Tom Brady made his first career appearance in Los Angeles as the Rams looked to play spoiler against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Matthew Stafford passed for 343 yards and four touchdowns enabling the Rams to defeat the Buccaneers 34-24 on Sunday afternoon at SoFi stadium in a matchup between two high powered NFC teams.
Los Angeles knew they could potentially be in a shootout but were able to contain Brady throughout the game, holding him to only one passing score.
“It’s three games in. Through three games, we’ve done a good job. We’ve done what we can in terms of being 3-0,” Rams coach Sean McVay said on the win.
Stafford finished with a 134 percent passer rating and once again electrified the crowd after connecting with his abundance of weapons through the air.
The Rams (3-0) newly acquired play caller led L.A. on a lengthy 14 play 95-yard drive that ended with a Tyler Higbee six-yard score to give Los Angeles an early 7-0 advantage with 12:22 remaining in the second quarter.
Chris Godwin then tied the game up for the Bucs (2-1) on a two-yard rushing score with four minutes left in the period.
Cooper Kupp continued his stellar play and extended the Rams lead to 14-7 after catching a two-yard score with 51 seconds remaining before halftime.
“We had a lot of guys touch the ball today and make plays. So that’s when we’re at our best,” Stafford said. “I keep saying it but, you know, when we make defenses defend the entire field and everybody on our roster, that’s going to be good for us.”
Kupp had nine catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns while DeSean Jackson had three receptions for 120 yards and a score, including a 75-yard bomb in the third quarter to extend the Rams advantage to 21-7.
“He’s such an explosive football player, seeing that speed on the field, we’re just lucky to have him on our team,” Stafford said on playing with Jackson.
Brady completed 41 of 55 passes for 432 yards and two touchdowns, including a one-yard rushing score in the third to cut the Bucs deficit to 21-14 and one through the air in the fourth.
“We got off to a slow start. Anytime you do that, you’re fighting behind all day,” Brady said on the loss. “I think we played a good team that didn’t turn the ball over. They played well offensively, and we just didn’t make enough plays on offense early to kind of take control of anything.”
Mike Evans finished with eight receptions for 106 yards for the Bucs while Godwin had six catches for 74 yards. The run game for Tampa Bay was nonexistent as the team played from behind throughout the day with Brady shockingly leading the team in rushing with 14 yards on three carries.
“We definitely had some opportunities to make some plays out there to help the team win. Just didn’t get it done,” added Brady.
Kupp found the endzone again in the third on a 10-yard play action rollout pass from Stafford that resulted in the Rams taking a 28-14 lead, followed by two Matt Gay field goals to lift their lead back to 34-17 after Ryan Succop made a field goal for Tampa Bay.
Aaron Donald applied the pressure in the fourth for Los Angeles and constantly forced Brady into getting rid of the ball quickly for short yardage gains with the crowd cheering each time Brady was sent into the turf.
“It’s so loud, I love it, that’s the atmosphere you want to play in,” Donald said. “It’s been great having the fans packed in every week. We need that.”
The Rams will next host the Arizona Cardinals (3-0) in a divisional matchup next Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
“We got a tough, I believe, undefeated Arizona Cardinals team that we’re going to see next week,” McVay said. “And we’re going to be where our feet are planted. We’re going to enjoy tonight and come back ready to work to get after these guys. It’s going to be a tough challenge.”