Rams News: Matthew Stafford Credits Cooper Kupp For ‘Love Of The Game’ Route To Beat Buccaneers

Originally published by RamsNewswire.com

Things weren’t looking great for the Los Angeles Rams in their divisional-round game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Rams jumped out to a big 27-3 lead, but then let the Buccaneers back in it with four fumbles and a missed field goal. Tom Brady took advantage and brought his team all the way back, tying it at 27 with just 42 seconds remaining.

L.A.’s ensuing drive began with Matthew Stafford being sacked, forcing the Rams to burn their final timeout. Most teams would have just taken a knee to send the game to overtime at that point, but the Rams didn’t do that.

Stafford found Kupp for a 20-yard catch and the star wide receiver was able to get out of bounds. Then on the following play, the Buccaneers sent an all-out blitz, which allowed Kupp to get open deep and Stafford dropped in a perfect 44-yard pass to put the Rams in field goal range to win the game.

After the game, Stafford credited both Kupp and Sean McVay for making that play happen.

“Just try to get it into a good spot. We were going into the wind there a little bit. You could feel it on the field goal previous that we tried. Got beat up by the wind like crazy. Just trying to give ourselves a chance at it. The first down play, I don’t know. I was thinking I was going to run it. That was a poor idea. Then Cooper [Kupp] did a great job on the second [catch] of winning. Fought through some contact at the top of his route and did a great job of getting out of bounds. Then, we just kind of jumped the ball, which I thought was great. Sean [McVay] was in my ear telling me, ‘Hey, let’s go fast. Let’s not let them set their pressure, whatever it is.’

“They decided to bring the house and go to zero [coverage]. The route that Cooper is running there is – we describe it a lot of times in our meetings is 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. I felt it after the snap, kind of recognized it was going to be an all-out pressure and was able to put it to a good spot. Coop made a great catch. Then we just clocked it with enough time and Matt [Gay] came in and did his thing, which is awesome.”

Stafford also expanded on what that play, and the Rams winning to reach the NFC Championship Game, means for him personally.

“It means a lot. That’s a lot of hard work for a lot of years going into a short amount of time. A lot of hard work this year, too, with some great teammates. That’s the thing I’ve loved and I’ve really appreciated [about] being a part of this team is how many guys are pulling the rope in the right direction. Doing everything they can to be prepared for those moments. Like I said, [wide receiver Cooper Kupp] is the last guy I would have thought was going to get that ball before the ball was snapped. He was ready, he was running and made a great play. I don’t know. [I’m] taking it all in, loving every minute of it. Working my tail off, trying to enjoy every situation that we are in, every opportunity that we earn. I’m loving going to battle with these guys. Our defense is playing unbelievable. We put them in some tough spots tonight. Four fumbles is inexcusable. We can’t do it and we will be better for it.”

Stafford and Kupp have had a great connection all year, so to see them come up with the biggest play of the season when things seemed to be spiraling for L.A. was not a surprise at all.

There’s still some work to be done though as the Rams will now host a familiar opponent in the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

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