Matt Gay’s buzzer beater ends his former team’s season
The LA Rams have come a long way since the start of the 2020 NFL season. Perhaps the greatest advances for the team have come at placekicking, and it’s all thanks to field goal kicker Matt Gay.
Sometimes in life, to understand where you are going, you need to stop and ponder where you are coming from. Focusing too long on where you are going can make the journey seem endless and unproductive. Pausing to revisit how far we have truly come gives us the understanding of progress, and measure how far we have to go.
Something akin to two down, two to go.
When the Rams entered the 2020 season, they have already lost Special Teams coordinator John Fassel, assistant special teams coordinator Matt Daniels, and kicker Greg Zuerlein before the organization knew what hit them. At the time, the setback was disappointing, but just how hard is it to find a somewhat competent kicker in the NFL?
Can someone find me a competent kicker?
Well, based on the LA Rams experience, it’s the equivalent of a Rubik’s Cube. The team drafted kicker Sam Sloman, signed former-CFL kicker Liam Hajrullahu, and signed former-XFL kicker Austin MacGinnis. While the team appeared to be in open competition for the starting role, both Hajrullahu and MacGinnis seemed to be far more accurate in two scrimmage games. But it was Sloman that won the starting job for the Rams.
Live and learn, right? Well, live anyways.
Sloman was clearly not the answer in just seven games. Not only did he have a limited range, but he was not very accurate either. The LA Rams signed kicker Kai Forbath, who soon replaced Sam Sloman. In just two games, he was no better. But the Rams were not done and signed K Matt Gay from the Indianapolis Colts practice squad.
Bucs cut Gay, Gay beats his former team 3X
Gay was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 145th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft from the Utah Utes. In his rookie season, he kicked 27 of 35 field goals (77 percent accuracy), and 43 of 48 extra points (89.6 percent accuracy) for the Bucs. So why was he cut? In the season finale, he missed all three of his field-goal attempts, and the team lost to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 28-22. Of course, it didn’t help that he missed a field goal the previous week, in a loss to the Houston Texans by the score of 23-20.
Gay played seven games for the Rams in 2020, debuting against his former team. He was two of three in field goals, and three of three in extra points, in a game that the LA Rams won by a score of 27-24. Once more, the Buccaneers lost by three points, thanks to the kicking of Matt Gay.
He would not miss an extra point, would only miss one more field goal, and was able to boom the kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks, and won the Rams starting kicking job.
In 2021, Gay once more would face his former team. In that one, he was a perfect two of two for field goals and made four of four extra points. His 10 points scored was the margin of victory, beating the Buccaneers by a score of 34-24.
But thrice pays for all. In the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, Gay kicked three of three extra points, and three of four field goals for a total of 12 points, including the game-winner as time elapsed. All in all, the Rams have faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three times with their former kicker Matt Gay, and have won all three times thanks to Gay’s ability to kick the football through the uprights.
It was that signing of a placekicker that has helped propel these LA Rams to the NFC Championship Game. The Rams’ field goal kicking has come a long way.