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Jared Goff finally beats Tom Brady as defense secures Rams’ win over Bucs

Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass under pressure from Tampa Bay's Lavonte David and William Gholston.
Jared Goff passes under pressure from Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David (54) and William Gholston in the Rams’ 27-24 win Monday night. Goff threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

He takes pains to say he does not play against Tom Brady. His battle is against the opposing team’s defense.

But Rams quarterback Jared Goff achieved a milestone of sorts Monday night.

For the first time in three career tries, Goff came out ahead of Brady, the future Hall of Fame quarterback, in the Rams’ 27-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Goff engineered a game-winning drive with less than four minutes left, setting up new kicker Matt Gay’s 40-yard field goal.

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Rookie safety Jordan Fuller then clinched the victory with his second interception of the game.

Andrew Whitworth dubs it “the night of rookies” as Jordan Fuller, Van Jefferson and Cam Akers play pivotal roles in Rams’ 27-24 win over the Bucs.

“Making that drive at the end of the game I think shows who we are,” Goff said, “and then getting that interception, that sequence right there shows ... what we’re made of.”

Goff passed for 376 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions as the Rams improved to 7-3, moved back into first place in the division and strengthened their position for a playoff spot.

“I just love the way our guys stayed together,” coach Sean McVay said.

The Rams next play an NFC West game at home against the San Francisco 49ers (4-6) and then travel to play the Arizona Cardinals (6-4).

Nonconference home games against the New England Patriots (4-6) and the winless New York Jets (0-10) precede a road game against the Seattle Seahawks (7-3) and the home finale against Arizona.

“Everything’s out there for us to take,” said Goff, who completed 39 of 51 passes, including touchdown throws to wide receivers Robert Woods and Van Jefferson and running back Cam Akers.

The touchdowns were the first of Jefferson’s and Akers’ burgeoning careers.

Receiver Cooper Kupp caught 11 passes for 145 yards and Woods had 12 receptions for 130 yards as the Rams’ passing attack recaptured some of its high-flying ways.

Fuller’s first interception set up a touchdown in the third quarter. His second with less than two minutes left essentially clinched the win and dropped Brady and the Buccaneers to 7-4.

Rams safety Jordan Fuller runs with the ball after intercepting a pass by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Rams safety Jordan Fuller runs with the ball after intercepting a pass by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the second half Monday.
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

“I’m definitely keeping those,” Fuller said of the balls he intercepted. “Those are going to be in the man cave one day. ... It means a lot being able to come out against one of the best quarterbacks of all time.”

Gay, the Rams’ newest player, also had a big night.

Gay played for the Buccaneers last season, but he was released and signed with the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad. The Rams signed him last Monday, and he practiced with the team for the first time Saturday.

On Monday, he came back and beat his old team.

“You’re going back to the place you were last year, and the place that, you know, you feel like you should have been,” said Gay, who also kicked a 38-yard field goal and missed a 44-yard attempt. “And then to play in prime time on ‘Monday Night Football’ and there’s a lot of emotion for me. ... It’s definitely a little bit more for me to come back and play in this stadium and, obviously, hit that kick.”

Veteran Rams players such as defensive linemen Michael Brockers (0-3) and Aaron Donald (0-2) were winless against Brady when he played for the New England Patriots, including a 13-3 loss in Super Bowl LIII.

On Monday, they helped keep the pressure on the six-time Super Bowl winner. Brady completed 26 of 48 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

The Rams led 17-14 at halftime on Goff’s touchdown passes to Woods and Jefferson and Gay’s first field goal.

Fuller’s first interception in the third quarter set up Goff’s short touchdown pass to Akers for a 24-17 advantage.

But Brady got another shot when Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead intercepted a pass by Goff with just more than seven minutes left. Brady’s 13-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Godwin tied the score with less than four minutes remaining.

That brought out Goff and the Rams’ offense.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 27-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Monday.

“You go out to the huddle and then the whole offense is like, ‘Yeah, don’t let coaches and the hype build it up — this is a normal situation for us. This is a Thursday practice,’” Woods said, adding, “For us, it was staying monotone and even-keeled and treat it, like I said, like Thursday practice.”

Goff completed passes to Woods and Kupp to set up Gay’s field goal with 2:36 left.

“I’ve always believed in myself in any situation, but when you actually do it and do it in a tough environment, of course it makes you feel good and you’re happy about it,” Goff said. “But I expect to do that. We all expect to do that.”

Said McVay: “It says what we expected — that he’s a really good quarterback that just stays steady and neutral throughout the course of the game.”

Brady got the ball back one last time, but Fuller’s interception enabled the Rams to run out the clock.

“We’re in a good place right now,” Rams safety John Johnson said. “We’re 7-3. We control our destiny.”

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