The Sports Report: The Rams are GOAT busters

The Sports Report: The Rams are GOAT busters

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Gary Klein on the Rams: Matthew Stafford had 42 seconds to prove it.

Forty-two seconds to show why the Rams traded for him and made him the centerpiece of a team with a mandate to play in the Super Bowl. Forty-two seconds to knock off Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Stafford said his heart was racing Sunday when he trotted onto the field with the score tied in the NFC divisional-round playoff at Raymond James Stadium, but the 13th-year pro demonstrated nothing but calm a few plays later while staring down an all-out blitz.

Stafford’s 44-yard pass to Cooper Kupp set up Matt Gay’s game-winning field goal as time expired for a 30-27 victory before a crowd of 65,597 that sent the Rams into the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“I live for those kind of moments,” Stafford said. “I would have loved to have been taking a knee when you’re up by three scores, but it’s a whole lot more fun when you got to make a play like that to win the game and just steal somebody’s soul.”

Despite losing four fumbles and blowing a 27-3 lead, the Rams took a giant step toward playing in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Stafford passed for two touchdowns and sneaked for another, Kupp amassed 183 yards receiving, the defense neutralized Brady for most of the game and Gay and special teams came through again as the Rams advanced to play the 49ers next Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Coach Sean McVay was thrilled with the outcome but appeared to still be processing a wild fourth quarter when he met with reporters.

“It was something else,” he said.

————

Plaschke: It’s L.A. vs. San Francisco again, only this time a Super Bowl trip is at stake

When it mattered most, Cooper Kupp again carried the Rams

‘This game is officially lunacy’: The eight crazy plays that capped the Rams’ win

Takeaways from Rams’ playoff win over Buccaneers: Matt Gay gives old team boot again

Rams’ 30-27 NFC divisional playoff victory over Buccaneers by the numbers

Photos: Rams defeat Buccaneers in thrilling playoff triumph

Chiefs rally past Bills in overtime 42-36 to advance to AFC championship game

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NFL PLAYOFFS RESULTS, SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Divisional round

Saturday
Cincinnati 19, at Tennessee 16
San Francisco 13, at Green Bay 10

Sunday
Rams 30, at Tampa Bay 27
at Kansas City 42, Buffalo 36

Conference championships

Sunday, Jan. 30

Cincinnati at Kansas City, Noon, CBS, Chiefs favored by 7
San Francisco at Rams, 3:30 p.m., Fox, Rams by 3 1/2

Note: Super Bowl is Sunday, Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m. on NBC.

LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: A furious Lakers comeback came up just short, the defense giving up two huge threes to ensure the Heat held on to win 113-107 after leading by 26.

After looking woefully disorganized and ineffective for most of their 48 minutes, the Lakers pushed to within two possessions in the final minutes of the fourth quarter before Duncan Robinson and P.J. Tucker hit three-pointers, giving the Heat just enough cushion against a Lakers team that completely turned the game around.

An offensive rebound by LeBron James cut the deficit to four with a minute left, and the Lakers got a clutch stop, but an offensive foul away from the ball on Avery Bradley — the Lakers’ 17th turnover of the game — gave Miami time to run the clock down inside the final seven seconds (before a Tucker turnover gave them the ball back).

But one more turnover — a faulty inbounds pass from Talen Horton-Tucker — meant they’d never get closer.

LeBron James scored 33 — his 17th straight game with at least 25 — and Russell Westbrook had 24, nine rebounds and nine assists in the loss.

CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: The Clippers’ scouting report on RJ Barrett was abundantly clear. Do not let the left-handed guard operate with his preferred hand.

Instead, coach Tyronn Lue watched as Barrett, time and again, went left Sunday inside Madison Square Garden. And when he did, it made this game go sideways for the Clippers.

Barrett scored 28 points, to go with 14 rebounds and six assists, and his last four baskets all stemmed from unimpeded left-handed drives. It was capped by his drive around a screen until he got to the rim with a little more than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Barrett lofted a left-handed floater while also hitting his defender, Reggie Jackson, hard enough for Jackson to momentarily crumple. Jackson was called for a foul, and Barrett made the free throw to complete a three-point play. The Knicks’ lead was 13.

The play didn’t extinguish the Clippers’ attempt to engineer a second consecutive escape out of a straitjacket of their own making. But unlike their 24-point comeback Friday in Philadelphia, the Clippers could not come all the way back. Instead they came back to earth, handed a 110-102 loss behind miscues at the free-throw line and on the glass, the Knicks’ 15 offensive rebounds leading to 21 second-chance points, marks that were significantly better than the Clippers’ six and 10, respectively.

KINGS

Carl Grundstrom scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period and Cal Petersen made 23 saves to lift the Kings to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Alex Iafallo and Viktor Arvidsson also scored for the Kings, who ended a three-game losing streak to start a six-game trip.

Jesper Bratt scored twice for the Devils and Damon Severson had two assists. Jon Gillies, coming off his first win since 2018 the previous night, had 34 saves.

UCLA-USC BASKETBALL

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the UCLA-USC game: USC played in front of fans at Galen Center for the first time since Dec. 18, but UCLA was the team soaking in the atmosphere the most by the end of Sunday’s game.

After notching a 68-58 win over USC on Sunday, UCLA players gathered at the corner of the court in front of a small section of blue and gold-clad fans to punctuate a regular-season rivalry sweep with a loud eight clap.

Charisma Osborne, who scored a season-high 27 points with six rebounds and three assists, took photos with fans behind the UCLA bench after finishing an on-court television interview. Fans chanted UCLA coach Cori Close’s name in an enemy arena as she walked off the court after UCLA’s fifth consecutive win over its crosstown rivals.

“UCLA runs L.A.,” freshman forward Izzy Anstey said.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Ayoka Lee poured in 61 points to set the NCAA women’s single-game scoring record for Division I and Kansas State romped to a 94-65 victory over No. 14 Oklahoma on Sunday.

Lee buried 23 of 30 shots from the floor — all two-pointers — for the Wildcats (15-4, 5-2 Big 12 Conference).

Lee broke the record on a layup with 2:53 remaining in the game. Cindy Brown of Long Beach State scored 60 against San Jose State on Feb. 16, 1987 and Rachel Banham had 60 for Minnesota on Feb. 7, 2016 against Northwestern.

GOLF

Bill Dwyre on golf: Bob Goalby was just a few months shy of his 91st birthday on a warm winter day in the Palm Springs suburb of La Quinta, when he ambled into a restaurant for lunch and an interview with a magazine writer.

He used a walking stick that used the head of a golf driver as an anchor. Because he had an infection in one leg, one shoe was size 12 and the other size 14. He smiled, said he was happy to be there, “happy to be anywhere,” and perused the menu.

The interview was not going to be about his part in what remains a historic moment in the game of golf, the 1968 Masters he won when another player signed an incorrect scorecard. This time, he was being asked to talk about the first Palm Springs pro tour event, the $70,000 Palm Springs Classic in 1960, where he finished third as Arnold Palmer won the first of his record five wins in the desert.

Goalby was fine with the topic but made it clear that he understood, and was fine with, his unerasable spot in golf lore.

“I sure know what the first paragraph of my obituary will be,” he said.

So, there it was last week, when Goalby died at 92 at home in Belleville, Ill. There was no escaping it. Goalby had won almost $700,000 in a pro career that had spanned three decades and at a time when $700,000 was still a lot; had won 11 times and finished second in both the U.S. Open and PGA; had been influential in starting what is now the Champions Tour; is in three different Halls of Fame, and was the golfing patriarch of a family that includes prominent players Jay Haas and his son, Bill.

SNOWBOARDING

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on snowboarding: Benjamin Wisner wanted to cover the slopestyle course in Mammoth Mountain’s famed main park with what looked like the world’s largest slip-and-slide. Only one question stood in his way.

“Is it going to be cool?” the Mammoth Mountain chief financial officer asked.

A single-word answer in the affirmative was all it took to secure more than $100,000 for the revolutionary air bag.

“That’s Mammoth, you know,” Wisner said. “We do what no one else is doing.”

In a sport obsessed with pushing limits, the resort’s forward-thinking culture and idyllic environment have produced some of Team USA‘s best snowboarders and free skiers through its celebrated Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard Team. The club directed by Wisner has four alumni on the Olympic snowboarding team in Beijing with reigning gold medalist Chloe Kim, halfpipe teammates Maddie Mastro and Tessa Maud and slopestyle snowboarder Dusty Henricksen.

“I owe my whole career to the Mammoth team,” said Maud, who will make her Olympic debut. “I learned everything I know from them.”

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1939 — Eddie Collins, Wee Willie Keeler and George Sisler are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1956 — Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks captures the first of his NBA record four All-Star MVP awards. Pettit leads the West team with 20 points and 24 rebounds in a 108-94 win over the East.

1981 — Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders scores his 50th goal in the 50th game of the season in a 7-3 victory over the Quebec Nordiques.

1982 — Ray Wersching kicks a Super Bowl record-tying four field goals to help the San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21.

1986 — Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders scores his 1,000th point with an assist in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1990 — Winston-Salem State basketball coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines wins his 800th game, 79-70 over Livingstone.

1998 — The Denver Nuggets end their record-tying, single-season losing streak at 23 games, beating the Clippers 99-81.

1999 — David Duval shoots a 59 to match what is then the best round in PGA Tour history. Duval surges from seven strokes off the pace for a one-stroke victory over Steve Pate in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

2010 — Kelly Kulick becomes the first woman to win a PBA Tour title, beating Chris Barnes in the final of the 45th Tournament of Champions. Kulick outscores Barnes 265-195 to take home the $40,000 first prize and a two-year PBA Tour exemption.

2010 — Peyton Manning throws three touchdown passes and the Indianapolis Colts rally from an 11-point, first-half deficit to beat the New York Jets 30-17 in the AFC championship game.

2010 — The New Orleans Saints make it to their first Super Bowl after battering Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in overtime on Garrett Hartley’s 40-yard field goal.

2012 — Playing his 1,000th match, four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer advances to his ninth straight semifinal at Melbourne Park with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Juan Martin del Potro. Federer is the seventh man to reach the 1,000 match milestone.

2014 — Carmelo Anthony scores a career-high and franchise-record 62 points, most at the current Madison Square Garden, and the New York Knicks beat the Charlotte Bobcats 125-96.

2015 — Ashley Wagner wins her third U.S. figure skating title, easily beating defending champ Gracie Gold.

2016 — Denver cornerback Bradley Roby picks off Tom Brady’s pass on a 2-point try with 12 seconds left to preserve a 20-18 victory for the Broncos over the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.

2016 — Cam Newton throws two touchdowns and runs for two others, and Carolina’s big-play defense stifles Arizona’s top-ranked offense in a 49-15 romp for the NFC championship.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Highlights of the Rams-Buccaneers game. Watch and listen here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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