By Earl Heath, Contributing Sorts Writer
The LA Rams and the Tampa Bay Bucs were intended to be a classic Monday Night match-up with Tampa Bay old school legend Tom Brady and up and coming Rams QB Jared Goff. It was the first time they faced each other since the Super Bowl.
Goff got his team off to a good start going 80 yards in 13 plays on their opening drive as he hit Robert Woods with a 4-yard pass.
Trailing 14-7 in the second the Goff led the team on an eight play 75-yard drive connecting with Woods on a 19 yarder to keep the drive going. He hit Van Jefferson on a seven-yarder for his first TD as a pro. The rookie wide receiver was excited after returning to where he once played college ball at Florida.
Goff was clutch all night weather he was rolling out and sitting in the pocket completing 39 of 51 passes for 376 yards. He was one shy of a Monday night record of 40 completions. The team also converted 10 of 12 on third down situations. The win helped the Rams (7-3) tie for first place with Seattle in the AFC West.
“Jared did a great job tonight,” said Sean McVay. “I was very proud of him and the job he did, he really stepped up in a big way.”
With 19 seconds left in the half and no timeouts Goff hit a streaking Woods who raced to the Bucks 21-yard line where he hustled to the line then spiked the ball to stop the clock. That allowed kicker Matt Gay who was recently activated hit a 38 yarder as the clock struck zero for a 17-14 L.A. lead at the half.
“He (Gay) looked like he worked out with Aaron Donald, for a kicker he really looks jacked up,” said McVay.
Earlier last week Johnny Hekker sent McVay and text that said he should sign him. Gay had been on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad for several weeks until he became a free agent. He was replacing Kai Forbath who is out with an injured ankle.
“I like working out with the weights,” said Gay. When asked what does he bench? “It’s respectable.” He hit all his extra points and did miss a 44 yarder before landing the game winner with 2:36 left.
Woods (11 catches 145 yards) and Kupp (12 for 130 yards) are the first ram pair to have at least 10 catches each in the same game. “We were ready and we were well prepared,” said Woods. “The entire group was focused.”
Tom Brady completed 26 of 48 for passes for 216 yards 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. That left him with a passer rating of 62.7 his second lowest of the season.
The defense limited the Bucs (7-4) to 251 total yards. Antonio Brown was the leading receiver with 8 for only 57 yards. He was shadowed most of the game by Darius Williams.
Jordan Fuller returned after an injury and picked off Brady twice the second one was a clincher with 1:56 left in the game.
The RAM secondary had 18 tackles with safety Johnny Johnson III, CB Jalen Ramsey and CB Troy Hill all having six each.
RAM NOTES: The Rams return home Sunday to take on the San Francisco at So-Fi Stadium…The 413 total yards of offense marks the sixth time this season the team had more than 400 yards of offense… It was Goff third straight 300 yard game…His 103rd TD pass allowed him to move ahead of Ram Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in 5th place in Franchise history…The Ram scored 37 points on the opening drive making them second in the league through 11 weeks…
Rams head coach Sean McVay is 32-0 after leading at the half…