Stafford is more valuable to his team, as the Arizona Cardinals went 2-1 while Murray missed time with an injury.
“Matthew Stafford not being in the Pro Bowl and Kyler Murray making it is STUPID!”
“Matthew Stafford’s second in the NFL in touchdowns with 35 behind Tom Brady. Kyler’s like 17th in touchdowns. Matthew’s thrown for 300 yards per game, Kyler’s thrown for 275. The numbers (for Stafford) are just so much better,” Orlovsky said. “I can’t understand for the life of me how Stafford’s not in the Pro Bowl. We’re talking about a guy that, right now, is top five in basically everything at that position.
Orlovsky certainly is not alone. Plenty of people feel Stafford should have made it. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were easy choices, but an argument can easily be made for Stafford over Murray.
Snubs are a given with the Pro Bowl. We already saw one player’s wife rip the voting system, and it would not be a surprise if Stafford feels he was overlooked as well. His teammates almost certainly feel that way.
The Los Angeles Rams may have to overcome some significant offensive line challenges for their game against the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, but Matthew Stafford doesn’t seem all that concerned.
The Rams have several players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Right tackle Joseph Noteboom was added to it on Saturday. Noteboom is typically a backup, but he started in place of Rob Havenstein in Week 14, as Havenstein has also been on the COVID list. That means the Rams may be down to a third-string right tackle on Tuesday. Stafford joked with reporters that he doesn’t care who has to play right tackle, as long as it’s not him.
Matthew Stafford says he is not concerned about who ultimately plays right tackle on Tuesday as long as he doesn’t have to do it.
That’s a good way of looking at it. Offensive line depth is obviously a major issue for L.A. at the moment, especially since Stafford has battled numerous injuries this season. He has looked plenty healthy over the past two games, however, as he threw for 582 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions combined in wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals.
Several teams are dealing with COVID issues this week, which is why the NFL postponed three games. Hopefully that allows the Rams enough time to get some of their starters back.
Matthew Stafford has struggled in his last two games with the Los Angeles Rams after lighting up the stat sheet through the first half of the season. His health may have a lot to do with that, but the team has made no mention of any injuries.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported on Sunday that Stafford has multiple injuries and has been in a “a lot of pain” in recent weeks. He is said to be dealing with an elbow injury in addition to “chronic” back pain.
"Stafford's arm has been in a lot of pain, he has elbow pain and his back has a chronic issue that he deals with every single day. His health is certainly an issue."
If that information is accurate, the Rams should probably expect a call from the NFL. As Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes, Stafford was not listed on the injury report this week. He was listed as limited in Week 9 due to a back issue, but he has not appeared on the injury report since.
Stafford was playing at an MVP level prior to Week 10. However, he has just two touchdowns compared to four interceptions in L.A.’s last two games, which were both losses. His health has likely been a factor.
Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos dropped a comment Wednesday that will probably leave a sour taste in the mouths of Detroit Lions fans.
The Packers are prepping for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams and a quarterback they know well. Matthew Stafford has played the Packers 20 times in his career during his time with the Detroit Lions, so longtime Green Bay players know him well.
Amos is one of them, and he has plenty of respect for Stafford. In his words, it was the Lions that held back Stafford and not vice versa.
Painful but true. After all, Stafford and Bobby Layne are the only two quarterbacks in Lions franchise history to make the postseason in three separate seasons with the team. Now that he’s playing with a strong contender, Stafford is having one of the best years of his career, with 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions.