INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A year to the day the Rams reportedly agreed to acquire quarterback Matthew Stafford in a trade with the Lions, Stafford helped deliver on on one of the reasons why he was brought in.
Stafford completed his second game-winning drive of the postseason in the Rams' 20-17 NFC Championship win over the 49ers, sending Los Angeles to Super Bowl LVI.
"I'm just so proud of this group," Stafford said, when asked what he was feeling in the moment. "We've had high expectations all year. Done nothing but do everything in our power to try and meet those. It's a driven group we have in there. This game wasn't perfect. It wasn't easy in some spots, but we found a way to win the game. That's what it's all about. I'm just happy and proud to be a part of this group. And we got some more work left to do."
With the game tied at 17 with 6:26 left, Stafford went to work, firing off four consecutive completions to move the Rams into 49ers territory.
The fourth was most impactful, a throw over the middle to wide receiver Cooper Kupp that led to a 25-yard catch-and-run by Kupp that positioned the Rams at the 49ers 12-yard line. Stafford brushed off a sack for a seven-yard loss on the next play with an 8-yard completion to Kupp to regain that lost yardage and set up kicker Matt Gay go-ahead, 30-yard field goal.
"It's everything you would hope and wish for," wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said of Stafford in the huddle in the fourth quarter. "He had that look in his eyes all game. He motivated us, he pushed us one play at a time, and he drove us down. He's just been doing that all postseason – all season really since I've been here. He's just had that look on him."
Overall, Stafford completed 31 of 45 pass attempts for 337 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the Rams' victory, bringing his postseason totals to 72 of 100 for 905 yards with a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
"We went out and got him because we thought it was a chance to be able to get a great player of his magnitude," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "Those things don't come around often. What he's done, he's elevated everybody around him. He's made me a better coach. He's made his teammates better. He's such a great person. I think you guys know from getting a chance to interact with him. If you don't root for this guy, something's wrong with you. He's a great competitor. We've seen that, really, throughout the season. But I think it's really been on display these last couple weeks. We talk about competitive greatness all the time. Being your best when your best was required. He embodied competitive greatness today. Love (QB) Matthew Stafford."