Zuerlein's overtime kick sinks Saints and sends Rams to Super Bowl
Kicker Greg Zuerlein was the hero for the Los Angeles Rams as his overtime field goal sealed a 26-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints and a place in Super Bowl LIII.
Zuerlein kept his cool in two high-pressure situations as Sunday's thrilling contest in the Superdome reached its conclusion, sending the game into an extra period with a 48-yarder with only 19 seconds remaining, and then splitting the posts from 57 yards as the Rams capitalised on a Drew Brees interception.
The Rams, who only moved back to Los Angeles ahead of the 2016 season, will head to Atlanta to take on either the Kansas City Chiefs or the New England Patriots, who do battle in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead later on Sunday.
It was a devastating loss for the Saints and veteran QB Brees, who guided the franchise to glory in their only Super Bowl appearance in 2010, but for victorious head coach Sean McVay and the Rams it was an outstanding triumph for a side that were utterly dominated for the first quarter and found themselves 13-0 behind.
A pair of Wil Lutz field goals and Brees' five-yard TD pass for Garrett Griffin - who had not played a snap all season - had the Saints in control but Jared Goff and the Rams offense found its rhythm in the second quarter and were only three points down at the half courtesy of a Zuerlein kick and Todd Gurley's six-yard run to the end zone.
Brees found Taysom Hill for a two-yard TD midway through the third quarter but Goff responded in kind as he passed to Tyler Higbee for a simple score.
Zuerlein levelled matters with his second field goal and Saints felt hard done by inside the two-minute warning when Nickell Robey-Coleman got away with clear pass interference in taking out Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived.
That forced Lutz to nail his third kick and restore the Saints' lead, but Zuerlein banged over his effort to force overtime and when Brees was picked off by John Johnson, the Rams engineered an opportunity for Zuerlein to make himself the hero.