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Former Utah Ute Matt Gay sends Rams to NFC championship game with walk-off field goal

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Los Angeles Rams’ Matt Gay (8) kicks a game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Los Angeles Rams’ Matt Gay (8) kicks a game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

John Raoux, Associated Press

Talk about a redemption story.

Former Utah Utes kicker Matt Gay hit the 30-yard game-winning field goal as time expired for the Los Angeles Rams as they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27 on Sunday.

The win sends the Rams to the NFC championship game next week, where they will host the San Francisco 49ers for the right to advance to the Super Bowl.

Gay, playing against a Buccaneers franchise that had let him go after drafting him in 2019, had missed a 47-yard field goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter that would have given Los Angeles a 30-13 lead.

Tampa Bay then rallied to tie the game at 27, all by scoring two touchdowns in the final four minutes, including a Leonard Fournette 9-yard run on fourth down with 42 seconds to play.

On the ensuing drive, the Rams got into scoring range on a 44-yard pass down the middle from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp, setting up Gay’s winner.

After Stafford spiked the ball with four seconds to play to stop the clock, Gay came on and calmly hit the game-winner, the third time during the divisional playoffs this weekend that the winner was determined by a field goal as time expired.

Gay, who was named to the Pro Bowl this season for the first time in his career, also made field goals of 26 and 40 yards in the first half.

Two other former Utes were also victorious with the Rams on Sunday. Former Utah safety Eric Weddle had four tackles in his second game after coming out of retirement after two years away from the game, while former Ute safety Terrell Burgess added a pair of tackles.

Here’s a look at how other Utah ties performed in this week’s divisional games:

Chiefs 42, Bills 36

With fellow Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu leaving the game after going into concussion protocols, former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen tied for the team lead with nine tackles, including six solo stops.

Former BYU safety Zayne Anderson played on special teams for the Chiefs, as did former Layton High wide receiver Marcus Kemp, who had a tackle.

Former Weber State star Taron Johnson started at cornerback for Buffalo and had seven tackles, including five solo stops, and a sack for a loss of 1 yard in a losing effort.

Former Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei had three tackles, including two solo stops, for Buffalo, while former Utah running back Zack Moss did not play.

49ers 13, Packers 10

Former BYU linebacker Fred Warner played a big role in helping the 49ers upset the Packers, finishing the game with six tackles — which included four solo stops and a tackle for loss — and a forced fumble.

On a first-and-10 play at San Francisco’s 42 on Green Bay’s second drive of the game, Warner stripped Marcedes Lewis of the ball, and teammate Dre Greenlaw recovered.

That helped the 49ers avoid going down two scores early in a contest that ultimately ended with just one offensive touchdown.

Former Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 46.8 yards per punt on five punts for the 49ers, and he pinned two of those inside the 20. Green Bay’s average field position to start a drive was its own 23.

Two former Utah State players — quarterback Jordan Love and defensive end Tipa Galeai — are on Green Bay’s active roster. Galeai played a handful of special teams snaps, while Love, Aaron Rodgers’ backup, did not play.

Bengals 19, Titans 16

There was no Utah impact in this game, as the only local tie on the active roster for either team — former Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis — did not play for the Bengals.