Rams vs. Buccaneers: Last two Super Bowl champions clash in dire matchup

Tom Brady throws a pass for the Buccaneers
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady makes a pass while pressured by Rams defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson in an NFC divisional playoff game last season at Raymond James Stadium.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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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.

Forty days after Brady said goodbye to the NFL, he announced he was coming back for another season.


The Rams have succeeded against the Buccaneers in Tampa, including a playoff win last season. The teams enter Sunday’s game slumping and needing a win.

Nov. 4, 2022

Scott and the turnover-starved Rams defense will try to force the 45-year-old Brady into another rare mistake on Sunday when the Rams play the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

“Anytime you can get a pick off a great, tenured quarterback it’s special,” Scott said. “If we can do that and we win, that’s even better.”

It won’t be easy.

Brady has passed for nine touchdowns, with only one interception, none in the last seven games.

Yet like the defending Super Bowl-champion Rams (3-4), the Buccaneers (3-5) are struggling.

The Rams’ loss last Sunday to the San Francisco 49ers put them under .500 again. The Buccaneers have lost three games in a row.

So, the matchup between the last two Super Bowl champions might lack luster but not importance.


If the Rams continue losing, they will be in danger of falling out of playoff contention. That happened only once under coach Sean McVay, in 2019, after the Rams lost to Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Coming off their loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams face another stiff test against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Who’s the favorite?

Nov. 4, 2022

Last season, with the addition of quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Rams won Super Bowl LVI.

Stafford’s last-minute, game-winning field-goal drive against the Buccaneers propelled the Rams to the NFC championship game against the 49ers. They won with another fourth-quarter field-goal drive, and then defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl with yet another game-winning drive engineered by Stafford.

Asked if on Sunday he would allow himself a pregame moment to revisit the dramatic playoff victory over the Buccaneers, Stafford said he would not.

“I’ve played that one in my head enough, I know that one,” he said. “I’ll just be ready to go play the game.”

For the first time since an Oct. 9 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Stafford could be handing off the ball to running back Cam Akers.


Akers sat out a victory over the Carolina Panthers and the loss to the 49ers while estranged from the team. The Rams tried but failed to trade Akers, who returned to the team this week.

McVay said Friday that he was glad to have Akers back but he had not determined if Akers would play against the Buccaneers.

Rams’ Cam Akers, out since Oct. 9, is back at practice, but coach Sean McVay won’t say whether the running back will play Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Nov. 4, 2022

The Rams certainly need help for a rushing attack that ranks second to last in the NFL, ahead of only the Buccaneers.

“It hasn’t been doing what we want,” Akers said, adding, “But … it’s a collective effort — me, the running backs, the line… we all got to do our part.”

And the defense must neutralize Brady.

Scott’s interception of a tipped pass against the Panthers was the Rams’ only forced turnover in their last five games.

“We’ve had our opportunities to have them, and we haven’t capitalized on it,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said, adding, “That’s something that’s in our control. And so we make some of those plays, I think the game changes.”


Wagner, an 11th-year pro in his first season with the Rams, is looking forward to again playing against Brady, who is in his 23rd season, his third with the Buccaneers.

Playing against quarterbacks such as Brady and former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos star Peyton Manning is like playing chess, Wagner said.

“The greatness is the consistency, how long he’s done it,” Wagner said of Brady, adding, “That’s the thing that stood out to me when I first played him and that’s the thing that stands out when I watch him now.”

Scott said he would welcome the opportunity to again intercept a Brady pass.

“Hopefully, I can get another one,” Scott said, before jokingly adding, “And if I get another one, maybe he’ll retire and it’s a real retirement.

“We’ll see.”