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Rams have stood in Bucs path to the Super Bowl twice before

Chris Godwin, Jalen Ramsey
Posted at 10:47 AM, Jan 21, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams meet again Sunday, this time in an NFC Divisional Round game. But the two franchises are no strangers to each other, especially on some of the biggest stages in the National Football League.

The Buccaneers were only in their fourth year of existence in 1979 when the team shocked the league with a 10-6 record and played their way to the NFC Championship game. The Bucs, led by quarterback Doug Williams, welcomed the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC Championship game on January 6, 1980.

In a defensive struggle that saw neither team get into the end zone, the Rams got three field goals from kicker Frank Corral to knock the Bucs out of the playoffs and dash the hopes of a Super Bowl berth.

It turned out, that would be the closest the Buccaneers got to the Super Bowl for the next 20 years.

But 20 years later, the Buccaneers had one of the most ferocious defenses the NFL had ever seen powered by the likes of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch to name a few. Then Bucs Head Coach Tony Dungy had the team on the cusp of a Super Bowl bid in 1999 when the team played in the NFC Championship Game against…the St. Louis Rams (the team had moved to St. Louis at this point).

This wasn’t just any Rams team though. This was the “Greatest Show on Turf” as they were affectionately known. The Rams had the number one offense in the league and had outscored opponents by almost 300 points that season.

Led by quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk, the Rams ran through, over, and around the NFC in 1999. The Rams’ run led to the epic matchup with the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis.

While some expected offensive fireworks, the game turned into a defensive struggle between both teams. Only one touchdown was scored in the game as the Bucs defense did what was expected of them, but the offense couldn’t find any success against a stout Rams defense.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Bucs were driving after the Rams’ lone touchdown of the game. Bucs quarterback Shaun King threw a pass that was caught by wide receiver Bert Emanuel. However, the referees went to replay and said Emanuel didn’t catch the pass. Tampa Bay’s drive ended along with their Super Bowl hopes.

Incidentally, the non-catch call on Emanuel led to a rule clarification on what constitutes a catch by the NFL Rules Committee. After the change, the Emanuel play would have been ruled a catch. That rule clarification became known as the Bert Emanuel rule.

Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round game will be the first time the teams have met since that controversial call. Tampa Bay wants to dispose of the Rams after getting mauled by Los Angeles in the regular season and move one step closer to a second straight Super Bowl appearance. To do so, they’ll have to get by their old nemesis in the Rams.