Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
Tampa Bay claimed to want the short turnaround of Thursday Night Football to make up for Sunday’s flat performance against New Orleans but St. Louis had other ideas.
The Rams scored on the game’s first possession, sped out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead and never let the Bucs get close until there were less than two minutes remaining. Thursday’s loss drops Tampa Bay to 6-8 overall and officially put to bed talks of the postseason.
In what might be the final game at the Edward Jones Dome if a relocation to Los Angeles comes to fruition, rookie linebacker Bryce Hager sealed the Rams’ 31-23 victory when he scooped up Connor Barth’s onside kick attempt with 1:33 showing on the clock.
“Any time you lose it hurts, but when so much was at stake you just want to play better football,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said.
Nearing the end of his second year leading Tampa Bay, Smith bounced between commenting on Thursday’s defeat and looking forward to the future.
“We lost two games [in a row]. It’s no more than that,” he said. “If you look at the big picture; tonight, disappointment for this game, but overall we’re headed in the right direction. We have a couple spots where we’re a little shorthanded and we’re not playing as well as we need to. They can affect a lot of things. But big picture is what you have look toward. Disappointment tonight, but we’re still headed in the right direction.”
Tampa Bay posted 17 fourth-quarter points to make the final look more respectable but an ugly first half had the Bucs playing catchup all night. Not much else other than running of Doug Martin (68 first-half yards on 13 carries) went well during the opening 30 minutes. The Rams took a comfortable 21-3 lead into the break after outgaining Tampa Bay 215-130.
The Bucs ended up out-producing St. Louis 509-319 in total yardage, but drives didn’t begin to produce points until it was too late. The 509-yard total ranks second this season to the 521 Tampa Bay posted during Week 11’s win in Philadelphia.
“It was just one of those days,” Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said in his postgame press conference. “One of those days. We had plenty of opportunities. The good things on offense [were that] Doug Martin still did what he does, Mike Evans showed up to play, Adam Humphries showed up to play, and in these situations your quarterback has to show up to play.”
Entering the night battered on defense, Tampa Bay played like it early and especially against the pass. Making his third start of the season, Rams quarterback Case Keenum completed 10 of 13 attempts for 175 yards in the first half and 14 of 17 for 234 overall. Both of the third-year signal caller’s touchdown passes came in the opening quarter, first hitting Tavon Austin on a 17-yard wide receiver screen three minutes into the game and later hooking up on a 60-yard strike to receiver Kenny Britt.
A 53-yard Barth field goal to cap the Bucs’ second possession represented Tampa Bay’s lone score in the first half.
Winston posted the first 300-yard passing game of his career but struggled to find a rhythm early while being harassed by St. Louis defenders. The rookie ended up with 363 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 29 of 50 passing. He avoided being sacked despite taking 11 hits.
“They were throwing a lot of different things at us,” Winston said. “We were protecting good enough. I just have to make throws. The first two third downs we got, you’ve just got to pitch and catch.”
Winston showed his frustration on the field midway through the second quarter when he scrambled for a 5-yard gain and took a high hit from Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. No flag was thrown for the collision and players on both teams jawed back and forth before the Bucs set up to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Rams 23. Tampa Bay trailed 14-3 at the time and Martin’s run to the left was blown up in the backfield by St. Louis defensive tackle Aaron Donald for a 2-yard loss.
The failed conversion proved critical as the Rams marched 75 yards over nine plays to set up rookie running back Todd Gurley’s 3-yard touchdown run and pull ahead 21-3.
Gurley’s scoring run put him over the 1,000-yard mark, though the Bucs did limit him to 48 yards on 21 carries. The rookie is now the third leading rusher in the NFL behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Martin, who sits atop the list with 1,305 yards after totaling 91 yards on 18 touches Thursday.
Martin is now 239 yards away from tying James Wilder’s single-season franchise rushing record set in 1984. Martin’s current 1,305-yard total places him third all-time behind Wilder and his own mark of 1,454 posted during his 2012 rookie season.
Winston threw for 314 of his 363 yards while airing it out 38 times over the final 30 minutes. His first touchdown didn’t come until early in the final quarter on a 3-yard connection with Luke Stocker, the second of the tight end’s career and first since Week 3 of the 2012 season.
Another tight end, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, hauled in Winston’s second scoring pass on a 9-yarder to set up Barth’s onside attempt.
Wideout Mike Evans led all receivers by catching nine of his 17 targets for 157 yards and surpassed 1,000 yards for the second straight season. With 1,046 yards, Evans is five off last year’s total with two games remaining.
Defensively, Tampa Bay failed to force a takeaway for the second week in a row and third in the past four games. The Bucs lost Thursday’s turnover battle 2-0. Martin coughed up his fourth fumble of the season in the third quarter and Winston threw his 12 interception one drive prior to throwing his 20th touchdown.
Defensive end William Gholston led all tacklers with 11 and linebackers Lavonte David and Danny Lansanah both recorded eight. Lansanah slid into the middle due to the injury to Bruce Carter and recently reacquired Orie Lemon started on the strongside. Lemon recorded one tackle behind the line of scrimmage and two overall.
The Bucs were credited with four hits on Keenum and sacked him twice. Defensive end Howard Jones and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy split a first-half sack and defensive end Jacquies Smith got through for the other.
Not one to show negativity even in the aftermath of defeat, Winston said there is still plenty to play for with two weeks remaining on the schedule.
“It’s a lesson learned,” he said. “You’ve just got to learn a lesson, got to move forward, and the season’s not over yet. What we wanted … our playoff hopes are probably done, but the season isn’t over yet. We’re still going to go out there and compete, still going to go out there and fight and try to go 8-8.”
Following Tampa Bay’s first back-to-back losses since dropping games against Houston and Carolina, the Bucs get extra days to prepare for their final home game against Chicago on Dec. 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
WR Donteea Dye, LT Donovan Smith, LG Logan Mankins, C Joe Hawley, RG Ali Marpet, RT Gosder Cherilus, TE Luke Stocker, WR Mike Evans, QB Jameis Winston, RB Doug Martin, TE Cameron Brate
DE Will Gholston, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Tony McDaniel, DE Jacquies Smith, SLB Orie Lemon, MLB Danny Lansanah, WLB Lavonte David, CB Sterling Moore, CB Jude Adjei-Barimah, SS Chris Conte, FS Major Wright
QB Ryan Griffin, LB Bruce Carter, T Demar Dotson, TE Brandon Myers, WR Vincent Jackson, DE George Johnson, DT Akeem Spence
DID NOT PLAY
QB Mike Glennon
Paid attendance: 51,295, Edward Jones Dome
Game time: 3:15
I think this game took the rose colored glasses off many “glasses half full” fans, we got picked apart by yet another journeyman backup who might be one of the worst backups in the league. No pass rush yet again, corners playing soft making Kenny Britt look like Julio Jones, o-line struggling to block on 3 step drops. I know some of you fellow posters hated me pointing the teams glaring defeciancies out but it came to light yet again tonight. For those of you who say “a win is a win” well when you beat the Jags, Falcons and Cassels Cowboys, your problems don’t go away they re surface again even vs subpar teams like the Rams, Redskins, Giants, Colts and Texans. This schedule was for the taking for any decent team but we are not one, we had the number one pick for a reason its because we sucked and many holes to fill. NOW- the “glass half full” editorial, we have our franchise qb even though Winston still needs to improve his deep ball he has that “it” factor and the “never say die” attitude you can’t coach, I just love how he got in the special teams ass after they gave up that huge return. Doug Martin is an elite rb in this league the Rams had 8-9 guys in the box and Martin continues to run through tackles with burst, signing him this offseason is a priority, losing him would be catastrophic for this team and Winston. Marpet and D Smith are the future on the line and we found our MLB in Kwon but Rome wasn’t built in a day neither will Tampa, “if” the Bucs make the right personnel moves in the next few yrs we should be able to contend with the elite of the NFL and not be estatic with wins over the happless Jags and Cassels Cowboys. What was up with that 4th and one call? You have a 6’4 Qb with balls run him up the middle or roll him out or something. Not sure Koetter is the guy nor Lovie but both will be back to show if they are next yr. Here’s to next yr and go ahead and light me up it doesn’t matter, I have 20/20 vision with this team and see our weak spots and where we need to improve.
We all see them BF47 err JonnyG. No need to belittle people who want to enjoy a win even though you seek to put asterisks on them. I guess we shouldn’t play the schedule.
agree CG I love Winstons never quit attitude I just wish it was more infectious
Scu-Raise the bar for our Bucs Buddy, I know we suck and you want to feel good about home wins vs Jags and Atlanta like a “I’ll take it attitude” but raise the bar don’t you want to compete with the better teams in the NFL and not be at the Jags level?
Again, I, for one, am not doing somersaults over the victories we had on which you place an asterisk any more than I will threaten to cancel my 40years of season tickets for 2016 over the losses. You have to agree that losing to those teams against whom the mighty Bucs squeaked out a “tainted” win, would have been more cause for concern. It’s easy to see the problem lies with Lovie’s defense personnel and a return specialist that does more than fair catches.
You’re right Jon, this was ugly. This defense is just a travesty and I don’t think Lovie is the guy to run it. I do not care who is out there on defense, you can’t stop case keenum?! We aren’t a good team but we have the right pieces as you say. But we are going to need a complete overhaul on this defense and one year is not going to do it.
spot on… i like our DL and OL depth… better than i thought they’d b… even with the banged up front 7 they held Gurley in check… the secondary is the most glaring need on this team… we could get two simeon rice & it wouldn’t matter because our corners & safeties can’t get it together
The defensive backfield was lousy and I imagine that there are going to be several high draft selections to try to remedy the situation. I know Jameis is young, but trying to play that fired up just throws his game off. When he settled down in the second half, things started to click. And Jameis sliding… yes. Better than upside down cartwheels. Let’s keep the season in perspective; this season was about one question… Did the Bucs draft themselves a franchise QB? That’s all I care about. Even a couple of losses at the end of the year can’t dampen my enthusiasm for what’s in store for Bucs fans in the future. Oh, and to Jon’s point… fourth and one is Jameis up the middle time. C’mon man-Koetter.
I feel good about our fine OB Jameis Winston and Mr. Martin leads the NFL. I see a bright future. They can’t stop Evans. The other problems can be fixed. We have our core team. Go Bucs…
After last week’s loss, I really didn’t care if they won this game. They still need some help on defense and higher pick in the draft will help that. There is still a lot for Winston to learn and hopefully he continues to keep studying film like all of the analysts are saying he does. I do feel confident that we should make the playoffs next year
If any of you think our defense will become good next year because we draft, and plug in a couple of rookies you’re sadly mistaken. The scheme, or the way Lovie runs it just doesn’t work. Yeah we’re banged up on defense, but we weren’t during the beating we took from the hands of the Titans. Mariota looked like the second coming that day, but not since. Last night future HOF Kase Keenum, (joke) tore us up. Lovie is a horrible coach, and if he comes back look for 8-8 next year. Dirk,a simple play, Q.B. sneak, see Tom Brady, and the Patriots. Why run sideways when A Donald is on the field. Speaking of him, that’s the way a real pro bowl 3 tackle plays the game. Blowing up suckers, and pounding Q.B.’s. Two games left, with the Panthers playing for nothing. If we don’t win at least one, and end the season with a four game losing streak, I’d S can Lovie. I wanted to see real progress this year. Some hopeful signs, but to end the season like this is a major disappointment. One other thing, why not try an onside kick earlier in the game to swing momentum when they don’t expect it like the Skins did to us?
Well, I’m one of the folks wearing rose colored glasses believing that my glass is half full, because it is.
Now I’m livid about losing last night, but I knew that the Rams were a tough bunch and this game would be tough sledding. When the season started, I originally thought this was a loss.
My glass is half full because I saw this Bucs team play a great defense tough with little more than a rookie QB, 1 WR, and 1 RB. The second half was encouraging. The attitude is a winner’s attitude which gives me hope that the potholes can be fixed.
I would be less than candid if I didn’t say that Lovie Smith is a disappointment with the defense that we have fielded, injuries notwithstanding. There is no excuse for having a secondary of this making after what is essentially the third year of his administration. I will leave his fate to the Glazers, but nobody should be happy with the talent level and the production of the defense – that is his advertised specialty.
But even still I remain upbeat about our future. The foundation pieces are in place. It is now up to Lovie and Licht to put a complete product on the field. I look forward to seeing that happen…..soon!
I also wanted to add that soon we will be talking about the draft and free agency. The conversation will no doubt be focused on the defense.
But our freshly minted new franchise QB is not going to last long taking the kind of beating he took last night! Granted the defense should be be overhauled, but getting our QB broken would be a travesty. Hopefully, somebody is seeing what I’m seeing – not good my friends, not good!
Thought our defense was overhauled Mac? Lovie has brought all his old buddies in. Barron sure looked better then any safety we had on the field last night. Lovie couldn’t wait to replace him with Conte, lol. The team will improve, but I don’t believe it will ever be great under Lovie. Look how well the Pats play with no names on defense. If you can’t make a first round safety work in your scheme, and think Conte, Wright, and McBumble are better players then Barron, you shouldn’t be in charge of a pro team.
Yikes!…I’m glad you saw something encouraging @mac, I only saw pain. I saw GMC get SCHOOLED by a guy in his second year showing what a real DT looks like. I saw our OL show just how far away they are from being ADEQUATE – and its a long long way. I saw a team falling apart, yelling at everyone in sight, complaining about their teammates, their opponents, the refs. It was U-G-L-Y…yes we got some garbage time stats….that didn’t remove the stink one tiny bit. ….now for a piece of optimism (because I promised to look on the bright side in each post)…Martin ran well when the game was still a game…Evans made some nice catches despite getting a lot of attention…but I think we probably knew those two guys were going to be okay.
And the other piece of good news would be that that loss probably moved us up 3 or 4 slots in the draft….
No EEB, I saw the same things you saw, I just feel differently about it. As you say, it was ugly. But it’s always been ugly. You saw a team that made a journeyman QB look like a HOFer. When you have no secondary, that’s what usually happens. I knew that going in and true to form as it is week in and week out, we can’t defend a pass.
I’m simply saying I saw that and more. I wouldn’t call the whole second half garbage time and the Bucs did some good things there. As bad as the defense is we held one of the best RBs in the league to 48yds on 21 carries. As bad as the offensive line played, Winston got beat up but never sacked. I saw us in the red zone twice and came away with field goals, once on the 1 yard line where ASJ’s immaturity costs us a TD. Score on those two drives and it’s a different ball game!
Yes we stunk, but I’m saying it’s not because we’re rotten to the core. We are bad, but we’re going to get better with or without Lovie!
Better days ahead Mac…that seems likely now, after a long period of uncertainty around here. And I am on total agreement with your comments on the draft/FA needs….shoring up a defense only to see us lose our QB and leader would be devastating…more from to come on this analysis…
Ugly…ugly! We have the QB & the Running Back, but Lovie’s defense sucks bad. No pass rush and the secondary is just awful!
Cover 2 is just old and antiquated. Penalties. My God, how out of controlled in that area this team is. And it comes with a cost. Too, the special teams need lots of improvement. New ST coach?
every team in the league runs cover 2… the bucs played more man this year than cover 2
I’m surprised there wasn’t a stronger negative reaction to this loss. I’m with EastEndBoy and Pvine in thinking that this was an ugly game. This loss bothered me as much if not more than any other loss this season. Maybe it was because it was our only primetime game when facing complete playoff elimination against a team with a worse record. Winston performed like he normally does overall (whether that’s good or bad I’ll wait to discuss at the end of the season) but I thought he handled himself poorly in the national spotlight. He seemed nervous and didn’t throw the ball well at first and didn’t throw well until the 2nd half when the Rams were up by so much they could just sit in a soft zone and prevent the big play, allowing holes underneath and it worked. Seeing him argue with and bounce between opposing players like a ping pong ball didn’t seem to fire his teammates up and get them to play better. As for the defense, they were horrible on the first drive and only clamped down on the run when we knew they were running because the defense let them get so many points passing the ball. Lovie has got to blitz more on 3rd down, it works nearly every time. Special teams were awful as well, so overall a very poor showing from the coaching staff and players in primetime.
Pink- Give your ego a vacation about Winston he is in the discussion for rookie of the yr if you can’t see that than your so egocentric about your about your feeling on Winston to see other wise
There’s the pink I know. Just waiting for a bad game to pick on our teams quarterback. This dude has already set almost every franchise record and all u do is complain. JonG is right. Your own ego is clouding your judgement on what could possibly be the rookie of the year. He was under duress the whole game and if u actually listened to the commentary stating how Jameis had no time to step into his throws because of the pressure, u might not have had the same response. I’ve always enjoyed your two cents pink but now it’s coming off as nonsense. Let me know when ur doing the evaluation of our franchise quarterback so I can call off work. I don’t want to miss ur scoutIng evaluation
Well no luck at all and we got beat by an up and down team. Winston took a beating and the OL should be ashame. What’s the story with Dotson being Inactive again? I have to admit i was disappointed; not because we didn’t win, but because we need another WR,2 DE, 2 Safeties, 2 Corners, probably another RB because martin will sign with a contender,and most importantly a new Defensive Coordinator with a new scheme. The only bright side I saw was the season is almost over. Ar this point anybody who isn’t listed as Probable should go on IR and we need to pick up a half a dozen other plyaers from Practice Squads lets bring up some more players from our existing Practice Squad. Go Bucs! Get lucky with Chicago!
“The only bright side I saw was the season is almost over.” Good one Horse! Although by March I will be craving another Bucs game, even a bad one like this. They have 6 wins, that is better than last year. The problem I have is just that we all want instant gratification and a winner next year and we are now seeing that there are two many problems and HOLES in the roster for them to be that winner next year. We will have to go through another year of slow progress and likely fall short of the playoffs, let alone the goal of being a real contender.
Well that was a horrible effort. Jamie’s took an ass whooping and players need to lol in the mirror after this one. Why in the fuck is Dotson not playing?
Case keenum lit us up in the first half, that is beyond pathetic and there is some glaring needs on that side of the ball. McCoy might as well go on ir, I’m tired of watching our 12 million dollar man get pushed around.
As for fourth and 1 has koetter never heard of a qb sneak? Not once this year have we run one.
Too many drops again as per usual and we should change our team color to yellow to go with all of the flags.
Good to see pink couldn’t wait to chime in bashing Jameis. Can’t find the guy anywhere in a positive article. And you can’t knock a guy for stats in the second half century, because that’s were more than half of mariotas stats come from. I saw a bunch of deep throws to Evans against man coverage.
Didn’t throw well in the first half? Get on your back once and try to theow the ball and see how easy it is. As for Jameis getting into people’s faces, I know you don’t like that, I’m sure you’d rather have the mime on the sideline standing by himself.
Lovie and his ass aren’t going to get in anyone’s faces. This team has a losers mentality and Jameis just won’t accept that. I’m glad he was getting into people’s faces. He never argued with a coach just players. Did you see anyone say anything to asj after that stupid penalty? No one but Jameis.
Jamie’s is already tired of losing. And so are most of us. And believe me most of us don’t care what your one year take on Winston is. He could and probably will win rookie of the year and you still complain.
WOW. Doesn’t get much worse than that 1st half. Probably most disappointing is that that’s how they’ve shown in the ‘Must-Win’ games this year. -Oh, and on the national stage… JonG called the backup QB thing- but Stocker had a decent showing, haha. Gotta bounce back against Chicago-if i have to listen to all the Bears fans up here talk shit, that would SUCK (even more that last night’s 1st half D)
koetter’s play calling played a bigger part in the last two losses than anything else but he always seems to get a pass
Agree with most of what you have to say except this being essentially Loive’s third year.
Stated a couple of days ago this was going to be a tough game because of all the injuries on the defensive line.
Although the CB’s are a problem, especially Abberderjenie guy, the real reason the QB flourished was due to a non existent pass rush.
In the meantime, one of jongrudens whipping boys. Luke Stocker, proved to have had a pretty good game.
Not only did he catch a TD pass and as many passes and yardage as the Unicorn, but he made a heads up play on the moron Dontea Dye’s ball that he flipped away without hearing the whistle.
Speaking of bonehead plays, how many times is the Unicorn going to think only of himself.
His little petulant act of throwing the ball away cost us a sure TD.
I know both these guys are young but that behavior isn’t condoned in college, why would it be okay to do it in the pros.
It’s just selfish.
I said earlier that Winston would have to have a near perfect game to win and that was hardly the case in the first half.
I love his leadership as well but he needs to tone it down and get more calm.
A lot of those high throws are the result of him being amped up. He needs to get more composed so he doesn’t take that excitement out to the field and into his throws.
Although not named, I believe you are referring to my statement regarding Lovie’s tenure. I was trying to say that for all intent and purposes, this year is over and beginning his third year. Thanks for catching the error. We all know that Lovie has only been here two seasons.
” I was trying to say that for all intent and purposes, this year…” Yes, but was it really already over when we lost to the Titans?
You are correct macabee.
One again we got jobbed by the refs, just not as severely as in the past.
The one play in particular was Winston’s scramble when it appeared he got a bad spot.
Not only did we get a bad spot, but Winston was pushed twice in the aftermath in a much worse fashion that has resulted in flags on the Bucs. Not only that but one of the pushes was in full view of the refs.
Worst defense in the league….worst scheme.
Sadly we will be seeing this next year also cause Lovie will be back. Mediocre is all we will be with this defense. The glass will always be half full/empty.
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