Stafford grabs first-ever playoff win as Rams set up showdown with Bucs | NFL


Matthew Stafford passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in his first-ever playoff victory, and the Los Angeles Rams roared out of the wildcard round with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Odell Beckham Jr and Cooper Kupp made touchdown catches for the NFC West champion Rams, who will visit the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday for a spot in the NFC championship game. Los Angeles advanced in the postseason for the third time in the last four years under coach Sean McVay.

David Long also scored on a three-yard interception return while the Rams’ defense harassed Kyler Murray into a calamitous playoff debut. Los Angeles jumped to a 28-0 lead and cruised in the first playoff game at SoFi Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl next month.

After an inconsistent finish to the regular season, the Rams’ constellation of big stars came together brilliantly on the postseason stage. Stafford was outstanding in his first playoff game with the Rams, going 13 of 17 without an interception and coolly directing LA’s offense while seizing his first playoff win in 13 NFL seasons the first 12 spent in Detroit.

Beckham had four catches for 54 yards, including his first career playoff touchdown catch for the Rams’ first points. He also threw a 40-yard pass during his own first postseason victory. Linebacker Von Miller added six tackles and a key early sack in his first postseason appearance since winning the MVP award in Super Bowl 50.

It was a rough evening for the Cardinals on Monday
It was a rough evening for the Cardinals on Monday. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

Murray went 19 of 34 for 137 yards and two interceptions for the Cardinals, who followed their 10-2 start with a 1-5 slide. Arizona lost on the road for only the second time in 10 games this season under coach Kliff Kingsbury, but fell to the Rams for the 10th time in the NFC West rivals’ last 11 meetings.

Eric Weddle got significant playing time for the Rams in the 37-year-old veteran’s first NFL game since the 2019 season finale. The two-time All-Pro safety ended his retirement last week to help out after Los Angeles lost starters Taylor Rapp to a concussion and Jordan Fuller to a season-ending ankle injury.

Cardinals safety Budda Baker left the field on a stretcher in the third quarter after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Akers. Players knelt around Baker in concern before he was taken off the field. He was taken to a hospital for further evaluation but had movement in his extremities.

NFL divisional round schedule

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans. Saturday, 4.30pm ET/9.30pm GMT

San Francisco 49ers v Green Bay Packers. Saturday, 8.15pm ET/Sunday, 1.15am GMT

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday, 3pm ET/8pm GMT

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs. Sunday, 6.30pm ET/11.30pm GMT

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