Tampa Bay (6-7) at St. Louis (5-8), 8:25 p.m. on NFN Network. It’s a short week for Tampa Bay and St. Louis as they meet in the Gateway City to open action in week 15. A pair of top draft picks (Todd Gurley – St. Louis and Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay ) will meet for the first time in their careers.

Here’s a look at the previous 10 matchups between the clubs, including the postseason, six of which have been decided by one score:

DATE – FINAL SCORE (Home team in CAPS)
January 23, 2000 – St. Louis 11, TAMPA BAY 6 ^
December 18, 2000 – TAMPA BAY 38, St. Louis 35
November 26, 2001 – Tampa Bay 24, ST. LOUIS 17
September 23, 2002 – TAMPA BAY 26, St. Louis 14
October 18, 2004 – ST. LOUIS 28, Tampa Bay 21
September 23, 2007 – TAMPA BAY 24, St. Louis 3
October 24, 2010 – TAMPA BAY 18, St. Louis 17
December 23, 2012 – St. Louis 28, TAMPA BAY 13
December 22, 2013 – ST. LOUIS 23, Tampa Bay 13
September 14, 2014 – St. Louis 19, TAMPA BAY 13
^ NFC Championship Game

Tampa Bay trailed the Saints 17-10 at the half in Tampa before New Orleans pulled away to fall 24-17. The Bucs did manage to outrush Drew Brees and the Saints 115-87 but Brees threw for 312 yards and a pair of TDs, while Winston threw for 182 and a TD. In the turnover-free game, New Orleans went 12 of 17 on third down tries and kept the ball for 37:14, while the Bucs held the pigskin for 22:46, going 4 of 11 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

“When you lose, you want to play and get back on the field as soon as possible,” Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith told the Tampa Tribune. “We get our wish with the Thursday night game. The Saints are behind us with the Rams up next.”

Winston passed for 182 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. Winston now has 3,059 passing yards this season, the most by a rookie in franchise history. Buccaneers running back Doug Martin added 86 scrimmage yards (81 rushing, five receiving) and a touchdown against New Orleans.

“The good news is we have a game on Thursday,” says Winston. “We have a quick turnaround. We are absolutely still in the playoff race. That’s how my mind works. I am going to make sure our guys know that as well.”

Entering Thursday’s game, Martin has scored six total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) in his past 10 games. He has also recorded at least 75 scrimmage yards in 10 of his 13 games this season. Martin (1,214 rushing, 199 receiving) currently ranks third in the NFC with 1,413 scrimmage yards.

St. Louis led Detroit (without WR Calvin Johnson) 7-0 at the intermission last Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome and came away 21-14 winners over the Lions. Although the two clubs played even football in the final 30 minutes of play, rookie RB Todd Gurley gave the Rams the lead for good in the third quarter on a 5-yard run with 3:57 left and added a 15-yard run with 12:14 left in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Detroit’s Golden Tate made the contest closer when and Matthew Stafford connected on a 2-yard pass with 2:05 left to play in regulation (Tate had a 9-yard pass in the first half to tie things up). Gurley ran for 140 yards in the contest (St. Louis tallied 203 to Detroit’s 111), while Stafford threw the ball 30 times for 245 yards and an interception with a sack. Detroit went 5 of 13 on third down tries (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:50, while the Rams were 4 of 11 on third down (St. Louis did not have a fourth down try) and possessed the ball for 26:10.

Gurley (Round 1, No. 10 overall) rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. It was Gurley’s fifth game this season with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most such games by a rookie in NFL history.

Gurley ranks fourth in the league and first amongst rookies with 975 rushing yards. He has also rushed for eight touchdowns in his past eight games.

The NFC players with the most scrimmage yards this season:
PLAYER – TEAM (SCRIMMAGE YARDS – SCRIMMAGE YARDS PER GAME; TOTAL TDS)
Adrian Peterson – Minnesota (1,457 – 112.1; 9)
Julio Jones – Atlanta (1,426 – 109.7; 6)
Doug Martin – Tampa Bay (1,413 – 108.7; 6)

On defense, cornerback Trumain Johnson had a 58-yard interception-return touchdown in the second quarter against the Lions. Defensive tackles Aaron Donald (three) and Michael Brockers (one) combined for all four of the Rams sacks.

“It was a total team effort,” Brockers told KMOX-Radio and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “You saw performances from special teams, defense, and the offense today. It just shows how well we prepared we were and we put it all together.”
Donald is second in the NFC with 11 sacks and has led a defensive unit that has recorded 36 sacks this season, the second most in the NFC. Since entering the league in 2014, Donald leads all defensive tackles with 20 sacks.

The defensive tackles with the most sacks since 2014:
PLAYER – TEAM, SACKS
Aaron Donald – St. Louis, 20
Gerald McCoy – Tampa Bay, 15.5
Kawann Short – Carolina, 12.5
Ndamukong Suh – Detroit and Miami, 12.5
Marcell Dareus – Buffalo, 12

Including contests that were played in Los Angeles, the Rams lead the series 12-8, have outscored the Buccaneers 462-396 and have won the last three contests, including a 19-17 win in the Sunshine State last year (Tampa Bay’s last victory over the Rams came in 2010, also in the Sunshine State by an 18-17 final).

They met in week two at Tampa Bay and St. Louis led 10-3 at the half, taking the lead for keeps when K Greg Zuerlein connected on a 38 yard field goal with 38 seconds left after they had trailed 17-16. Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey ran for 144 of his team’s 157 yards, outrushing the Rams, who had 119, while Austin Davis outpaced Josh McCown passing-wise 235-179. Tampa Bay was 4 of 8 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:55, while the Rams were 5 of 11 on third down (neither team had a fourth down try) and held the ball for 32:05.

St. Louis won by 2 in the week two contest in the Sunshine State (Tampa Bay was favored by 5 1/2) and both clubs barely missed the 37 1/2 over/under with 36 points. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Rams as a 1 point favorite with a 42 over/under. You might want to tape “Big Bang Theory” this week. Tampa Bay’s looking to make to the post-season party, while St. Louis would like nothing more than to knock the Bucs out. St. Louis covers the 1 and wins in the Show-Me-State.

Injury Report

Tampa Bay
OUT: WR Vincent Jackson (Knee), DT Akeem Spence (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB Bruce Carter (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Logan Mankins (Ankle), DE George Johnson (Calf), DE Jacquies Smith (Hamstring)
PROBABLE: LB Lavonte David (Ankle), DT Gerald McCoy (Hand)

St. Louis
OUT: T Andrew Donnal (Knee), DE Robert Quinn (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Eric Patterson (Ankle)
PROBABLE: WR Kenny Britt (Shoulder), RB Todd Gurley (Not Injury Related), T Robert Havenstein (Calf), CB Janoris Jenkins (Concussion)

BROADCAST INFORMATION – 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter). Westwood One: Bob Wischusen, Tony Boselli. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Tampa Bay), 93 (St. Louis). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Tampa Bay), 226 (St. Louis).

Weather Outlook: Game indoors.

Broadcast information and injury report courtesy the National Football League; odds courtesy Don Best and USA Today, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

 

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