Buccaneers vs. Rams Final Score: St. Louis sacks Tampa Bay, 23-13

Dilip Vishwanat

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn't get it done against the St. Louis Rams, who choked an anemic Tampa Bay offense with seven sacks on the day.

The Buccaneers couldn't get the offense going in an ugly, turnover-marred game. Despite that, it didn't take long for Tampa Bay to get on the scoreboard. Vincent Jackson got them inside the five-yard line with two big catches, and Bobby Rainey got to the edge to put the Bucs up 7-0 early. The Rams immediately returned the favor, driving down the field on the back of Zac Stacy, despite an injury to Jake Long, which kept him out for all but three snaps of the game.

What should have been a defensive struggle then turned into an offensive shootout, ever so briefly. The Rams got their second touchdown on a crazy reverse (or double reverse, as it's often called) to Stedman Bailey, which came after recovering a Bobby Rainey fumble. One drive later, Stacy did it again, with Kellen Clemens helping a little along the way -- and then fumbling the ball on an ugly quarterback draw on the goal-line.

A Mike Glennon sack at the goal-line nearly made that fumble irrelevant, but the defense came up big again: Dekoda Watson forced another fumble, this time from Zac Stacy, and the Bucs proceeded to recover. They only managed a field goal out of that drive, but that turned what looked like a sure 21-7 deficit into a manageable 14-10 score at halftime.

After the half, both teams started to trade field goals. A fake onside kick helped the Rams get the field position on one of those, while the Bucs managed to move down the field but consistently faltered in the red zone. One major issue was an inability to run the ball all game long. Bobby Rainey got a touchdown, but averaged just 1.9 yards per rush.

The defense tightened up in the second half to keep the Bucs in striking distance despite the offensively inept play. Gerald McCoy notched his ninth sack, underscoring his All-Pro quality season. Dashon Goldson tried to ruin the party with yet another hit to the head of a defenseless receiver, which will almost certainly cost him some money and possibly a second suspension. Still, the defense did well to hold the Rams offense to field goals despite the quality field position St. Louis received throughout the game.

That field position came largely courtesy of Mike Glennon, who took seven sacks, most of them unnecessarily, and at one point decided that running into his offensive lineman's butt with a collapsing pocket was a better play than throwing away the ball. Glennon had an ugly game despite solid pass protection from his offensive line. Free blitzers were a much bigger problem, as was Glennon's lack of decisiveness. That said, Robert Quinn did repeatedly destroy Donald Penn over the final handful of snaps in the NFL.

With another ugly loss to another not-so-good team and a 4-11 record, the Bucs are ending the year on a down note.

What's next?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints for their final game of the season. With today's loss, Greg Schiano desperately needs a win against one of the NFC's best teams to remain head coach of the Buccaneers.

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