LOS ANGELES-- Just like last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored 28 points in the first half. But unlike last week, the points led to a Buccaneers win, with Tampa Bay beating the Los Angeles Rams 55-40 on Sunday. The 55 points scored set a franchise record.
Quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 385 yards & four touchdowns, while wide receiver Chris Godwin had a career high in both receptions & receiving yards.
Tampa Bay (2-2) received the football first & after the opening kick landed out of bounds for a penalty, the Buccaneers offense took the ball 60 yards on eight plays to scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the second straight game. The drive included a third down conversion when Winston found Godwin for 18 yards. Winston registered 48 passing yards on the drive that ended with running back Peyton Barber pounding off-tackle for a third yard touchdown run.
Neither team was able put points on scoreboard during the rest of the first quarter. But less than two minutes into the second quarter the Buccaneers got the game's first turnover. While being pressured by linebacker Shaq Barrett, Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw a pass high in the air that was intercepted by safety Jordan Whitehead. The interception was the first of Whitehead's career & led to the Buccaneers second touchdown. The offense recorded a seven play 50 yard drive in less than four minutes & ended with Winston threading a pass to Godwin for a three yard touchdown play. Godwin finished the game with 12 catches.
Trailing 14-0, the Rams (3-1) had the ball just three plays before Goff committed his second turnover of the game. This time, while scanning the middle of the field, Goff threw a pass that Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David jumped in front of for the interception. The linebacker returned the ball 28 yards. And one play later, the Buccaneers made it 21-0 when Winston threw a flanker screen to Godwin, who pushed his way into the endzone & running over Rams cornerback Aquib Talib to reach the endzone for his second touchdown reception of the first half.
After consecutive possessions that ended with an interception, Goff finally got the Rams offense going, moving the team 75 yards down the field. Goff found some rhythm, hitting his tight end Gerald Everett for 36 yards on the drive, which ended with running back Todd Gurley taking a handoff & running through the middle of the defense for a 13 yard touchdown run.
Tampa Bay ran just three plays on their next possession & Los Angeles made it two straight drives leading to touchdowns. The second touchdown drive was 50 yards, took less than 90 seconds but saw Goff involving his tight end again. Three plays after Goff hit wide receiver Robert Woods for a 37 yard gain, Everett snatched a five yard touchdown pass from Goff, making the score 21-14.
Following the Rams touchdown, the Buccaneers moved the ball 75 yards in just over two minutes for their fourth touchdown of the half. The drive again was built around Winston hooking up with Godwin, including two third down conversions. Godwin's 172 receiving yards was his second 100 yard game of the season. But Godwin's receiving skils weren't the only skills on display during the drive. Because the drive ended with Ronald Jones II busting through the line, behind a lead block from Godwin, for a five yard touchdown run, the running back's second touchdown of his career.
With less than a minute left in the half & the score 28-14, the Rams got the ball inside the Buccaneers territory & were able to set up a field goal by Greg Zeurlein. And the kicker was able to drill a 58 yard field goal with two seconds left in the half to cut the Rams deficit to 11.
In the first 30 minutes, Tampa Bay recorded 18 first downs, converted five of their seven third down opportunities & a perfect four for four in the redzone. Also in the first half, Winston threw for 203 yards, while Godwin had 9 catches for 125 yards.
The Rams opened the second half with the ball & kept the ball for nearly six minutes leading to another field goal by Zeurlein, this one from 44 yards & getting the Rams within eight points.
Leading 28-20, Tampa Bay put together their own drive that led to three points, with Winston leading the offense to the Rams forty yard line, where after an incomplete pass on third down, Gay came out & boomed his own 58 yard field goal to make the score 31-20. The successful 58 yard kick was a career high for the rookie
After getting the ball back & trailing by 11, Goff got the offense back into the Buccaneers territory. But when facing a fourth & two play, Rams head coach Sean McVay decided to give his offense a chance to extend their drive. That fourth down attempt failed when Goff was pressured & threw a pass that Barrett tipped then intercepted the ball, ending the drive.
Six plays & 53 yards later, Tampa Bay scored their fifth touchdown of the game to start the fourth quarter when Winston found a favorite redzone target, tight end Cam Brate for a 13 yard touchdown play to give the Buccaneers a 38-20 lead.
Down again, this time by 18, the Rams went 75 yards & the drive finished with Gurley get his second touchdown of the game, this one from five yards away. But the home team momentum lasted all of 56 seconds because on the next drive, Winston found Mike Evans, after the wide receiver put a double move on cornerback Marcus Peters. Evans made the catch, eluded Peters then skipped into the endzone for the final three yards of the 67 yard touchdown catch.
The Rams were able to get within five points with some help from the Buccaneers. First, after the touchdown by Evans, the Rams got a big play from one of their own offensive weapons. On a third & 10 play, Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp found some space in the middle of the Buccaneers secondary & finished a 75 yard drive with a 29 yard touchdown catch. Then just three plays after Kupp's touchdown, the Rams created their first turnover of the game when Peters intercepted a floating pass by Winston & returned it 32 yards for the touchdown.
Now with the score 45-40, Tampa Bay bounced back to put together another redzone trip, going 72 yards on 11 plays. The drive included a third down conversion from Winston to Evans & also a 24 yard run by Jones. That run by Jones got the Buccaneers inside the 10 yard line but they were forced to kick another field goal. Gay converted the 21 yard kick to make the score 48-40.
The Rams still had over two minutes to attempt to get a touchdown & attempt a two point conversion to tie the score. But after successfully moving the ball into the Buccaneers territory, facing a 1st down & 20 after an offensive interference penalty, Goff was stripped by Barrett. The ball was picked up by Ndamukong Suh & the defensive lineman, who spent last year with the Rams, rumbled 37 yards into the endzone for the touchdown.
Tampa Bay, which entered the game having been outscored by 29 points in the second half of the first three games this year, scored 24 points in the final quarter.
Tampa Bay will continue their road ways next Sunday when they head to New Orleans to take on the Saints at 1 pm.