Turnovers and a ton of passes proved to be a recipe for compelling football as the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers closed out Week 11 with a back-and-forth battle at The New Sombrero on Monday night. The fourth and final interception of the night sealed the deal for the Rams as they upended Tampa Bay, 27-24, to improve to 7-3 on the season.
The loss drops the Bucs to 7-4 as things tighten up even more in the NFC playoff race.
Both defenses were stout in the trenches, forcing Sean McVay and Byron Leftwich to nearly abandon their run games altogether. Tampa Bay rushed for a total of 42 yards, while Los Angeles could only muster 37.
That meant much of the action was through the air, with Jared Goff and Tom Brady combining to throw 99 passes. Goff was more effective, connecting on 39 of his 51 throws for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Brady, despite throwing 48 times, only amassed 216 yards.
Most of Goff’s aerial assault was directed to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, as the duo combined to haul in 23 passes for 275 yards, the first time ever a pair of Rams receivers caught 10 or more passes in the same game.
Antonio Brown led all Bucs receivers in catches (eight) and targets (13), but much of his damage came near the line of scrimmage as he managed just 57 yards, still a team high.
The seesaw battle saw the Bucs tie the game at 24 with just under four minutes remaining, as Chris Godwin scored from 13 yards out. But the Rams connected on a 40-yard field goal on their ensuing possession to re-take the lead, one they would not relinquish.
On the Bucs’ fourth play of their final offensive possession, Brady overthrew Cameron Brate, and the ball fell into the waiting arms of Jordan Fuller, who secured the interception and the victory.
With the win, the Rams take the lead in the NFC West by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Seattle, with both teams sitting at 7-3. Los Angeles also jumps up to the second seed in the NFC playoff picture, ahead of Green Bay, based on their win percentage in conference games.
The Saints remain the top seed with their eight wins. If the playoffs started today, New Orleans would hold the lone bye, while the Rams would host the Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card round.
The Rams and Cardinals will still meet twice this season, while Los Angeles is also scheduled to travel to Seattle in Week 16.
At 7-4, the Bucs are a game and a half behind New Orleans in the NFC South, but the Saints have also beaten Tom Brady and company twice already this season.
Tampa Bay also slips to the sixth seed in the playoff chase and would travel to Lambeau Field for a Wild Card matchup with the Packers if the regular season ended today.
The Rams will go for their third straight win when they host the 49ers this coming Sunday, while it won’t get any easier for the Buccaneers. In arguably the best game of the Week 12 slate, Tampa Bay will host Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.