This was a close-fought and well-played battle between two up-and-coming teams in which the Rams had control in the first half while the Buccaneers took over in the second half and at the last minute to get an 18-17 victory.
The only unit to have an overall negative ranking was the Rams’ defense, which struggled to stop the run of Cadillac Williams and LeGarrette Blount and was ultimately unable to stop a game-winning touchdown pass to Williams.
Buccaneers: Three performances of note
Quarterback Josh Freeman (+4.1) has had his ups and downs so far this season, but this was one of his finest performances. He was able to master the short passes, completing 19 of his 24 attempts for 148 yards and a touchdown. He struggled under pressure, finding the mark on less than half of his passes with only 5 yards per attempt and three sacks, but the good outweighed the bad. In order for the Buccaneers to continue their success this year, they need more of these games from Freeman.
The Buccaneers have had a poor offensive line all season, and in this game RT Jeremy Trueblood (-3.5) was the worst of them. He was coming off a good game against the Saints where he only allowed one hit, but in this game he allowed one sack, one hit and four pressures. He did salvage the day somewhat with a solid day in run blocking.
One of the stars on defense this week was DRE Stylez White (+4.4), who hadn’t performed up to 2009 standards until Sunday. The Buccaneers were only able to come up with ten combined pressures, and three of them came from White — including the team’s only sack. He and CB Ronde Barber (+4.6) led the charge on run defense.
Rams: Three performances of note
These past few weeks, Adam Goldberg (+0.1) and John Greco (+3.1) have been splitting time at right guard. Although Goldberg had his best game in weeks, this was the first time that Greco got to see more time than Goldberg — and he showed that he should be the starter. Greco had a great game in run blocking and allowed no pressure at all. He is graded as our No. 4 overall guard despite just 153 snaps — he needs to get more playing time.
Fullback Mike Karney (-2.1) only saw 18 snaps with the Rams this week and didn’t perform well for a sixth straight game. The majority of the time he was asked to run block, and he managed a -2.2 score in those run plays. The Rams ran a lot in three-wide sets, and the wide receivers also performed poorly in run blocking. Possibly the best formation they ran out of was with two tight ends; two of the three tight ends had positive run-blocking scores.
Larry Grant (-2.6) has been underachieving all season at weak-side linebacker, and he had another bad game against the Buccaneers. He had a run-defense score in the red for the fifth time in the past six games. He was only thrown at twice, allowing one catch for 5 yards, and had a penalty. The only category where he had a positive rating was pass rush, where he had a pressure on three of his rushes.
Both teams had a number of rookies start or play a large part in the offense. By far the most impressive rookie for the Buccaneers was Blount (+3.8), who ran the ball 11 times for 108 yards. Those stats are impressive in themselves, but what makes them more impressive is that 95 of those yards came after contact — and he forced five missed tackles. The Buccaneers also had rookie WRs Mike Williams (+0.3), Arrelious Benn (-0.1) and LG Ted Larsen (-3.0) start for them on offense, as well as Erik Lorig (+0.1) taking 17 snaps at FB. On defense, DT Gerald McCoy (-0.2) and FS Cody Grimm (+0.2) started but neither had noteworthy efforts. The Buccaneers also used rookies on special teams with Robert Malone (-0.2) punting and Preston Parker (+0.4) returning some kicks.
For the Rams, QB Sam Bradford (+1.6) had an average game, only completing half of his passes for 4.8 yards per attempt. Also starting for the Rams’ offense was WR Danario Alexander (-0.4) and LT Rodger Saffold (-2.0). Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (+1.5) saw his most playing time, scored his first touchdown and played the best of the Rams’ tight ends. On defense, DE George Selvie (-1.3), DT Jermelle Cudjo (-0.9) and CB Jerome Murphy (-1.9) came off the bench to see a good number of snaps, although none of them performed that well.
With only a couple of exceptions, when the Buccaneers were in two-WR sets, Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams were the wide receivers. In three-wide sets, it was Williams, Sammie Stroughtner and Michael Spurlock.