Matthew Stafford revelled in "stealing somebody's soul" after he helped the Los Angeles Rams end the Tamp Bay Buccaneers' playoff hopes.

The Rams prevailed 30-27 over last season's Super Bowl champions on Sunday to reach the NFC Championship game, which will be a matchup between two underdogs after the San Francisco 49ers' win over the Green Bay Packers.

Yet it could very well have gone badly wrong for Los Angeles, who had led 27-3 until a Tom Brady-inspired comeback from the Bucs in the final quarter.

Brady connected with Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown pass, with the possibility of a turnaround that would rank as the joint-fourth largest in postseason history coming into view.

Evans' score made the game 27-20 and another Rams mistake allowed the Bucs to level the scores through Leonard Fournette.

Yet Stafford had other ideas, with the 33-year-old – who joined from the Detroit Lions ahead of this season – combining with wide receiver Cooper Kupp to set up a Matt Gray field goal.

"In my mind, I live for those kinds of moments," said Stafford, who has now made 43 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That is the most of any player since the QB first featured in the NFL in 2009.

"I would have loved to have been taking a knee up three scores, but it's a whole lot more fun when you've got to make a play like that to win the game and just steal somebody's soul.

"That's what it feels like sometimes where they're sitting there going, 'Man, we just had this great comeback.' And you get to reach in there and take it from them. That's a whole lot of fun."

Stafford threw for 366 yards against Tampa Bay, a high mark for the season, besting his previous high of 365 set against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5 and bringing up the third-highest yardage in a single postseason game in Rams history.

He also threw for two touchdowns, rushed another and registered a pass completion rate of 73.7 per cent, finding his target with 28 of 38 attempts.

One of those touchdown passes was a 70-yard combination with Kupp, who led the way in the regular season for receiving yards (1,947), receiving touchdowns (16) and receptions (145).

However, Kupp was not happy with how the Rams' offense performed in the midst of Tampa Bay’s fightback.

"As an offense, we first and foremost did a terrible job of executing for this team in the second half," Kupp said.

"We can't do the things that we did. Put our defense, our team in a really bad spot."

Yet head coach Sean McVay was happy to reflect on a thrilling win, saying: "That's why you play four quarters and try to finish that game out.

"That was something else. That was something else.

"Those guys did a great job. I thought Matthew Stafford was unbelievable throughout the whole day. Just his poise, his command, his decision-making."

Tom Brady declined to discuss his playing future amid retirement talk after almost pulling off a miracle comeback as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crashed out of the NFL playoffs.

The Bucs trailed 27-3 but fought back to level the game in the final quarter before eventually losing 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's Divisional playoff.

Brady threw a spectacular pass for Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 27-20 in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay's exit comes amid growing speculation about the 44-year-old quarterback's future, with one year remaining on his Bucs contract.

"I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. Just take it day-by-day and see where we’re at,” Brady told reporters after the game.

Brady added: "The truth of it is I'm only thinking about this game. I'm not thinking about anything past five minutes from now."

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians offered no insight into the situation either, stating "that's up to Tom" when pressed on the issue.

Brady completed 30 of 54 attempts for 329 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's defeat. The seven-time Super Bowl champion had a 67.5 percent completion rate for a career-high 5,316 yards with 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

The Bucs had entered the playoffs as the NFC's second seed but fell short after going all the way last season as fifth seeds.

"Always tough losing at the end of the year," Brady said.

"Obviously we showed a lot of fight but at the end of the day when you lose a game, you lose a game."

Tom Brady fell agonisingly short of another remarkable playoff recovery as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 30-27 at the last to the Los Angeles Rams in what could yet be the great quarterback's final game.

Discussion around 44-year-old Brady's future increased as this Divisional Round game approached at Raymond James Stadium.

If this was the end for the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who has not committed to playing next year, it befitted the rest of his outstanding career.

Brady will be a spectator next week when the Rams face NFC West rivals the San Francisco 49ers – helmed by his former backup Jimmy Garoppolo – in the NFC Championship Game, but he could hardly have done more to prolong the Buccaneers' title defence.

The Rams led 27-3 halfway through the third quarter, but errors crept into their play and Brady sniffed an opportunity.

Attempting a repeat of his Super Bowl LI fightback from 28-3 down, Brady led the Bucs to 24 unanswered points to tie the game with just seconds remaining.

The veteran had endured a frustrating first half that included his first career penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct as he fumed at officials when a hit from Von Miller left him with a bloodied lip.

That incident had long been forgotten by the time Brady connected with Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown pass, with the possibility of a turnaround that would rank as the joint-fourth largest in postseason history coming into view.

Evans' score made the game 27-20 and another Rams mistake allowed the Bucs to level the scores.

A sloppy second half seemed to have peaked when a Miller strip sack of Brady was immediately followed by LA's snap missing Matthew Stafford, who was looking the other way. Instead, the Rams outdid themselves as Cam Akers' second fumble gave Brady the ball back late on.

Brady handed off to Leonard Fournette and overtime loomed, yet Stafford and triple crown wide receiver Cooper Kupp – having earlier combined for a 70-yard score on third and 20 – had the final say.

A 44-yard completion gave Matt Gay a winning field goal with time up. After a third road win and a third winning field goal in this Divisional Round, now the Rams must beat a 49ers team they have twice lost to this year.

Tom Brady has paid tribute to the "tremendous" Los Angeles Rams defense that he is tasked with getting the better of in the NFL playoffs.

In one of the standout games of the Divisional Round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host NFC West winners the Rams on Sunday.

The defending Super Bowl champions were beaten by the Rams on the road in Week 3 of the regular season but have home advantage this time around after claiming the number two seed in the NFC.

Tampa Bay eased to a 31-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round, while the Rams also encountered few problems in beating the Arizona Cardinals 34-11.

A star Rams defense, which includes the likes of cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, held Arizona to just 183 yards.

It was the second-fewest total yards allowed in a playoff game in franchise history, behind only their 1989 Championship Game win over Tampa Bay.

Brady does not need any reminders about how difficult it is to play the Rams, who have won seven of their last eight meetings against the Bucs.

"It's a very, very challenging team," Brady told reporters ahead of the game. "Really good offense, tremendous defense, really well-coached, great specialists, so it can be very, very difficult game for us.

"It's a very talented football team, obviously one of the great teams in the NFL.

"This team does a lot of good things well. Obviously they rush the passer well, they cover you really well in the secondary, get a lot of turnovers - they sack the quarterback, strip sacks. 

"They have a lot of dynamic players. Obviously, Jalen Ramsey is one of the great corners in the league. So between the guys that they have in the secondary as well as the front, you know that you have no place that you can take off. 

"These guys are they can turn you over. They can make big plays like they did the other night when David Long got the pick six [against Arizona]."

Brady and the Bucs will take lessons from the 34-24 regular season defeat, but the veteran quarterback does not believe it can be factored in too much due to both teams changing since then.

He added: "All these games are a little bit independent from one another. 

"Any time you know your opponent, that always gives you a little bit of understanding of kind of what they do well and things you wish you would have done. 

"But it doesn't really matter what happened in October when we played them last. It's really about this game and what we learned from last game.  

"We had a very different team and I think it was a little bit of a different team they had too. It is going to require its own individual performance."

Last season the Bucs put a strong run together to finish the regular season that continued into postseason glory.

Brady, who is now three wins away from winning an eighth Super Bowl, was asked how he always seems to find another gear once the NFL season gets to December and beyond.

"For all of us, it's repeating good process – that is the important part about getting this time of year," added the 44-year-old.

"You don't do much different, you just do more of which got you here. The things that work we do more of and you try to eliminate all the other distractions. 

"I won't do anything extra this week. I just want to do football. That's all I want to do to prepare and get ready. That is how we should all approach it. 

"This isn't the time for trips to the movie theatres, it is time to lock in on football because this is all we have - three days left [of the season] and we have got to earn more. 

"So you just look at it like that, everything you can kind of put off till the end of the year. We just certainly hope the end of the year is not on Sunday night."

The win over the Eagles was Brady's 18th career playoff win by double digits. 

He has more playoff wins by double digits (18) and by single digits (17) than any other QB has total playoff wins (second is Joe Montana with 16 wins).

Matthew Stafford is convinced the Los Angeles Rams will have to put up big points to stand any chance of knocking Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs.

Sunday's Divisional Round game at Raymond James Stadium will be the third NFL postseason meeting between the Rams and Buccaneers.

The Rams have won the previous two as the teams combined for just 26 points in those games (9-0 Rams in 1989 NFC Championship, 11-6 Rams in 1999 NFC Championship). 

But Stafford, whose side cruised past the Arizona Cardinals in a 34-11 win last week, expects a high-scoring affair this time around.

Their Week 3 matchup this season did see plenty of scoring, and the Rams won 34-24, but Brady is a formidable opponent in the playoffs.

"The biggest thing about going against a guy like Tom is just knowing his consistency and his ability to get his team in the end zone," said Stafford.

"He's done a great job throughout his career, both in New England and in Tampa of scoring points and doing it kind of every which way.

"Whether they're going to run it, throw it, throw it deep, throw underneath – whatever it is, he always has a great game plan to go out there and execute at a high level. 

"So as an offense, we know we need to do the same. We have packed a great defense. Those guys are unbelievable players and dominated the game for us on Monday. 

"But at the same time, as an offense, you know you're going to have to go out there and score points, and enough to compete with the team that's led by Tom. It's a challenge.

"He's shown year in and year out how capable he is at doing that, especially this time of year. So it's a fun, exciting opportunity. We are playing the whole team, but he [Brady] is definitely a big part of it."

The win over the Cardinals was Stafford's first career postseason victory, meaning the Bucs clash will be his first taste of action in the Divisional Round. He only had to throw a season-low 17 pass attempts last week.

"That was just flow the game and nobody's ever talking about that number," he said. "We know we want to be balanced, like we always are. 

"We are just trying to go out there and feel the flow of the game, I think it's a credit to our guys up front, moving those guys in creating rush lanes, our guys did a great job around the football. 

"And then our defense was doing such a good job of giving us a short field. There's so many times where we had the ball with great field position, and those don't sometimes equate to long drives.

"Less plays, less opportunities to throw the football, but I take it as a positive. 

"I love throwing the ball, no doubt, but I love it when I hand it off, and our guys are getting 10 to 12 yards a pop. At this point I'll take [the yards] any way I can get them!

"This is a great opportunity. We've earned these opportunities as a team. I've loved being a part of this team. So I'm hoping that we continue to earn more opportunities. That's the goal at this point.

"Find ways to win games no matter what it looks like – hopefully, it looks great, like it did on Monday night, but sometimes games shakeout all different, you've got to find ways to win them."

J.J. Watt reflected on the Arizona Cardinals' 34-11 playoff defeat to the Los Angeles Rams as "a massive failure".

The Cardinals ended their season with a whimper at SoFi Stadium on Monday as the Rams dominated the Wild Card round clash between the NFC West rivals.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford ended his wait for a first playoff win, throwing touchdown passes for Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp while running in another.

Los Angeles will face defending champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida next Sunday in the divisional round. 

The Cardinals, on the other hand, are left to lick their wounds following a fifth defeat in seven games that brought their campaign to a juddering halt.

Watt returned from a shoulder injury to face the Rams and the defensive end pulled no punches with his verdict on the Cardinals' performance.

He said: "It was a massive failure from what we were capable of doing and from what we showed we can do [up until the game Monday], there's no other way to describe it than as a failure.

Quarterback Kyler Murray endured a game to forget, passing for 137 yards and throwing two interceptions in the Cardinals' first playoff game since 2015.

He said: "I play to win the Super Bowl. That's the goal, that's the mission, is to win the Super Bowl not to make the playoffs or go to the second round. We fell short."

He added: "It's disappointing that we didn't make it a game and come out and play the football we know we're capable of playing, that's really the most disappointing part.

"Losing is one thing, but when you don't even make it competitive, it's another thing.

"I put a lot on my shoulders, put a lot on myself and to dream of this moment and then be in the playoffs, the first game of the playoffs and then to play the way I did, to play the way we did, it's, like I said, disappointing."

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury: "When you're dropping back against that that group, it's not a good recipe.

"And that's what we've found ourselves in. So, we just made it a tough night."

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is thrilled that quarterback Matthew Stafford will no longer have to face questions about never winning a game in the NFL playoffs.

NFC West rivals the Arizona Cardinals were convincingly swatted aside by the Rams in the Wild Card round on Monday, the hosts triumphing 34-11.

The Rams will now move on to face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a huge Divisional Round game with a place in the NFC Championship up for grabs.

Stafford had only previously reached the playoffs three times in 12 years with the Detroit Lions before his trade to LA ahead of the 2021 campaign and had been winless in each of those postseason appearances.

"I thought he did a great job leading the way," McVay said, per ESPN, after Stafford threw touchdown passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp.

"He's still the same great player to me, and he always was before this game.

"So I think it's good so you guys don't have to talk about [him not having a playoff win] anymore. So he can get that one out of the way. 

"I am really proud of him. Just so lucky to be able to do this with him. He's our leader. We wouldn't be here without him."

Stafford only had to throw a season-low 17 pass attempts, but he was impressive in completing 13 of them, with three of his four incompletions being dropped passes.

The Rams' defense played a big part in the win too. The Cardinals were 21-0 behind before they were even able to record a first down, while cornerback David Long had a three-yard pick six on Kyler Murray, the shortest in playoff history.

"I'm just excited for our team to get the win," said Stafford. 

"What a team effort. Our defense played outstanding, special teams basically set up a score with [punter] Johnny [Hekker] pinning them down there, we did a great job on field goals. 

"And we were good enough on offense to score some points and come away with the win. Just happy to be moving on."

The Rams must now beat the defending NFL champions on the road to progress further in a postseason schedule which will culminate with the Super Bowl being hosted at their own SoFi Stadium.

LA were one of only three teams who beat the Bucs in the regular season but Stafford is under no illusions over the size of the task facing them.

He added: "It is a huge challenge. Obviously, a fantastic quarterback, great defense, a really good football team.

"I think their team is different than when we played them last [in Week 3], and I think we are, too, both [in] personnel and scheme a little bit. You always evolve throughout the season. 

"So it'll be interesting to see what they look like here as of late, and we'll go out there, attack and see what happens."

Matthew Stafford celebrated the end of his long wait for an NFL playoff win as the Los Angeles Rams sealed a stress-free victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.

The quarterback produced an immaculate performance as the Rams won 34-11 at SoFi Stadium, the venue for this year's Super Bowl, in the first match to be played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Stafford was 0-3 in playoff games over 12 years with the Detroit Lions but threw touchdown passes for Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp while running for another to ensure there would be no disappointment this time.

His reward is a showdown with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida next Sunday in the divisional round. The Rams were one of just three teams to beat the reigning champions in the regular season – a 34-24 win back in Week 3.

A 52-yard drive in the first quarter ended with Stafford finding OBJ with a four-yard pass for the opening TD of the game, the latter's first in the postseason.

It marked what would prove to be a display of efficiency from Stafford, who threw 13 of 17 passes – his lowest of the season – for 202 yards but did not commit a single turnover.

Von Miller – playing in his first postseason game since being MVP of Super Bowl 50 – sacked Kyler Murray as the Cardinals failed to respond, and in the first drive of the second quarter, Stafford found Beckham again for a 31-yard gain that led to his chance to run in touchdown number two.

Things went from bad to worse for the Cardinals as a Rams punt ended on the Arizona 1, and Murray thought he finally had a first down when he threw to AJ Green, but Nick Scott tackled the ball away from him to what was eventually called an incomplete pass. On the next play, Murray was panicked into rushing his throw from his own endzone, leading to a pick six as David Long intercepted and ran in for the TD.

It took until more than halfway through the second quarter for the Cardinals to get a first down as they fell 21-0 behind at halftime, and they were not back on the scoreboard until a little over four minutes remained in the third quarter.

Having surrendered a 17-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers last week, the Rams were determined to avoid a repeat, Beckham making NFL history as the first player in the postseason to finish with 30-yard receptions and completions in the same game.

Stafford's seven-yard pass let Kupp, who finished with a team-high five catches for 61 yards, quell any fears of a late Arizona response.

Eric Weddle is showing "great energy" after coming out of retirement and is primed to play a part against the Arizona Cardinals, says Sean McVay.

In a stunning move, six-time Pro Bowler Weddle re-joined the Los Angeles Rams this week for the playoffs, having previously retired after the 2019 season.

The safety will make his comeback against NFC West rivals the Cardinals on Monday, which will be 750 days since his last NFL appearance.

The roster move with Weddle came with the Rams having issues in their secondary.

Jordan Fuller was ruled out for the season due an ankle injury, while free safety Taylor Rapp has not cleared concussion protocol and will miss the game.

That could lead to significant snaps for the 37-year-old Weddle, who quit two years ago after 13 successful seasons in the league.

Rams head coach McVay revealed there are a range of outcomes over how involved Weddle will be in his first game back but is convinced the veteran will be ready.

"He's done a great job," McVay said, per ESPN, when asked about Weddle's progress. "He's brought a great energy. He's a great communicator. He's a great leader. 

"He'll be ready to go. What exactly that role looks like, we're still working through, but I do know as a competitor when he's out there, if he's going and he gets into the flow, he's gonna want to go.

"If he's feeling good and there's no risk and we're in a good flow, we'll kind of just take it a snap at a time. 

"It's hard for me to realistically put a parameter around it because this is something that's never been done before. 

"It could be 10 [snaps]; it could be 30. I think in a lot of instances too, it depends on what kind of personnel groupings we're presenting to the Cardinals' offense as well.

"[Rapp] is a big loss. He's doing everything in his power to get back as quickly as possible, but we have got a lot of confidence in Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess as well."

 

Weddle discussed his return earlier this week, insisting he had kept physically fit in retirement.

He said: "Even though I haven’t been playing football, I still train like I’m playing football.

"It [returning] was never even a remote possibility ever over the last year and a half because I was pretty much set in my decision and very happy. 

"This is by no means me having an itch or anything like that. It was just the opportunity of a lifetime.

"I just kept coming back to I would regret it if I didn’t come and take this chance to try to help out the guys that I love, a coach that I love and try to help this team out, whatever role that is.

"It didn't take much persuading. It was kind of just going through the avenues with all the coaches and reaching out to some players.

"I didn't want to come in and ruffle any feathers or be someone who gets in the way, but once all that was on the same page, it was a no brainer in my mind."

The Rams are at home for the Wild Card game after edging the Cardinals to win the NFC West.

Two games between the teams in the regular season were split, with each team winning on the road (37-20 Cardinals in L.A., 30-23 Rams in Arizona).

Arizona fared well on the road this season, going 8-1, but struggled to a 3-5 record at home.

Per Stats Perform data, in modern NFL history (since 1933), the only other team to have as many as five more road wins than home victories in a season is the Miami Dolphins, who went 6-2 on the road and 1-7 at home in 2010.

Eric Weddle is coming out of retirement to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams for the NFL playoffs.

The former All-Pro safety's agent, David Canter, on Wednesday revealed that Weddle will return to the Rams almost two years after calling time on his career.

With Jordan Fuller out for the season due an ankle injury and Taylor Rapp in concussion protocol, Los Angeles have turned to a familiar face for the postseason.

The 37-year-old Weddle quit following the 2019 season after just one campaign with the Rams, who take on the Arizona Cardinals in a wild-card clash at SoFi Stadium on Monday.

A six-time Pro Bowler, the veteran had brought his playing days to an end following 13 seasons in the league.

Weddle has tallied 29 interceptions, five defensive touchdowns, eight forced fumbles and 1,179 tackles in 201 career games.

He spent nine seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers, before joining the Baltimore Ravens and the Rams.

The Arizona Cardinals remain uncertain on the availability of running back James Conner for their Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Rams due to injured ribs.

Conner left Sunday's 38-30 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks nursing his ribs after 15 carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns.

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the side's medical staff were still evaluating Conner's condition ahead of Monday's game.

"He’s still being evaluated . . . hopefully, it’s not too serious," Kingsbury told Arizona Sports 98.7. "But we won’t know for the next couple days."

Conner had missed the Cardinals' previous two games due to a heel injury before making his comeback against the Seahawks.

The 26-year-old finished the regular season with an NFC-high 18 touchdowns, 15 rushing and three receiving. He ranked third in the NFL, behind only Austin Ekeler and Jonathan Taylor (both 20).

Conner has had 202 carries for 752 yards this season along with 37 receptions for 375 yards.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers revelled in a win they won't forget for a long time after claiming a dramatic 27-24 overtime triumph over the Los Angeles Rams to punch their ticket to the postseason.

The Niners went into Sunday's clash at SoFi Stadium knowing a victory would clinch a place in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A loss would have allowed the New Orleans Saints, who cruised past the Atlanta Falcons, to sneak in at their expense.

Quarterback Garoppolo, playing with a torn ligament in his left thumb, struggled early and the Niners fell into a 17-0 hole, a Robbie Gould field goal all San Francisco could muster before half-time.

But Deebo Samuel ran for a touchdown and then threw one to Jauan Jennings on a trick play to tie things up, with the same receiver on the end of a pass from Garoppolo to force overtime after Jalen Ramsey's endzone interception followed by Matthew Stafford's touchdown strike to Cooper Kupp had put the Rams back on top 24-17.

The 49ers won the coin toss and Garoppolo led a 12-play drive that ended in a Robbie Gould field goal to give them their first lead of the game, one they clung on to as rookie Ambry Thomas intercepted a Stafford deep shot intended for Odell Beckham Jr. to give San Francisco a sixth successive win over the Rams, securing a Wild Card matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

Garoppolo was limited in practice throughout the week after missing the 23-7 win over the Houston Texans in Week 17, but felt his hand improved over the course of an instant classic.

Asked about his thumb, Garoppolo told a media conference: "It feels great right now, after a win of course. It got better as it went I would say.

"Obviously with injuries like that your body's just learning and adapting the whole time. Early on it was pretty numb so it felt alright and then just got better and better as it went and I think my arm just kind of learned how to adapt to it.

"[There were] a lot of emotions, throughout the whole game, getting off to a slow start and just coming back like we did.

"It took everything, we say that a lot of weeks but this one really did. I felt it after the game I know a lot of guys in that locker room did, it was one of those games that you won't forget anytime soon."

Shanahan, who said Garoppolo's strong week of practice made it an easy decision to start him over rookie Trey Lance, echoed his quarterback's sentiments.

"Our guys are real resilient, I've been very proud of them," Shanahan said. 

"I'm just glad we get to go into the tournament and be a part of it because regardless of what happened today I was going to be very proud of those guys.

"Our goal every year is to get into the tournament so you've got a chance at the ultimate one. I think it's real hard when you have a season where you lose four in a row [as the Niners did Weeks 3-7].

"Most places when you lose four in a row it's tough to keep guys together. The character in our building and the players and everyone around it makes easy, you can just focus on your job and keep fighting and that's what our guys have done all year, they've just kept fighting, not worried about it anything else, in the meantime I think we've gotten better each time doing that and we've been able to overcome some injuries too."

The San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to the postseason as Ambry Thomas' overtime interception clinched a dramatic comeback win over the Los Angeles Rams.

San Francisco went into the Week 18 clash knowing a win would see them reach the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A loss would allow the New Orleans Saints, who cruised past the Atlanta Falcons, to sneak in and claim the final Wild Card berth.

The latter outcome looked the more likely when the Rams surged to a 17-0 lead and, even though the Niners got a field goal before half-time, San Francisco still faced an uphill battle.

However, Deebo Samuel scored a touchdown on the ground and then threw another to Jauan Jennings on a trick play to tie things up.

A juggling interception of Jimmy Garoppolo by Jalen Ramsey in the endzone followed by a Matthew Stafford strike to Cooper Kupp put the Rams in a seemingly commanding position at 24-17.

However, Garoppolo - playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb - led a five-play, 88-yard drive that finished with him connecting with Jennings, forced overtime at SoFi Stadium.

The 49ers won the coin toss and a 12-play, 69-yard drive on which Jennings featured heavily set up a Robbie Gould field goal to give San Francisco the lead for the first time.

And it was an advantage they held as Stafford's deep shot for Odell Beckham Jr. was plucked out of the air by rookie cornerback Thomas to set up a mouth-watering Wild Card matchup with the Niners' historic rivals the Dallas Cowboys.

For Los Angeles, it is a sixth successive defeat to the 49ers, though they still won the NFC West after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals, whom the Rams will host in the opening round of the playoffs.

Kyle Shanahan refused to reveal who the San Francisco 49ers will start at quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo listed as questionable ahead of their critical Week 18 clash with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Niners visit SoFi Stadium on Sunday aiming to extend their winning streak over the Rams to six games. A victory in the regular-season finale will clinch a playoff berth for the second time in three seasons.

Should the 49ers lose, then they would need the New Orleans Saints to suffer defeat to the Atlanta Falcons to secure their spot in the Wild Card round. A San Francisco loss and a Saints win would put New Orleans in the playoffs.

They will be facing a Rams team looking to clinch the NFC West title for the first time since the 2018 season.

And it remains unclear whether the Niners will do so with Garoppolo or rookie third overall pick Trey Lance under center.

Garoppolo missed the 49ers' 23-7 win over the Houston Texans in Week 17 after suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb in San Francisco's Week 16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

After a shaky first half, Lance impressed in his stead, throwing for 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while adding 31 yards on the ground.

The 21-year-old, making only his second start, averaged the most air yards per attempt (11.91) of any quarterback last week and delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 82.6 per cent of his attempts.

However, Garoppolo has practiced in a limited capacity for three straight days, boosting hopes of a return to the starting line-up that head coach Shanahan would not confirm.

Garoppolo was listed as questionable and Shanahan told a media conference: "He had a good week. Yeah, a good week of practice when he was in there. I feel good with where he is at right now."

He added: "I know what we're doing. I just don't feel like telling you right now.

"I'm not deciding Sunday morning. We don't have any practice left. I know where Jimmy's at today. I know where Trey's at. I know where our team is at and I feel pretty good about where we're at, so I'm excited to get to Sunday. I am really glad I don't have any press conferences after today.

"I think you guys understand why you don't announce it. But regardless, especially with Trey playing last week, we've got two guys here with some experience that our team feels good with and we'll see how it plays out."

San Francisco's Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams has not practiced all week and is listed as questionable. In the secondary, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is expected to return from an ankle injury while rookie corner Ambry Thomas came off the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Corners K'Waun Williams, Dontae Johnson and Deommodore Lenoir and starting free safety Jimmie Ward remain on the COVID-19 list, though both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have expressed confidence more members of their secondary will be activated off the list on Saturday.

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