The NFC teams with the longest playoff droughts have ensured
that their runs of futility will extend for another season.
There are some signs of improvement, however, for the St. Louis
Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in recent weeks heading into Sunday’s
matchup at the Edward Jones Dome.
St. Louis (6-8) hasn’t been to the postseason since the 2004
campaign while Tampa Bay’s last playoff appearance came after the
Optimism for the future is possible since the Rams have won
three of their last five games while the Buccaneers have won four
of six since an 0-8 start.
Neither team is using the quarterback it began the season with
since Sam Bradford is out after season-ending knee surgery and Josh
Freeman was cut by Tampa Bay (4-10) on Oct. 3.
Those two were under center in Week 16 last season in St. Louis’
28-13 road win. Freeman was sacked five times and threw four
interceptions, with Janoris Jenkins running one back 41 yards for a
Tampa Bay will visit St. Louis for the first time since 2004,
with Mike Glennon looking to bounce back after an uneven
performance. Glennon was sacked four times and finished 18 of 34
with two touchdowns and an interception in last Sunday’s 33-14 home
loss to San Francisco.
The Buccaneers had a season-low 183 yards. They are last in
total offense with 305.9 yards per game and have converted on a
league-worst 32.0 percent of third downs.
Tampa Bay has gone 1 for 10 on third down in its last two
“I think the biggest problem is first and second down and
getting into those third-and-longs,” Glennon said. “In the NFL when
you get in third-and-long situations, it’s almost impossible to get
that first down.”
Glennon has been sacked 14 times in the last four games. He will
have to be wary of Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who leads the
NFC with 15 sacks and has forced a league-best seven fumbles.
“He’s as good at tomahawk chopping the backside of the
quarterback, you haven’t seen a guy do it with that effectiveness
since LT (Hall of Fame New York Giants linebacker Lawrence
Taylor),” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “LT used to – wap – knock
that ball out with a vicious tomahawk chop. He’s bringing it that
The Rams tied for the league lead with 52 sacks a year ago and
have 42 to tie for fifth this season.
Quinn dropped Drew Brees twice in last week’s 27-16 victory over
New Orleans. The Rams held the high-powered Saints out of the end
zone until the fourth quarter.
”There’s a lot of character,” said Quinn, who will likely
match up with Bucs tackle Donald Penn, who is tied for second in
the NFL with 9 1/2 sacks allowed. ”We don’t have much to play for
except for the fun of it and guys aren’t giving up or hanging their
Rookie Zac Stacy rushed for 133 yards on 28 carries with a
touchdown and Kellen Clemens threw two touchdowns for the Rams, who
are seeking to win five games at home for the first time in three
Stacy leads all rookies with 854 rushing yards and his six
touchdowns on the ground have come in the last six games.
”He never takes negative runs,” Clemens said. ”If it’s there,
he hits it. If it’s not there, he creates a hole.”
Fellow rookie Tavon Austin’s status is uncertain after he did
not practice Wednesday. There was good news for the receiver since
he is no longer in a walking boot.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher expects a difficult test from the
“They were close in some games despite the fact that they lost
eight straight, then you come back and they win four out of their
last six and beat some good football teams,” he said. “They hung in
“Their defense is playing with discipline. They’re getting a lot
of turnovers. They run the football and the quarterback’s throwing
the ball well, so it’s a talented team. It’s a very dangerous team
at the end of the season.”