Having made 32 of 34 field goal attempts during the regular season, including 23-straight at one point, Matt Gay was naturally confused when a 47-yard attempt in Sunday's Divisional Round playoff game against the Buccaneers fell short midway through the fourth quarter.
"A little puzzled," Gay said during a video conference Monday. "Came off the sideline on that one, just kind of sit there for a second, then had some teammates come up and say, 'Hey, we're going to need you.' Our (long)snapper, (Matthew) Orzech, kind of came to me and said, 'Hey, it's going to come down to you.'"
Orzech's words proved prophetic and important.
Following back-to-back deep completions from Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Gay was set up to kick the game-winning 30-yard field goal and delivered, sending the Rams to the NFC Championship game.
Gay said after that miss, his first thought was wanting another another opportunity to "make it right." Sure enough, he got his opportunity thanks to a chaotic fourth quarter that saw the Buccaneers score a pair of touchdowns to tie the game at 27.
"We got guys on our team that can make plays, so you know that you're confident in their ability to get you down there," Gay said. "And just kind of walking down the sideline, it's, 'Hey, give me down there.' It wasn't a long drive, there's two – I mean, Staff to Coop, Staff to Coop! And they get us in position, they did a great job handling the clock and getting down there and clocking it. Unbelievable play by those those guys. I can't say enough about them.'"
Like Orzech, Kupp had complete faith in Gay to meet the moment.
"It's tough. He's got a very difficult job. He's done an incredible job all this year," Kupp said postgame. "I have no doubts that he's going to continue to be clutch for us this year. Everyone on this team has so much faith in Matty. He's a Pro Bowl kicker, he's one of the best in the league, so we've got a ton of faith in him."
From Rams head coach Sean McVay's vantage point, that 47-yard try had the accuracy and just fell "a little bit short." Thus, McVay said he thought Gay knew it was an easy fix for the next opportunity he got.
"I think to be a great kicker, and really to be great in anything that you do, there's got to be a mental toughness, there's got to be a resilience and an ability to be able to compartmentalize where, 'Hey, let's learn from it, but let's not deter our ability to move forward in the right direction,'" McVay said Monday. "And certainly, I think you saw that represented and illustrated in a big way with the way that he came back."