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Quarterback Matthew Stafford was intercepted twice as the Titans routed the Rams in front of a national TV audience on Sunday Night Football. Los Angeles took a first quarter lead on a 34-yard field goal by Matt Gay. Visiting Tennessee took the lead for good early in the second quarter on tight end Geoff Swaim's 2-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. On the very next play from scrimmage, Stafford attempted to evade a pass rush in his own end zone, and his errant toss was intercepted by Titans free safety Kevin Byard, who returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Tannehill later added a 1-yard touchdown run just before the two-minute warning to put Tennessee ahead 21-3 at halftime. Gay converted two field goals in each of the final two periods, but new Titans running back Adrian Peterson scored on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter to put the Titans up 28-9. Stafford ended his day with a 3-yard touchdown pass to running back Sony Michel as the Rams fell to 7-2. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey had an interception to go along with three tackles for the Rams defense.
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A week after a dismal loss to Tennessee on Sunday Night Football, the Rams found themselves dominated by the host 49ers on Monday Night Football for their worst loss of the season. San Francisco, which had lost five of their last six games, was sparked by the play of free safety Jimmie Ward, who intercepted a deep pass by Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford at the San Francisco 7. The 49ers then marched 93 yards in 18 plays, capping the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to tight end George Kittle. On the Rams' next possession, a Stafford pass intended for Tyler Higbee bounced off the Rams tight end and into the arms of Ward, who returned his second interception 27 yards for a touchdown. The Rams answered on their next possession as Stafford and Higbee connected for a 10-yard TD pass to finished a 7-play, 75-yard drive. But the 49ers again moved methodically against the Rams defense, going 91 yards in 11 plays before wide receiver Deebo Samuel ran in from 8 yards out to give San Francisco a 21-7 lead. The 49ers added a field goal by kicker Robbie Gould while Garoppolo and Samuel connected on a 40-yard scoring play to give San Francisco a 31-7 lead. Kicker Matt Gay's 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter finished the scoring for the Rams, who fell to the rival 49ers for the fifth straight time. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp had 11 receptions for 122 yards, while fellow wideout Odell Beckham Jr. had two receptions for 18 yards in his debut with the club after signing midseason as a free agent three days earlier.
Despite building a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, the Rams squandered their chance to lock up the NFC's No. 2 seed as well as the NFC West title in falling to rival San Francisco for the sixth straight time. The loss, which snapped a five-game win streak for the Rams, was also the first under head coach Sean McVay in which his team had led at halftime (a streak that had stretched to 45 games). Los Angeles built its first half advantage thanks to kicker Matt Gay's 43-yard field goal in the first quarter and two touchdown receptions by tight end Tyler Higbee from quarterback Matthew Stafford. But the 49ers got on the scoreboard as the second quarter ended on a 42-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould, then seized the game's momentum by scoring twice in the third quarter as versatile wide receiver Deebo Samuel scored on a 16-yard run and then tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings to tie the game at 17-17. The Rams turned the tide in the fourth quarter when cornerback Jalen Ramsey made an acrobatic interception of Jimmy Garoppolo in the end zone, which sparked a 92-yard touchdown drive. Stafford, who finished with 238 yards passing to set a new Rams single-season passing yards record (4,886 yards), found Cooper Kupp for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 2:29 remaining to take a 24-17 lead. Kupp, who finished with a game-high seven catches for 118 yards and a score, ended the season leading the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yardage (1,947), and touchdown catches (16) to become only the fourth player in pro football history to lead the league in all three categories in the same season, and his numbers for receptions and receiving yards were the second-highest in NFL records. But after the teams traded punts, the Rams were unable to stop the 49ers as Garoppolo threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jennings with 26 seconds left. In overtime, the 49ers drove 12 plays in 69 yards to set up a 24-yard field goal by Gould for a 27-24 lead. With under two minutes left, the Rams drove to near midfield but Stafford's final pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. was intercepted by 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas to end the game. Despite the loss, Seattle's 38-30 win at Arizona that ended minutes earlier clinched for the Rams their third NFC West Division title in five seasons.
Hosting the first-ever playoff game on Monday Night Football, the Los Angeles Rams thoroughly dominated NFC West rival Arizona in the first postseason game held at SoFi Stadium. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had an efficient and effective night, completing 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. His first scoring pass went to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on a 4-yard catch midway through the first quarter that was the first postseason touchdown of Beckham's career. In the second period, Stafford and Beckham connected again on 30-yard pass that helped to set up a 1-yard score by Stafford to put the Rams ahead 14-0. L.A.'s defense smothered the Cardinals throughout the first half, holding Arizona without a first down on its first four drives. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was constantly harassed by Rams defenders and was held to just 143 total yards, including just six yards rushing. Facing third-and-7 from the Arizona 4, Murray tried to evade Rams linebacker Troy Reeder and as he fell threw a desperation pass that was easily intercepted at the 3-yard-line by cornerback David Long Jr. and resulted in the shortest interception return for a touchdown in NFL playoff history. In the third quarter, Beckham fielded a lateral from Stafford, then tossed a 40-yard pass to running back Cam Akers as the Rams drove down the field on their first possession of the second half. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown reception from Stafford. Kupp finished with five receptions for 61 yards, Beckham had four catches for 54 yards, and tight end Tyler Higbee added three receptions for 46 yards. Akers and Sony Michel combined for over 100 yards on the ground as the Rams offense was turnover free. On defense, linebacker Von Miller led the team with six total tackles including a sack, while defensive tackle Marquise Copeland added an interception. Kicker Matt Gay converted two field goals (37, 46) in the fourth quarter and punter Johnny Hekker had all five of his punts downed inside the 20. With the victory, Rams head coach Sean McVay tied John Robinson for the most postseason wins as a coach in team history (Robinson was 4-6 in the playoffs from 1983 to 1991).
Kicker Matt Gay's 30-yard field goal as time expired sent the Rams to the NFC Championship Game for the 11th time in franchise history. Los Angeles built a 27-3 lead over the defending Super Bowl champions before Tampa Bay rallied to score 24 unanswered points to tie the game with 42 seconds remaining. Gay converted field goals of 26 and 40 yards in the first and second quarters, respectively, while quarterback Matthew Stafford threw touchdown passes of 7 yards to tight end Kendall Blanton and 70 yards to wide receiver Cooper Kupp to put the Rams ahead late in the first half. Cornerback Nick Scott picked off a pass by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady to set up another Rams scoring opportunity with under two minutes remaining, but running back Cam Akers, making his first start of the season, was stripped of the ball at the Tampa Bay 1 to leave the score 20-3 at halftime in favor of Los Angeles. Stafford added a touchdown on a 1-yard sneak to put the Rams up by 24. After the Buccaneers added a field goal, a fumble by Kupp on the Rams' next possession was recovered by Tampa Bay, leading to a 1-yard touchdown by Leonard Fournette. Los Angeles squandered opportunities to put the game away, as linebacker Von Miller's strip sack of Brady gave L.A. a first down at the Tampa Bay 25, only for an errant shotgun snap on the Rams' next offensive play to turn the ball right back to the Buccaneers. Later in the fourth quarter, the Rams drove down the field, but Gay came up short on a 45-yard attempt with 6:36 remaining. Following another exchange of punts, Brady threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Evans to close to within 27-20. On the Rams' next possession, Akers fumbled for the second time in the game, giving Tampa Bay the ball at L.A.'s 30. Seven plays later, Fournette scored his second touchdown of the day on a 9-yard run to tie the score. With just 42 seconds remaining, Stafford shrugged off a first down sack and connected with Cooper Kupp for a 20-yard gain to the Rams' 44. Stafford and Kupp hooked up on the very next play for a 44-yard pass over the middle as Kupp (9 receptions, 183 yards) beat Buccaneers free safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in single coverage down to the Tampa Bay 12. Stafford then spiked the ball with four seconds remaining to set up Gay's winning kick. It was the Rams' third win over the Buccaneers in three postseason meetings, the last two occurring in NFC Championship Games in 1979 and 1999. 350c69d7ab