LA-TB grades: Aaron Donald, Rams' D-line continue to impress
Los Angeles Rams 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32
Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Los Angeles Rams’ 37-32 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Quarterback grade: Jameis Winston, 66.8
For two straight weeks, quarterback Jameis Winston has attempted over 50 passes. Part of that is due to being behind late in games; the other part is having a reliable running back that opponents will respect and not daring Winston to win the game through the air. The Rams’ pass-rush had him on edge the majority of the game, as he was hurried 10 times and hit five. On plays where he wasn’t pressured, Winston threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his passes. On the final play of the game, Winston simply seemed to lose awareness of where he was the field and drifted past the line of scrimmage looking for receivers before being brought down from behind, dropping the Bucs’ record to 1-2 on the season.
Top offensive grades:
WR Mike Evans, 82.9
TE Cameron Brate, 80.2
LT Donovan Smith, 78.4
RT Demar Dotson, 77.7
WR Adam Humphries, 74.0
Receivers grade well for Bucs
Wide receiver Mike Evans continues to be Jameis Winston’s favorite target, and will be for the foreseeable future. Evans was targeted 13 times, hauling in 10 for 132 yards. Eight of those receptions came against Rams CB Trumaine Johnson, who had a difficult time dealing with Evans’ unique size and speed after holding him in check early in the game. Evans has already been targeted 37 times through the first three games by QB Winston, but they’ve only managed to connect on 21 of those. TE Cameron Brate had to be a pleasant surprise for the Bucs; he was the offense’s highest-graded run blocker, at 87.2, while also catching five passes and two touchdowns.
Top defensive grades:
LB Lavonte David, 90.2
LB Kwon Alexander, 87.6
DT Gerald McCoy, 80.8
CB Brent Grimes, 77.4
S Chris Conte, 76.8
Linebackers live up to hype
The Bucs’ linebackers have rare athletic abilities, but those traits do not always translate to production. Against the Rams, the pair could not be accused of underperforming, however. Alexander had the momentum-shifting pick-six, one of four incompletions into his coverage. He also managed another pass deflection on his four targets, none of which were caught. Lavonte David was his usual, active self around the line of scrimmage, giving up just three catches for 12 yards with a pass deflection. The Bucs’ weak-side linebacker also managed five stops and an impressive 89.2 run-defense grade. Playing like this, opposing offenses will have trouble topping the Tampa Bay defense with small-ball.
Quarterback grade: Case Keenum, 58.1
Keenum recovers from early error
The perception of a performance can change dramatically on a single play. Case Keenum was largely effective against the Bucs, but threw a dreadful pick-six that tarnished an otherwise solid outing. He stared down his receiver, compounding that mistake by throwing late over the middle. It was the kind of error a rookie might make—only exacerbating the call for Jared Goff. To be fair to Keenum, he shook off that mistake and played well the rest of the way. His two touchdowns were relatively simple throws—a post against no centerfield defender and a corner route with a couple steps separation—but Keenum did enough ensure the win.
Top offensive grades:
RT Rob Havenstein, 80.1
LT Greg Robinson, 76.0
WR Tavon Austin, 74.5
WR Brian Quick, 71.7
RG Jamon Brown, 70.0
Riding the ground game working for Rams
The Rams’ physical style has now helped them to back-to-back wins. Right tackle Rob Havenstein embodies that philosophy; the former Wisconsin Badger looks capable of holding down a starting spot over the long-term. In the backfield, Todd Gurley had a solid performance without ripping off any big gains. He was forced to work for his 85 yards, earning 60 of them after contact. Even backup Benny Cunningham made an impact, bursting through the middle for a first down on 3rd-an- 20. Stopping the Rams’ run game undermines their game plan entirely, but it is easier said than done.
Top defensive grades:
DT Aaron Donald, 84.4
LB Alec Ogletree, 84.3
S T.J. McDonald, 81.7
DT Michael Brockers, 76.5
DE Robert Quinn, 73.3
Defensive line continues to shine
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald had a quieter day by his standards—even then, however, he still graded out as the top defensive player for L.A., and generating two QB hurries, two QB hits, and two batted passes. He finished with a pass-rush grade of 83.6, and gave Tampa Bay’s interior offensive line fits all game. Potentially the biggest play for the Rams’ defense was when DE Robert Quinn beat LT Donovan Smith clean off the edge with speed, then stripped Jameis Winston; Quinn’s execution of the play was a thing of beauty, remindining us why he’s still one of the top pass-rushers in the game.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Buccaneers LB Lavonte David
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