The Los Angeles Rams hit a 57-yard field goal in overtime to win the NFC championship and secure a spot in Super Bowl LIII, to be played Feb. 3 in Atlanta.
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein was the late game hero. Besides the winning kick, he made a 48-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 23-23 and send it to overtime. The final kick made 33-year-old Rams coach Sean McVay the youngest coach to ever reach the Super Bowl.
The Saints won the toss for overtime, but an interception thrown by veteran Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was hit by Rams linebacker Dante Fowler as he released the ball, set up the Rams with good field position. That led to the winning Zuerlein field goal, which set a Rams post-season record.
The Rams battled throughout the game despite minimal contributions from star running back Todd Gurley, who sat out a good portion of the second half. The Rams denied it was a physical problem that limited his play, but Gurley, who scored 21 touchdowns to lead the NFL in the regular season, would have been too valuable to keep on the sidelines without a major reason. Gurley did score in the second quarter, but was essentially a non-factor in the game.
The Rams particularly missed Gurley late in the game, as they fell a yard short in the 4th quarter of scoring the go-ahead touchdown, as running back C.J. Anderson was stopped.
The Saints scored on their first three drives, but the Rams defense toughened, giving quarterback Jared Goff time to get back into a rhythm. The Rams managed to get back into the game just before halftime, as Goff connected on a 36-yard pass to Cooks to set up a Gurley TD run.
The Saints had reason to be upset with the result of the game. With minutes left in the fourth quarter, they had a key 43-yard completion to wideout Ted Ginn Jr., which put them into position for at least the winning field goal.
But the drive was marred by a terrible miss by the referees on an obvious pass interference call against the Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on a third-down pass, giving the Rams an extra life. Instead of the Saints being able to run the clock down to four seconds in regulation, the Rams were able to get the ball back with a timeout in hand, and they managed to tie the score in regulation, eventually winning the game.
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