I’m going to go ahead and head some of you off at the pass. Yes, I know this is a Detroit Lions football website. Yes, I know we don’t cover the Los Angeles Rams. Hide your head in the sand all you want, but the ending of Sunday afternoon’s epic Divisional Round playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had all sorts of relevancy to the Detroit Lions.
Matthew Stafford, still trying to shake the reputation that he can’t win big games or make any postseason noise, had his first crack at the second round of the playoffs in his first year in Los Angeles. The Rams also have the fate of Detroit’s second first-round pick in their hands.
So when Stafford took the field with 42 seconds left in a tie game—after the Great of All Time somehow led the Buccaneers to a 24-point, second half comeback—a lot was on the line locally.
Stafford, who had taken a backseat for most of the fourth quarter while everything imploded around him, got off to a precarious start. With pressure crashing down on him, he tried to scramble up the middle, but was caught before reaching the line of scrimmage, causing the Rams to burn their final timeout.
But as we learned from a dozen years in Detroit, 35 seconds is still far too much to give Stafford. He immediately found Cooper Kupp for 20 yards, and Kupp found his way out of bounds to stop the clock.
Then Stafford had his franchise moment. With pressure barrelling down on him, Stafford lobbed a deep shot off his back foot, and it fell right into the arms of a wide-open Kupp. Ballgame.
With the Rams win, the Lions pick from them will be no higher than 29 in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. They will face the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC crown next week.