The Los Angeles Rams were just a few yards away from upsetting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get back to the .500 mark, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The Rams forced a turnover on downs deep in their own territory with 1:52 left. Tampa Bay had two timeouts left, so the Rams needed one more first down to essentially ice the game. And they sure got close to it.
On 2nd-and-10, Matthew Stafford handed the ball off to star wideout Cooper Kupp. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year looked like he could have made a serious push for the first down, but he decided to slide five yards short to keep the clock moving.
Here’s a replay of it. You can see that he clearly had room to barrel ahead for the first down.
Even if he was short of the first down, Kupp could have brought up a much more manageable 3rd-and-1 or 3rd-and-2 situation. The Rams played it safe by handing it off to Darrell Henderson, who gained one yard to bring up fourth down.
The Rams had to punt the football away, and they became the latest victim of Tom Brady magic.
Of course, it’s unfair to solely blame Kupp on this loss. The Rams could have been more aggressive in the play-calling on their final drive, and the defense certainly could have fared better on Tampa’s game-winning drive.
The Rams’ high-powered offense led them to the Super Bowl last season, but the unit has been a letdown all season long. Through eight games, the Matthew Stafford-led offense is averaging just 16.4 points per game.
Sunday’s loss drops the defending champions to 3-5 on the year. At this rate, the Rams look like they’ll be the first defending Super Bowl champion to miss the postseason since the 2016 Denver Broncos.