BUCS WRAPUP – LOS ANGELES RAMS – NOVEMBER 25
By Leo Haggerty

LOS ANGELES RAMS

The Rams, making their fifth journey to the Eastern Time Zone, were not phased by the travel as Los Angeles beat the Bucs 27-24 on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium. The cross-country travel had no effect on LA as they moved to 7-3 on the campaign and keep the Blue & Gold tied atop the National Football Conference West Division with the Seattle Seahawks.  TB dropped to 7-4 for the 2020 season and the Buccaneers fell two games behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

Before I recap the tilt, let me give you an idea of the intensity level of the game.  During the tilt, my good friend Gus KattengelI from ESPN Radio New Orleans 100.3, sent me a text during the contest that said, “This feels like a playoff game” and he was so right.  This was playoff football at its finest.

The Rams dented the scoreboard first at 3:55 of the opening period.  On their first possession of the game after a Bucs punt, QB Jared Goff (39-of-51 for 376 yards and three TDs and two INTs) found WR Robert Woods with a 3-yard strike.  That capped a 13 play drive that took 7:52 to go 80 yards.  Former Bucs kicker Matt Gay booted the PAT and Los Angeles went ahead 7-0.

The Pewter Pirates answered that score with one of their own at 14:10 of the second quarter.  QB Tom Brady (26-of-48 for 216 yards with 2 TDs along with 2 INTs) found WR Mike Evans with a 9-yard pass that took 4:45 seconds to go 75 yards in 10 plays.  K Ryan Succop split the uprights to tie the score at 7 apiece.

After forcing the Rams to punt, the Buccaneers took the lead at 8:35 of the second period.  RB Leonard Fournette rambled in from 2 yards out.  That culminated a 68-yard drive that took 3:25 and 10 plays.  Succop again hit the extra point and the Bucs moved to a 14-7 advantage.

On their ensuing possession, the Rams tied the score at the 4:31 mark of the second stanza.  Goff hit WR Van Jefferson with a 7-yard bullet that ended an 8 play drive that traversed 75 yards in 4:04.  Gay was good with the conversion and that tied the score at 14-14 for the second time.

The Blue & Gold took the lead as time expired in the first half.  Gay finished off an 8 play drive that took 60 seconds to go 61 with a 38-yard field.  That gave Los Angeles a 17-14 halftime advantage.

The Bucs tied the score at 12:41 of the third quarter.  After LB Jason Pierre-Paul came up with an interception to give the Pewter Pirates a short field opportunity which was his second in as many games, Succop hit a 38-yard three-pointer.  The drive took 4 plays to go 2 yards and 51 seconds tying the score for the third time at 17-all.

Los Angeles retook the lead at 5:39 of the third quarter.  After S Jordan Fuller’s interception gave the Rams the pigskin deep in Bucs territory, Goff hit RB Cam Akers with a 4-yard pass.  That took 2:03 to cover the 37 yards in 5 plays.  Gay was true with the PAT and LA retook the lead at 24-17.

After numerous changes of possessions, the Bucs defense makes a play.  S Jordan Whitehead picked off Goff near midfield and the Pewter Pirates turned the INT into points at 3:53 of the fourth period.  Brady connected with WR Chris Godwin for a 13-yard catch-and-run that ended a 7 play drive that went 44 yards in 7 plays.  Succop was perfect with the extra point and the tilt was tied for the fourth time at 24-24.

LA struck on its next possession retaking the lead with 2:36 left in the contest. Gay hit a 40 FG that took 1:17 to engineer the 53 yards in 8 plays giving the Rams a 27-24 lead.

TB had a shot to tie or win but that was snuffed out at the 1:56 mark of the fourth quarter with Fuller’s second pick of the game.  The Rams were able to run out the clock and secure a hard-fought victory.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Bucs this weekend with QB Patrick Mahomes leading the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs into Raymond James Stadium for a 4:25 prime time contest.  Look for Rob Kriete’s Buc up column on Saturday for his unique perspective on how the game will materialize.