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Rams stunned by Tom Brady and Buccaneers on final drive of heartbreaking loss

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Buccaneers tight end Cade Otton scores on a one-yard catch in front of Rams' Derion Kendrick and Nick Scott.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cade Otton scores on a one-yard touchdown catch in front of Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick and defensive back Nick Scott during the final seconds of the Rams’ 16-13 loss Sunday.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers drove 60 yards on six plays in 35 seconds during the game’s final minute in a 16-13 comeback win over the Rams.

Rams’ offense and defense fail down stretch as Tom Brady lifts Tampa on final drive

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass against the Rams on Sunday.
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

TAMPA, Fla. — This is becoming a farce.

And not just the Rams’ final desperate play Sunday, a series of passes, laterals and clownish moves designed to perhaps generate another miracle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

No, an offense and play-caller once feared around the NFL are beyond stagnant. Touchdowns are rarities, the rushing attack no threat. Even 10 yards for a game-clinching first down is apparently too much to ask.

Coach Sean McVay and the defending Super Bowl champion Rams are clearly in the throes of a Super Bowl hangover.

They also are at a crossroads.

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Rams stunned by Tom Brady and Buccaneers in heartbreaking loss

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady acknowledges the crowd after a 16-13 comeback win over the Rams on Sunday.
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

🏈 Buccaneers 16, Rams 13 — FINAL

Buccaneers tight end Cade Otton caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the closing seconds of the game, delivering a heartbreaking and shocking loss to a Rams team that was four yards away from returning to the .500 mark.

Brady completed the 55th game-winning drive of his storied career, marching the Buccaneers 60 yards in six plays to find the end zone with nine seconds left. A costly pass-interference penalty on cornerback Derion Kendrick in the end zone put the Buccaneers on the Rams’ one-yard line, setting up Otton’s winning catch.

On Tampa Bay’s second-to-last possession, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Mike Evans in the end zone on fourth and goal with less than two minutes to go. On the ensuing possession, the Rams came up four yards short of a first down and punted.

From there, Brady conjured his fourth-quarter magic. He completed a 28-yard pass to Otton, then found wide receiver Scotty Miller on a 14-yard pass. After another short pass to Miller put the Buccaneers into the red zone, Kendrick’s pass-interference penalty set up Otton’s winning reception.

The Rams dominated on defense most of the game, holding Tampa Bay to three field goals before the Buccaneers’ last-minute touchdown. Brady completed 36 of 58 attempts for 280 yards and a touchdown. He also became the first player to record 10,000 career passing yards.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford connected on 13 of 27 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Cooper Kupp finished with 127 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.

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Ryan Succop’s 50-yard field goal cuts into Rams’ lead

🏈 Rams 13, Buccaneers 9 — 8:07 left in fourth quarter

Tom Brady eclipsed 100,000 career yards passing in the regular season and playoffs during a drive that ended with Ryan Succop’s 50-yard field goal.

The field goal capped a 12-play drive, keeping the Buccaneers within striking distance.

Brady completed passes to six different receivers during the 12-play drive.

Brady has completed 25 of 42 passes for 175 yards.

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Another big Cooper Kupp catch sets up Matt Gay field goal

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the third quarter.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

🏈 Rams 13, Buccaneers 6 — Start of fourth quarter

Matt Gay kicked a 35-yard field goal after the Rams failed once again to fully capitalize on an opportunity.

Aaron Donald had sacked Tom Brady on fourth down at the Buccaneers’ 47 yard-line, setting up a possible momentum-turning drive.

Matthew Stafford looked as if he would make the Buccaneers pay when he connected with Cooper Kupp for a 34-yard gain to the 10-yard line.

But Darrell Henderson was stopped for no gain, and the Buccaneers sacked Stafford for a nine-yard loss. Coach Sean McVay played it safe by calling for a running play on third down, and Gay kicked the field goal.

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Rams extend lead on Matt Gay field goal

Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. carries the ball during the second half.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

🏈 Rams 10, Buccaneers 6 — 9:14 left in the third quarter

The Rams forced the Buccaneers to go three and out, and then drove 67 yards in 11 plays for a 26-yard field goal by Matt Gay.

Running back Malcolm Brown kept alive the drive with a nine-yard reception on the third down. And running back Darrell Henderson broke off runs of 10 and 23 yards on consecutive plays to move the ball to the 12-yard line.

But after Matthew Stafford completed a short pass to Cooper Kupp, Stafford misfired on the next two plays, bringing on Gay.

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Rams clinging to one-point lead over Bucs at halftime

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) during the first half.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

🏈 Rams 7, Buccaneers 6 — Halftime

Ryan Succop kicked a 38-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the second quarter, cutting the Rams’ lead to one point.

Tom Brady drove the Buccaneers 70 yards in nine plays for the field goal after the Rams failed to capitalize on Bobby Wagner’s block of a 52-yard field-goal attempt.

Brady has completed 15 of 24 passes for 124 yards.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed seven of 17 passes for 98 yards, 69 on a catch-and-run that Cooper Kupp turned into a touchdown.

Kupp has four receptions for 85 yards.

Rams running back Cam Akers has rushed for five yards in three carries.

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Cooper Kupp’s 69-yard touchdown catch pushes Rams into the lead

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is congratulated by teammates after scoring on a 69-yard touchdown reception.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) is congratulated by teammates after scoring on a 69-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

🏈 Rams 7, Buccaneers 3 — 12:57 left in the second quarter

Cooper Kupp likes playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Rams receiver has thrived in games against the Buccaneers, and he made another big play when he caught a mid-range pass from Matthew Stafford and turned it into a 69-yard touchdown.

Stafford recovered from a high snap and found the wide-open Kupp, who appears fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the final minutes of last Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Stafford has completed six of 11 passes for 94 yards. Kupp has four catches for 85 yards.

The eight-play 91-yard drive featured the return of running back Cam Akers. The third-year pro, who sat out the last two games, carried the ball three times for five yards.

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Buccaneers settle for field goal on game’s opening drive

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette carries the ball against the Rams in the first quarter.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

🏈 Buccaneers 3, Rams 0 — 7:16 left in first quarter

The Buccaneers drove to the three yard line, but the Rams stopped running back Leonard Fournette on third down, forcing the Buccaneers to settle for Ryan Succop’s 20-yard field goal.

Tom Brady completed passes of 19 yards to Mike Evans and 13 yards to Julio Jones during the 12-play, 54-yard drive that consumed 6 minutes 35 seconds.

Brady has completed five of six passes for 51 yards.

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NFL Q&A: What are Rams to do with Cam Akers?

Rams running back Cam Akers picks up yards against the Patriots during a game in 2020.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Rams fans were expecting to react to a trade of running back Cam Akers this week but, despite a “For Sale” sign on the running back, he remains on the team. The Chargers had their week off but fans were hoping they’d make a deal to improve their injury-depleted roster. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller field questions and answer fan concerns heading into Week 9:

How do you think the Rams will try to fit Cam Akers with their game plans the rest of the season?

Alexander Helmke, Valencia

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Last two Super Bowl champions clash in dire matchup

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 27.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

TAMPA, Fla. — Nick Scott briefly made history.

During last season’s NFC divisional-round playoff victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams safety intercepted a pass by seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

A week later, Brady announced his retirement — making Scott the last player to intercept a pass by a quarterback many consider the greatest in NFL history.

Scott’s distinction was short-lived.

“It didn’t last long,” he said.

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Cam Akers practices for the first time in weeks as Rams mull running back situation

Rams running back Cam Akers carries the ball against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 18.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A boisterous scene in the Rams locker room unfolded Thursday after running back Cam Akers practiced for the first time in more than two weeks.

As reporters gathered to interview Akers at his locker, teammates playfully yelled their support of the third-year pro.

“I’m in-house,” said Akers. “I’m back with the team, so I’m happy.”

Akers, a second-round draft pick in 2020, had been estranged since the Rams’ Oct. 9 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys.

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Inactives for Rams vs. Buccaneers on Sunday

Here are the players who will not be suiting up for the Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday:

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Rams vs. Buccaneers matchups, how to watch and prediction

Breaking down how the Rams (3-4) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) match up heading into their game at 1:25 p.m. PST on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The game will be shown on CBS (Ch. 2) and streamed on Paramount+ and NFL+.

When Rams have the ball

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp walks off the field with medical staff after getting injured Oct. 30, 2022.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp walks off the field after suffering an ankle injury during Sunday’s loss to the 49ers. Kupp appears to have recovered and will play at Tampa Bay.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

For the first time since an Oct. 9 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, running back Cam Akers might play for the Rams. The third-year pro returned to the team after an exile that lasted more than two weeks. But as of Friday, coach Sean McVay would not say whether Akers would play for an offense that ranks second to last in the NFL in rushing.

Last season, quarterback Matthew Stafford engineered a last-minute, winning drive against the Buccaneers in an NFC divisional-round playoff game in Tampa, Fla. Stafford has passed for seven touchdowns, with eight interceptions, this season.

Star wide receiver Cooper Kupp suffered an ankle injury late in Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers after McVay’s ill-advised called for a pass play with the Rams trailing by 17 points. Kupp, however, appears to have recovered and will play against the Buccaneers.

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Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald celebrates after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald celebrates after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the Rams’ loss on Oct. 30. The Rams look to bounce back this week against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams failed to take advantage of their bye week. Both Los Angeles teams will be a long way from home this week, as the Rams face the Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla., and the Chargers face the Falcons in Atlanta. LA’s AFC team is favored, while LA’s NFC team is not, but both games have tight spreads hovering around a field goal, so it will come down to execution and attention to detail.

Just what those two fan bases wanted to hear. Let’s look at the Week 10 games and see what the matchups look like.

Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3, 42.5)

Remember the fanfare that this matchup got in Week 4 last season? Instead of being a battle of Super Bowl contenders, it is now a battle of really disappointing teams. The Rams have fallen from grace and hit every tree branch on the way down, but they aren’t alone. The Buccaneers look like a shell of what they were in the two previous seasons with Tom Brady at the helm.

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