TAMPA, FL. – A trip to the Super Bowl was on the line in the two previous playoff meetings between the Buccaneers and Rams. The Bucs lost both games and failed to reach the end zone in both games. They were outscored by a combined, get this, 20-6. That’s 26 total points in two games.
Barring a monsoon, which is not in the forecast, the teams might combine for more than 26 points in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon. After all, Tom Brady (43) and Matthew Stafford (41) were the NFL’s top two in touchdown passes this season.
Here is a look at the first two playoff matchups between the Rams and Bucs, which were two decades apart.
January 6, 1980: Rams 9, Buccaneers 0 (NFC Championship)
After disposing of the Eagles in their first-ever playoff game the week before, John McKay’s team remained at home for the only conference championship game ever played at Tampa Stadium. In fact, until this season, the 1979-80 playoff year was the only time the Bucs hosted more than one playoff game. Let that sink in.
On a day in which the temperature at kickoff was 54 degrees, both teams had touchdowns nullified by penalties. The Rams penetrated Tampa Bay’s 10-yard line on three occasions only to settle for a Frank Corral field goal each time. Corral’s longest was all of 23 yards and, if you strung the field goals together, they would have totaled 63 yards. Alas, it was more than enough as the Buccaneers compiled a meager 177 yards and seven first downs.
Doug Williams was 2-for-13 for 12 yards and a pick, the Bucs’ only turnover. Mike Rae was pressed into service and, incredibly, was also 2-for-13. Running back Jerry Eckwood’s 42-yard completion to receiver Larry Mucker was easily (by 17 yards) Tampa Bay’s longest play. Mucker, by the way, also had the Bucs’ longest run at 24 yards. His only two touches resulted in 66 yards, or more than one-third of the team’s total.
The Rams lost to the Steelers, 31-16, in Super Bowl XIV.
January 23, 2000: Rams 11, Bucs 6 (NFC Championship)
The Bucs picked off Kurt Warner three times and held him to a season-low rating of 56.2. However, with Tampa Bay leading 6-5, the lone touchdown of the game came with 4:44 remaining in the fourth quarter when Warner connected with Ricky Proehl on a 30-yard score.
The TWA Dome was in a frenzy – by this point, the Rams had been in St. Louis for a few years – and the Rams were on their way to the Super Bowl.
Rookie Shaun King, who took over the offense when Trent Dilfer’s season ended due a broken collarbone sustained in Week 11, threw two interceptions and was sacked five times on an afternoon when the offense managed all of 12 first downs and 203 total yards.
Defensive end Steve White had the only interception of his career when he picked off Warner on the game’s first snap, which set up the Bucs at the Rams’ 20. However, they had to settle for a Martin Gramatica field goal and a 3-0 lead. Gramatica’s fourth-quarter field goal put the Bucs up 6-5 and capped a 66-yard drive – Tampa Bay’s longest of the day – that stalled inside the 10.
The Rams defeated the Titans, 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV. In a memorable finish, St. Louis linebacker Mike Jones tackled Tennessee receiver Kevin Dyson shy of the goal line on the game’s final play.
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