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Buccaneers versus Rams: The best and worst performers for the Bucs in their loss to St. Louis

The Bucs have fallen to 0-2 to start the 2014 season. Who is to blame, and who can feel good about their performance on Sunday?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 0-2, which has most fans frustrated and crying out for answers as to why a seemingly promising roster is on the verge of being out of contention within the first month of the season, just like last year's team.

But not every player is to blame for Sunday's loss to the St. Louis Rams, and some players are more responsible than others. Let's consider the best and worst for the Bucs on Sunday in this week's "Three Up, Three Down."

Three Up

Demar Dotson

The Buccaneers had success running to the right on Sunday, and that was largely due to the strong play of Dotson. The unheralded right tackle paved the way for some of Bobby Rainey's biggest runs, and was spotless in his pass protection as well.

There is no player who performs better on a weekly basis and earns less praise than Dotson, so consider this a reminder that despite all of the chaos, the Bucs have a solid, dependable right tackle.

Lavonte David

A week after missing some tackles against the Carolina Panthers and generally seeming to be a bit off of his game, Lavonte David tackled well and helped stop several Rams' plays in the backfield on Sunday. David had to assume more of a role in run defense with Gerald McCoy out, as St. Louis was able to get to the second level more often with less resistance in the trenches from the Bucs.

Bobby Rainey

No player surprised me more with the way he played on Sunday than Rainey, who showed that he is the best running back on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at this point in time.

Yes, Doug Martin has more of a "pedigree," but from a physical perspective, Rainey is as good (if not better) than Martin, and it showed against the Rams. Rainey was explosive through the line of scrimmage, hitting the hole and getting to the second level in a hurry. And once he got there, he was equal parts shifty and violent in his quest to get every yard possible.

Doug Martin will eventually return, and will probably be given the starting job again. But he should have the shortest of short leashes, as Rainey proved in Week 2 that he's a legitimate NFL running back, and that last year was not a fluke. He has improved, and he deserves his chance to play.

Three Down

Luke Stocker and Major Wright

Stocker was among those responsible for the blocked field goal which ultimately cost the Buccaneers points that would decide the game, while Wright was on the side of the formation responsible for allowing the blocked punt which killed field position early in the game.

The blocked punt gave the Rams a chance to score without moving the ball at all, as their previous two drives got them nowhere and ended in punts. The blocked field goal took points off of the board for Tampa Bay, and led to a field goal that would swing the game in St. Louis' favor with just a quarter left to play.

Leonard Johnson

The Buccaneers were in a position to shut the Rams down and keep them out of field goal range late in the game, but a pass down the seam to Austin Pettis buzzed over the head of Leonard Johnson, and a field goal came shortly thereafter.

Johnson has become a project for Lovie Smith and his staff as they mold him into a nickel cornerback, but he continues to be bested by wide receivers when he's called into action in coverage. Johnson has been solid in run defense from his slot position, but his coverage continues to be an issue.

Dashon Goldson

Like Johnson, Goldson was caught out in coverage again on Sunday, finding himself unable to stop Jared Cook from picking up a first down on 2nd-and-15 deep in Rams' territory. Along with Mark Barron, the Bucs safeties had a poor day in coverage, and failed to make an impact by taking away the football.

Goldson did pick up a fumble that bounced into his arms, but the safeties have otherwise been quiet, only worth noting when they deliver a hit 10 yards downfield that earns a first down anyways.

With a skeleton crew in the front-seven, the secondary needed to step up for the Bucs on Sunday, but instead, they continued to play an average brand of football that doesn't create the big plays needed to lead a Lovie Smith-coached team to victory.