Matthew Stafford wanted great games. Against Tom Brady's Bucs, he has one.

INGLEWOOD, Calif .– Matthew Stafford said he wanted those moments. After 12 seasons as a quarterback in Detroit, where his biggest pla...


INGLEWOOD, Calif .– Matthew Stafford said he wanted those moments.

After 12 seasons as a quarterback in Detroit, where his biggest platform was the annual Thanksgiving Afternoon Game and his performances played a supporting role at viewers’ Turkey Dinners, Stafford, 33 , asked to be exchanged. He wanted to play against quality competition in games that mattered.

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stafford had the opportunity. Billed as a forward-looking preview of the NFC Championship game and played in front of celebrities like Mike Tyson and Jason Sudeikis, Stafford faced the fierce pass rush that fueled the Bucs’ Super Bowl victory last season and Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.

Stafford eclipsed them all. The Rams beat the Buccaneers, 34-24, thanks to his strong arm and smart decisions, as well as a strong performance from the Los Angeles defense. Admittedly, Stafford’s performance – 343 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero turnovers – collided with an injury-crippled secondary.

But in front of more than 73,000 fans, Stafford showed he can make the shots necessary to make the home Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium this season a reality. Subsequently, he downplayed the importance of victory.

“Every time we go there it’s a big deal,” Stafford said at a post-match press conference. “It was a big challenge for us, but it was good for us to go out there and play our game.”

His flat response was in stark contrast to the ballast of the two teams leading up to a game that players called a barometer to determine their position in the league. Both were undefeated, considered some of the best in the conference and the NFL. 27-24.

Their 2020 seasons have diverged. Tampa Bay has won eight of its last nine games en route to the Super Bowl. The Rams, bitten by Goff’s irresponsible play, squandered the best-ranked defense in the league towards the end of the season and exited the divisional round of the playoffs.

But the Rams didn’t have Stafford last season, and his play offered a glimpse of what coach Sean McVay’s offense could accomplish with a quarterback able to place the ball anywhere on the pitch.

Stafford completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson in the third quarter, and connected on two touchdown passes to receiver Cooper Kupp and one to tight end Tyler Higbee. After the scoring throw at Jackson, who Stafford had failed to hook up with twice earlier in the game, McVay got so excited he sprinted across the sideline to greet Jackson in a stadium tunnel.

But perhaps Stafford’s most important shot didn’t directly count for a point.

Halfway through the third quarter, Brady orchestrated a 75-yard touchdown to reduce Los Angeles’ lead to 21-14. Facing the Rams third and 10 yards from the 25-yard line, Stafford threw a pass to wide receiver Robert Woods over 20 yards, converting on a crucial play instead of returning the ball to Brady with an opportunity to tie the game. score.

Three plays later, Stafford connected with Jackson for a 40-yard catch and ran to set up Kupp’s second touchdown, a 10-yard catch.

The Rams often failed in long-distance situations last season, in part because they lacked an explosive deep threat at the receiver level and because Goff struggled when defenses didn’t need to respect the racing or gambling action. Now, with Stafford at the helm, McVay can trigger a variety of gambling calls that he might not in 2020.

“As an offense you still don’t want to stagnate,” Kupp said of the unit design with Stafford. “Our job as an offense is not to have to do the same thing over and over again, but to be able to have answers and make things look the same but be different.”

Still, the Buccaneers have played competitively, given their understaffing. Receiver Antonio Brown was unavailable after testing positive for coronavirus this week. Pass thrower Jason Pierre-Paul also did not play due to hand and shoulder injuries.

Secondary cornerback Jamel Dean lost in the first quarter to a knee injury, a blow to a group of positions that had already been exhausted with starter Sean Murphy-Bunting on the injured reserve. McVay and Stafford exploited those absences as soon as receivers easily passed the covers and behind defenders.

Brady, a native of California who had never played an NFL game in Los Angeles, finished with 432 yards and a touchdown pass. He also rushed for a score. The Rams’ defense hit Brady five times and sacked him three times, including an Aaron Donald tackle that forced a fumble that the Buccaneers recovered. While it did give up the big plays at times, the Los Angeles defense generally rallied around the running backs for tackling and ultimately limited Tampa Bay to just 35 rushing yards. Brady led the team with 14.

“They played the kind of game they wanted to play,” Brady said. “If we want to be a team like this, we have to play well in all phases. “

Stafford and the Rams enter a critical phase of the schedule, facing two NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, in Weeks 4 and 5. These clashes will be important to the playoff standings. playoffs for the new 17-game regular season. After that, Stafford will be the one to make sure he and the Rams have even bigger games to play.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Matthew Stafford wanted great games. Against Tom Brady's Bucs, he has one.
Matthew Stafford wanted great games. Against Tom Brady's Bucs, he has one.
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