GAME PREVIEW: ST. LOUIS RAMS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have another chance to make a first impression at home when the St. Louis Rams visit Raymond James Stadium Sunday.
Following the gut-wrenching first 50 minutes of football against the Carolina Panthers on kickoff week down 17-0, the Bucs finally responded with two touchdowns of their own before Carolina scored themselves a 33-yard insurance field goal from kicker Graham Cano with 28 seconds left to close the game. The final was 20-14.
The Bucs face a Rams team who is coming of a 34-6 rout at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings. After already losing starter quarterback Sam Bradford for the season, the Rams turned to Shaun Hill and Austin Davis. With Hill injured during the game, Davis finished with 192 passing yards completing 16 of 23. Rookie Zac Stacy ran for 43 yards on 11 carries.
The Rams provide the perfect opportunity for head coach Lovie Smith to try to establish an offensive identity, which may prove difficult given the uncertain status of new acquisition Logan Mankins and running back Doug Martin. Without a stable running game, quarterback Josh McCown became somewhat unraveled against the vaulted Panthers defense throwing two interceptions in the process.
While McCown did gather enough of his bearings to engineer drives for two scores, a fumble by Bobby Rainey killed what momentum left the Bucs had. Prior to the scoring drives, the Bucs had a combined 150 yards of total offense in seven possessions, but finished with 264 yards.
The final two scoring Bucs drives at least proves McCown is capable, but an established running game whether if it comes from Martin or Rainey will make McCown’s job much easier.
If there was ever a need to make a statement of the capability of the team this season, this game would be it. If the Bucs defense can’t get pressure to the quarterback the way they couldn’t on Panthers backup Derek Anderson, they’ll be in for a long season.