Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay said it was “kind of crazy” to return to Tampa Bay to face his former side on Monday night.
Gay kicked a 40 yard field goal 2:36 in the game to put the Rams in the lead at 27-24, and Rams safety Jordan Fuller intercepted quarterback Tom Brady at 1:57 to secure the win and improve to 7-3.
“You can’t write it,” said Gay. “It’s one of those stories that you sit on the training team and then when you activate the first game, you go back to where you were last year and the place you should have felt and played on prime time football on Monday night. There were a lot of emotions for me when I came back. “
The Buccaneers picked Gay 2019 with a fifth-round selection, but waived him before this season. The Rams signed Gay from the Indianapolis Colts training team last Monday. He arrived in LA later that day and entered the COVID-19 protocol before joining the team on the practice field on Saturday, two days before facing the Bucs.
Gay converted two out of three field goal attempts on Monday. He took a 38-yard kick in the first quarter to give the Rams a 17-14 lead, then missed a 44-yard try with the game that drew at 17 in the third quarter before hitting a 40- The yard kick that put the Rams on forever.
“When you see how Matt has acted throughout the game, it feels like there’s a lot of confidence,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. “I know he had that one flaw, but you can tell the difference between a ‘flaw’ and one of those who ‘looks a little shaky’. It was true all night. Great size, good timing and him was very accurate. I loved what he did. It was a great snap, great hold, great operation. He did it and it was as true as it gets. “
As a rookie in Tampa Bay last season, Gay converted 27 out of 35 (77.1%) field attempts and scored 43 out of 48 (89.6%) extra points. He lost his training camp job that season to veteran Ryan Succop.
Gay said Monday that LA punter Johnny Hekker was instrumental in the Rams’ decision to sign him.
“Johnny texted me and said he really wanted me here,” said Gay. “He said he texted Sean McVay personally to hit for me.”
The Rams have been looking for a kicker since veteran Greg Zuerlein left for the Dallas Cowboys freehand in the off-season.
Samuel Sloman, a seventh from Miami, Ohio, won the starting job against Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis from training camp but was unable to consistently implement field goals and struggled with kickoffs.
The Rams cut Sloman after week 7, signing veteran Kai Forbath, who also turned out to be inconsistent, before suffering an ankle injury in week 11 and being placed in an injured reserve.