They never thought it would come down to one play, but if it had to, the Los Angeles Rams had one call in mind and it involved Matthew Stafford launching a nuke to save the season. That's precisely what wound up happening at Raymond James Stadium, as the Rams tried desperately to avoid a historic collapse at the hands of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- answering a late-game touchdown by Leonard Fournette to put overtime on the table by throwing that plate against the nearest wall and shattering Brady's hopes for an eighth Super Bowl ring.
Kupp was red-hot in the divisional round, having racked up nearly 140 receiving yards and a touchdown on only eight catches before his number was dialed up one more time, and with only 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers, having already sacked Stafford on first down, called a Cover 0 blitz only two plays later -- with Kupp having also reeled in a 20-yarder in-between those two snaps -- and they'll regret that decision forever.
Stafford found a streaking Kupp behind the entire defense for a 44-yard gain, setting up kicker Matt Gay to boot the game-winner against his former team. And making the offensive play call by the Rams that much more special is the fact it had a name coined for it before it was ever used.
"We call it the 'Love of the Game Route,'" Kupp told media after the game, via the team's official website. "Because you're really trying to just draw coverage, but [Stafford] was able to read my body language and put the ball in the right spot for us."
For his part, Stafford agrees the play isn't designed for Kupp to get the ball.
"You're never really getting the ball," Stafford explained. "You're just clearing out some area, working for some other routes."
So, as it turns out, if defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had called a more coverage-friendly play or if the Buccaneers all blitzed as they were supposed to -- San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium.-- Stafford quickly looks off of Kupp and goes elsewhere, likely underneath, assuming he's not sacked due to pressure from the front four, as he was two plays prior. Instead, it was the perfect call and the perfect read followed by the perfect throw from Stafford and the perfect catch from Kupp, sending them to the NFC Championship game to face the
And the Bucs head into the offseason with a lot more questions than they're prepared to answer at the moment, including why they continually failed to get the memo about Kupp's game-breaking ability.