Leave it to veteran play-by-play man Al Michaels, who has authored some of the most memorable lines in sports broadcasting history, to deliver an apt summation of the fourth quarter of the Rams-Tampa Bay game Sunday.
“This,” Michaels said on NBC’s telecast of the Rams’ 30-27 walk-off win, “is officially lunacy.”
A look at “The Crazy Eight” plays on which Sunday’s fourth quarter turned:
1. The Rams, after Leonard Fournette’s one-yard touchdown run pulled Tampa Bay to within 27-13 late in the third quarter, regain momentum on Von Miller’s strip-sack of Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Miller recovers the fumble at the Tampa Bay 25-yard line with 14:33 left. The Rams move in for the kill.
2. Not so fast. On the very next play, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, in shotgun formation, is surveying Tampa Bay’s coverage when center Brian Allen unexpectedly snaps the ball. The no-look snap sails over Stafford’s right shoulder and, after a mad scramble, is recovered by Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul at the Rams 45-yard line with 14:25 left.
3. Brady, on fourth and 14 from the Rams 36-yard line, fires long down the left side to Mike Evans. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey breaks up the pass inside the five-yard line, but safety Erik Weddle can’t stop his momentum and crashes into Evans for an unnecessary roughness penalty with 12:22 left. The Rams catch a huge break when officials rule — correctly — that the ball touched the ground before Weddle’s hit, making it a dead-ball foul. The Rams take over on downs.
4. The next two Rams possessions end with Matt Gay falling short on a 47-yard field-goal attempt and a punt. Brady connects with Evans on a 55-yard touchdown pass, with Evans beating Ramsey, the three-time All-Pro, in single coverage down the right sideline. Tampa Bay pulls to within 27-20 with 3:20 left.
5. The Buccaneers are out of timeouts. The Rams need one first down to run out the clock. On second and seven, Cam Akers gains three yards up the middle but is stripped of the ball by defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. Linebacker Lavonte David recovers at the Rams 30-yard line with 2:25 left.
6. Brady, on fourth and one from the Rams nine-yard line, hands the ball to Fournette. Rams linebacker Troy Reeder bursts into the backfield and dives at Fournette’s left knee but doesn’t have a proper angle on the burly running back. Fournette shakes the hit and runs around the right side for a touchdown that ties the score 27-27 with 42 seconds remaining.
7. Stafford is sacked for a one-yard loss. The Rams use their last timeout with 35 seconds left. The game appears headed for overtime. Stafford then “out-Bradys” the king of late-game heroics, hitting Cooper Kupp for 20 yards and then, in the face of a Buccaneers blitz, firing long over the middle to Kupp, who gets behind safety Antoine Winfield Jr. for a 44-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 12-yard line.
8. The Rams hustle downfield and line up in time for Stafford to spike the ball with four seconds left. Gay, who was waived by Tampa Bay in September, sends his winning 30-yard field goal inside the left upright as time expires. The Rams advance to the NFC championship game against San Francisco next Sunday at SoFi Stadium.