We’re going to do our best though to narrow it down to five of the most crucial elements of this win. Regardless, the Bucs are 2-2 following their second big showing on the road of 2019. This is how it happened.
If you have it, you love it. If you don’t, you want it. It’s a fast start, and in Week 4 the Buccaneers jumped out to a 21 point lead over the Rams thanks to a first drive touchdown. They then made subsequent end zone visits on two of their next three possessions following their opening score.
Meanwhile, the defense forced two turnovers and a punt from Jared Goff’s offense, setting the stage for a multi-score victory over the defending NFC Champions.
While the fast start was encouraging, everyone watching the game thought back to Week 3 and the failure by Tampa Bay to finish their dominant start against the New York Giants. Similarly, the Rams would come off the ropes and put up 17 points from the midway point of the second quarter to the half, narrowing the 21 point advantage to just eleven heading into halftime.
The most valuable asset in the world is time, and for the second straight week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the second half of their contest with a two score lead. Also for the second straight week, their opponent received the ball to start the third quarter.
Last week, the New York Giants took almost no time off the clock while getting seven points closer to the Bucs. Twelve seconds is all it took for Daniel Jones and Evan Engram to take the ball 75-yards, narrowing Tampa Bay’s 18 point lead to ten following an untimed two-point conversion.
So, coming out of the locker rooms to start the third quarter in Week 4, I think most Bucs fans would share the sentiment of holding their breath a little bit as the Rams started the second half with the ball, down eleven.
Hopefully those fans didn’t hold their collective breaths for the duration of Los Angeles’ first second-half possession, because they likely passed out and missed a pretty exciting second half of football.
It took Goff and the Rams offense a full five minutes and forty-five seconds longer to drive 40-yards and kick a field goal to narrow Tampa Bay’s lead to eight points.
Quite the difference in time from just one week ago, and a much better first drive result to start the second half.
MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
Shaquil Barrett wasted almost no time becoming a favorite among Buccaneers fans. Now the surprise candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Month for September is finding even more ways to impact the game, coming up with his first interception of the year on Sunday.
This is less a singular play, but more of a continued mission Barrett has been on to prove to everyone what he’s known about himself all along: He belongs on the field.
In this game however, the interception came in an eleven point game after the Bucs offense answered Los Angeles’ second-half opening field goal drive with one of their own. The Rams had the ball again, and were once again driving towards Tampa Bay territory looking to add a touchdown to the board on their second drive of the half.
Instead, the ball was plucked out of the air by Barrett. Jameis Winston and his offense took the ball at their own 47-yard line and not only killed the rest of the third quarter game clock with their eleven point lead intact, they turned the drive into an 18-point lead with a touchdown pass to Cameron Brate on the first play of the fourth quarter.
ANSWERING THE BELL
Head coach Bruce Arians has said teams and players learn better by almost losing, not losing. Well, the team certainly learned from losing to the Giants in Week 3, evidenced by the way the Buccaneers continued to swing back at a Rams team trying to fight their way back into this game.
Following the big touchdown coming off of Barrett’s interception, Goff led his offense on an eight play touchdown drive that took less than two and a half minutes off the game clock.
As a Jared Goff doubter, it was pretty impressive if I’m being totally honest. Completing five of his seven pass attempts on the drive, Goff accounted for 60 of the 65-yards covered on the drive. Capped off by a Todd Gurley touchdown run, the game was back to within one score, and once again looked to have the ingredients of yet another Buccaneers let down.
Just like the Rams kept swinging to stay in the fight, the Buccaneers continued to counterpunch and swing big.
Tampa Bay’s offense saw Los Angeles’ 65-yard touchdown drive in under two and a half minutes and countered with a 72-yard haymaker in less than a minute.
Perhaps the only downside to such a big strike and score is the fact it put the Rams offense back on the field with just under twelve minutes left in this back-and-forth game.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
For those not used to seeing the Buccaneers offense stick punch-for-punch with a Super Bowl contender, this game was probably pretty exciting. For those used to seeing the Bucs fall in heavy hitting contests, it was definitely nerve racking.
The Rams are a lot of things, and resilient is certainly one of them, as following Mike Evans’ big touchdown connection (and tribute to Lebron James) with Jameis Winston, Goff hooked up with wide receiver Cooper Kupp on the next drive for a touchdown jab which got the Rams back in the ring with enough time to make a late push for the win.
Then came something Bucs fans are all too familiar with. The pick six. Rams fans will call it the redemption of Marcus Peters and Tampa fans probably looked at it as the moment they would look back on to say, ‘this is when we lost the game’.
A wise Lee Corso once (or more times) said, “Not so fast, my friend.”
Winston and the Bucs offense rebounded from their late game snag and rookie, Matt Gay, came through with a clutch field goal to give Tampa Bay an eight point lead with under three minutes to play.
For Los Angeles, it meant the comeback try was still on. Shaq Barrett had other plans though, and landed the knockout blow with a strip sack of Goff returned 37-yards by Ndamukong Suh for the final score of the game.
It was a new site for Bucs fans, brought to you by two of the newest Bucs on the team.