The Rams went into halftime in good standing with a 14-6 lead. They started the 3rd quarter with an eighty yard touchdown pass to TE Lance Kendricks. Suddenly, the score is 21-6 and for what seems to be the first time this season the Rams have a comfortable lead. The Bucs take over at their own 20 yard line and 3 plays later Bucs QB Freeman is intercepted by Rams safety Trumaine Johnson. 3 minutes later Bradford hits Pettis for a 5 yard TD pass. The Rams are up 28-6 and I don’t know what to do with myself. I guess if we were a good team like the 49ers, or Patriots, or Broncos I’d have sunk deep into my rocker and prepared for a continued butt kicking. But as you know, prior to this year, the Rams have had the worst 5 year stretch in the history of the NFL. So although I enjoyed a few moments of sheer bliss and peace, I knew things couldn’t stay this good.
On the very next drive Bucs QB Freeman tossed a 61 TD pass to WR Williams and my fear immediately returned. The Rams were still up by 15 points, but in my mind I could already see the tower crumbling. The Rams offense totally disappeared at this point. The Bucs rather systematically drove down the field time after time. Here’s where things were different than in past seasons. Critical moments went the Rams way (what?). A tipped pass by DT Michael Brockers led to a Rams interception. The Bucs drove down to the Rams goal line only to be shut down. The Bucs ended 3 potential scoring drives with zero points. I kept waiting for the Bucs to score. Instead, I was treated with Rams stops or Bucs implosions. With 2 minutes remaining the Rams slap a wicked sack on Freeman and the game was pretty much over.
Even though the Ram won the game, by the end a lot of stats were lopsided in favor of the Bucs (heck the Rams offense couldn’t even get a couple of first downs at the end to lock it down). Here are some top level stats:
Fortunately for the Rams we excelled in the 2 most important categories: turnovers and points. Is our defense so good we literally forced the TOs? Or did Freeman and company just have a bad day? It seems a sizable amount of teams have had this dilemma with us (although bad luck was definitely a contributing fact) so I’m going to say our defense has gotten pretty stinking good.
Finally, the Rams benefited from Bucs 4th down play calling. The Bucs went for 1st down 3 times in the second half. Had they kicked field goals instead, the score could have been 28-22 with over 2 minutes remaining in the game. This would have changed the psychology of the game. The Bucs would have kicked off to the Rams who would need a few 1st downs to secure a win. But if you look at the Rams drives in the 4th, you’d know it would have been very possible for us to go 3 and out. The Bucs could have gotten the ball back with 1:30 left and there could have been a different outcome to this game. But (sigh) that’s not what happened. The Rams got a little help here and instead the Bucs went into their last drive down 15 points. The Rams sacked Freeman and that’s all she wrote baby. Now at 7-7-1 I’m feeling good. Go Rams!!!