With 5:42 remaining in the 3rd quarter Keenum handed off to Austin who took the ball 21 yards for a touch down. Zuerlein kicked the point after and the score was Rams 28, Bucs 6. At that moment I did something I haven’t done in a long time while watching a Rams game. I smiled… and I relaxed. We were in control and as long as we didn’t totally fall apart… everything would be fine. Then Bucs QB Winston hits Stocker for a 3 yard TD pass. No, problem. Its reasonable the Bucs would get a single touch down. I’m still relaxed (but not really b/c I’ve seen this one go sideways many times in recent years). A couple field goals later and the Rams still have a 15 point lead (but why do I have this sinking feeling in my gut?). With just over 7 minutes to go the lead still holds. The problem is that the momentum had clearly shifted to the Bucs. The once nearly unhinged Winston was on the war path. Around mid field the Bucs offense moved with ease. The Rams defense held up in the red zone over and over, but its’ tough to keep the faith when the Bucs are eating up so much yardage.
With 5:08 left in the game the Bucs were challenging again. Winston throws to the right and then it happened. Rams CB Johnson stepped in and picked that baby off. There was still a lot of time left and I knew the Bucs would make another run at it, but I thought “this was enough”. This will break their backs. And it did. The Bucs earned over 500 yards on the night and got within 8 points of us, but in the end they came up short. An onside kick landed squarely in the hands of Rams special teams (Bryce Hagar to be exact) and the game was over (Bucs 23, Rams 31). It wasn’t pretty, but it was a beautiful.
It’s a little too late to make a difference in our overall season, but I’ll take it. The Rams improve to 6-8 and keep our hope of reaching .500 alive. It was a good night Rams fans.
Happy Holidays and have a great week!