Every once in a while it feels good to come home. This rings true in times of despair, and the Buccaneers needed a pick-me-up following their blowout loss at Arizona last week. While attendance was somewhat sparse initially, Raymond James Stadium was the place to be as the Los Angeles Rams came into Tampa looking to finally score a touchdown for the 2016 season. It was a mixture of good offensive plays, a comedy of errors, and Mother Nature as the Rams (2-1) edged out Tampa Bay (1-2) in a last second defensive stand, 37-32 following an hour-long lightning delay with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. So close to the win, but still so far to go, in more ways than one.
Jameis Winston played similar to the season opening win at Atlanta, going 36 of 58, 405 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Once again, Mike Evans was the main target, hauling in 132 yards receiving and once score (lead all receivers). Slot man Adam Humphries had 100 yards of his own, and TE Cameron Brate had the other two scores from the air. On defense, linebacker Kwon Alexander made his presence felt getting a pick six that put the Bucs on the board after falling 7-0 early on. Strong play by both Alexander and Lavonte David kept Tampa Bay in the game.
However, there are still the comedy of errors that was mentioned earlier. The defensive backfield still is an anomaly, with the Bucs giving up big plays to Brian Quick (53 yards receiving, 1 TD) and Tavon Austin (82 yards, 1 TD). Second year back Todd Gurley found his groove on the ground, tallying 85 yards and two goal-lin touchdowns. Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo fell into preseason habits, missing his only field goal attempt and missing one of the extra points. This would contribute to the two failed two point conversions late in the game. Oh, and then there was the 77 yard fumble recovery by Rams end Ethan Westbrooks. Former Buccaneers linebacker Mark Barron had the lone interception for Los Angeles.
Up next for the Bucs is a home showdown against defending Super Bowl champion Denver (3-0), while the Rams visit the Arizona Cardinals (1-2). It will be a tall order for Pewter Nation as the Broncos boast on the premiere defenses in the league. While the penalties were minimal, the mistakes need to be cut. Both the offense and defense need to be in sync for Denver, otherwise it could be another long day in Tampa Bay.
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