The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost their second game in a row, this time losing against the Austin Davis-led St. Louis Rams. Bobby Rainey did all he could to lead the Bucs to victory, but seven injuries, a blocked punt, a blocked field goal, conservative game management and a bad red zone interception turned out to be too much for Lovie Smith's team to overcome. The Bucs are now 0-2 after facing backup quarterbacks in consecutive weeks, and travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons in just four days.
The game didn't really go as expected. It was hardly a high-scoring affair, but the defensive dominance we expected to see on both sides never materialized. Instead, both offenses seemed to stall mostly due to self-inflicted wounds. A stupid pick by Josh McCown, a weird fumble by Zac Stacy, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal for the Bucs. It was a comedy of errors at times.
One part of that was the ridiculous amount of injuries for the Bucs. They entered the game already missing five starters, including Michael Johnson and Doug Martin. Then they lost Gerald McCoy in the first quarter and Mason Foster in the second quarter. When you're out seven starters in week two, things are not going to look pretty.
@Bucs_Nation at the game! pic.twitter.com/Gjx9ey46Zu— Paul Wartenberg (@PaulWartenberg) September 14, 2014
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to a great start, marching right down the field and capping off a methodical drive with a five-yard Bobby Rainey run. The highlight was a 24-yard rush by Rainey, who made several guys miss and kept his legs going.
Unfortunately, that euphoria was short-lived: the Rams moved straight down the field themselves, and seemed to dominate the Bucs at the line of scrimmage. With Michael Johnson out and Adrian Clayborn on injured reserve you'd expect some regression, but the Rams just straight up ran the ball down Tampa Bay's throat.
Meanwhile, Gerald McCoy left the game with a hand injury. He'd return halfway through the second quarter, but then would leave the game again -- that time for good.
The Bucs continue to drive down the field and Bobby Rainey continues to look awesome, adding another 19-yard run to his resume. And then, just as the Bucs are about to punch in another touchdown, Josh McCown throws a stupid pick under pressure. It was last week all over again.
At least the Bucs' defense then kept up the pressure, even though Gerald McCoy was out for the game. Da'Quan Bowers actually looked pretty decent as his replacement. After trading a couple of drives, the game was suspended for 52 minutes due to lightning in the area.
They're playing "Purple Rain" at Raymond James Stadium. pic.twitter.com/XbFueuPwl9— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) September 14, 2014
That rain delay didn't help the Bucs much: coming out of the break they immediately gave up a blocked punt. The Rams converted that outstanding field position into
One bright side: at half time the Bucs retired Derrick Brooks' jersey, and inducted him into the Ring of Honor. Hurray for Mr. Derrick Brooks!
This was when the game finally turned around. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers forced a fumble on the Rams' first possession of the half, their first forced turnover of the game. Josh McCown marched that ball down the field with some big help from Bobby Rainey and Vincent Jackson, and ran in his second touchdown of the day to give the Bucs a 14-10 lead.
One Rams field goal later, McCown did the exact same thing (minus the running in the touchdown) to get them to the goal-line. Lovie Smith conservatively settled for the field goal -- which karma then dictated would be blocked after Luke Stocker seemed to blow his assignment. Nothing Patrick Murray could do there, on his first career field goal attempt.
Despite some better play, the Buccaneers still couldn't put away the Rams in the fourth quarter. They allowed Austin Davis to lead the Rams down the field on consecutive drives, giving the Rams a 16-14 lead. And conservative playcalling on their own offensive drive, despite some great play by Bobby Rainey, let them to settle for a field goal. With 17-16 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bucs were only barely in the lead.
And then they let Austin Davis march the Rams calmly down the field, milk the clock all the way down to forty seconds, taking up all the Bucs' timeouts before kicking a field goal. That left Josh McCown in terrible position to win the game on a last-second drive for the second week in a row.
Unsurprisingly, that did not work.
Gerald McCoy injured his left hand in the first quarter. He returned for one play, but was then declared to be out for the game. Da'Quan Bowers and Clinton McDonald replaced him as the team's under tackle, with Akeem Spence coming in at nose tackle in place of McDonald.
Mason Foster injured his shoulder in the second quarter, later returned, and then was also ruled out for the game after aggravating the injury. Dane Fletcher replaced him at middle linebacker.
The Bucs travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons in just four days on Thursday night.
Buccaneers regular season schedule 2014
Week 3: at Atlanta Falcons, Thursday September 18, 8:25 p.m. ET
Week 4: at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday September 28, 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 5: at New Orleans Saints, Sunday October 5, 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 6: Baltimore Ravens, Sunday October 12, 1:00 p.m. ET