NFL News & Analysis

NFL Divisional Round Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27

Tampa, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The madness of the 2021 NFL divisional round continued on Sunday, with the Los Angeles Rams defeating the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27.

The game initially looked as if it would be a lopsided win for the Rams, but Tom Brady and the Bucs pulled the score level late in the game after being down as many as 24 points.

However, there was still enough time on the clock for The Rams to answer and move downfield with a couple of quick strikes to kick a walk-off field goal to snatch the win.

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Los Angeles Rams

Quarterback

Matthew Stafford enjoyed winning the first playoff game of his career so much he decided to do it all over again a week later.

The Rams traded for the veteran quarterback for games like this, and while the Rams lost their way in the middle, big-time throws from Stafford early and late were a big part of this win.

Running backs

Not only was Cam Akers unable to get much going on the ground — rushing for just 48 yards on 24 carries, 44 of which came after contact — he also fumbled the ball twice, helping Tampa Bay maintain life in the game.

Wide receivers/Tight ends

Cooper Kupp was the game-winner for the Rams, coming up with two huge catches on their final drive to put them in field goal position. However, a fumble earlier in the game was part of the Rams' collapse that allowed the game to become as close as it did.

Routes Run Targets Receptions Yards per route run
Cooper Kupp 41 11 9 4.46
Van Jefferson 39 3 2 0.74
Tyler Higbee 39 6 4 1.31
Odell Beckham Jr. 38 7 6 1.82
Offensive line

The Rams pass-protection held up well in the first half but began to get exposed as the game wore on. Joseph Noteboom filled in admirably for Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, losing just a couple of reps in pass protection.

Defensive line

The Rams pass-rush was the most dominant unit in this game — on either side of the ball. Von Miller recorded an absurd pressure rate of 25.0%, per PFF's first review of the game film, taking backup right tackle Josh Wells to task on a number of reps.

Aaron Donald was also a constant problem for the Buccaneers, with the occasional contribution from Leonard Floyd.

Pass-rushing snaps Pass-rush win rate Total Snaps
Aaron Donald 57 14.0% 71
Greg Gaines 55 3.6% 69
Leonard Floyd 40 17.5% 63
Von Miller 40 27.5% 54
A'Shawn Robinson 16 6.3% 25
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 12 16.7% 16
Justin Hollins 10 0.0% 15
Linebackers

The Rams consciously don’t put a lot of resources into the linebacker position, and Troy Reeder and Travin Howard took the snaps in this game. Both players were solid and limited the damage in coverage. All told, they combined to surrender just 32 yards in coverage.

Secondary

Jalen Ramsey was tasked with taking Mike Evans out of the game, and for a while, it worked. However, his biggest losing rep ended up being a deep touchdown that changed the entire complexion of the game.

Overall, Ramsey allowed seven catches for 108 yards and that touchdown from 13 targets.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback

Tom Brady found himself under regular pressure for the first time in a long time, with a backup right tackle taking the place of an injured Tristan Wirfs — the best pass-blocking right tackle in the league.

Brady averaged 2.26 seconds from snap to pass, and even his adjusted completion rate was just 67.3%. Still, he did manage to execute a comeback only to see his defense give up the big plays to let the Rams regain it in the dying seconds.

Running backs

Leonard Fournette scored a pair of critical touchdowns on the ground and gained some tough yards, but his 13 carries produced only 51 yards, 33 of which came after contact.

Five of Fournette's carries went for a first down, and he arguably should have been a larger part of the game plan early on.

Wide receivers/Tight ends

As expected, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski served as Brady's primary targets.

Evans saw 14 targets to lead the team, while Gronk saw 10 as the second-most on the team. Finding a reliable third option was a challenge, with Scotty Miller at least causing problems with his speed late in the game, catching four of the five passes thrown his way for 38 yards.

Routes Run Targets Receptions YPRR
Rob Gronkowski 54 10 4 1.57
Mike Evans 52 14 8 2.27
Scotty Miller 46 5 4 0.83
Tyler Johnson 33 6 3 0.45
Cameron Brate 29 3 1 0.31
Offensive line

Josh Wells played at right tackle with Tristan Wirfs unable to play, and he was visibly not 100% healthy himself.

Wells allowed pressure on 12.2% of dropbacks but was far from alone in struggling. Donovan Smith couldn’t deal with the Rams' speed and was actually beaten more often than Wells once the help was deployed to the right side of the line. Smith allowed pressure on 15.8% of dropbacks and will likely earn his worst PFF pass-blocking grade of the season.

Defensive line

Tampa Bay’s defensive line performed well against the run but struggled to get as much pressure as they would have liked on Stafford.

Stuffing the run was critical in key situations in the game and bought the offense extra drives. Ndamukong Suh had one of the biggest plays on defense, stripping the ball from Cam Akers and forcing a fumble that Tampa Bay recovered to set up the drive to tie the game.

Linebackers

It’s not often that Devin White outplays Lavonte David, but he did for large periods of the game. White typically struggles in coverage, but he came down with a nice pass breakup and allowed just one catch (albeit for 20 yards). David was targeted much more often — six times — and gave up six catches, three of which moved the chains for a first down.

Secondary

Tampa Bay’s secondary had an eventful day, making good and bad plays throughout the game. They busted a coverage early to allow a big play and then were hung out to dry by an aggressive blitz call on the final drive to give up another one.

Sean Murphy-Bunting was the most targeted member of the group, giving up seven catches from nine targets for 70 yards.

Pass-rushing snaps Pass-rush win rate Total Snaps
Shaquil Barrett 33 3.00% 60
Jason Pierre-Paul 32 9.40% 60
Ndamukong Suh 25 16.00% 47
Vita Vea 21 19.10% 33
Rakeem Nunez-Roches 16 6.30% 32
William Gholston 14 7.10% 21
Steve McLendon 12 0.00% 17
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