Kupp rescues Rams to reach NFC Championship Game after Brady's latest fightback

Ben Spratt
Stats Perform
23/01/202223:51
Tom Brady fell agonisingly short
Tom Brady fell agonisingly short

Tom Brady fell agonisingly short of another remarkable playoff recovery as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 30-27 at the last to the Los Angeles Rams in what could yet be the great quarterback's final game.

Discussion around 44-year-old Brady's future increased as this Divisional Round game approached at Raymond James Stadium.

If this was the end for the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who has not committed to playing next year, it befitted the rest of his outstanding career.

Brady will be a spectator next week when the Rams face NFC West rivals the San Francisco 49ers – helmed by his former backup Jimmy Garoppolo – in the NFC Championship Game, but he could hardly have done more to prolong the Buccaneers' title defence.

The Rams led 27-3 halfway through the third quarter, but errors crept into their play and Brady sniffed an opportunity.

Attempting a repeat of his Super Bowl LI fightback from 28-3 down, Brady led the Bucs to 24 unanswered points to tie the game with just seconds remaining.

The veteran had endured a frustrating first half that included his first career penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct as he fumed at officials when a hit from Von Miller left him with a bloodied lip.

That incident had long been forgotten by the time Brady connected with Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown pass, with the possibility of a turnaround that would rank as the joint-fourth largest in postseason history coming into view.

Evans' score made the game 27-20 and another Rams mistake allowed the Bucs to level the scores.

A sloppy second half seemed to have peaked when a Miller strip sack of Brady was immediately followed by LA's snap missing Matthew Stafford, who was looking the other way. Instead, the Rams outdid themselves as Cam Akers' second fumble gave Brady the ball back late on.

Brady handed off to Leonard Fournette and overtime loomed, yet Stafford and triple crown wide receiver Cooper Kupp – having earlier combined for a 70-yard score on third and 20 – had the final say.

A 44-yard completion gave Matt Gay a winning field goal with time up. After a third road win and a third winning field goal in this Divisional Round, now the Rams must beat a 49ers team they have twice lost to this year.

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