Rams-Buccaneers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 19, 2012
While not eliminated from playoff contention, the St. Louis Rams are very close to seeing their postseason hopes end - something that's already happened for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Rams look to get back on track after a damaging loss with their fourth win in five games when they visit the sinking Bucs on Sunday. A three-game win streak bolstered St. Louis' chances to end an eight-year postseason drought, but the Rams couldn't continue their late roll last week, falling 36-22 to Minnesota. With four 8-6 teams also contending for the final NFC playoff berth, the Rams' chances are extremely faint, and St. Louis (6-7-1) may be relegated to trying to finish above .500 for the first time since 2003. "We're going to try to get better these next few weeks," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "Win two games and build on that going into next year." Bradford threw for a career-high 377 yards and three touchdowns last week, and he'll next face a Tampa Bay team allowing a league-worst 310.6 passing yards per game. With another 259 yards through the air, Bradford will surpass his career-best total of 3,512, set in his rookie year of 2010. He also needs one touchdown to establish a career high with 19, which would break the mark set in his first season. Rams running back Steven Jackson, who became the 27th player to run for 10,000 career yards last week, needs 92 to surpass 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season and extend his franchise record. Jackson won't have guard Harvey Dahl to help him to do so, as Dahl tore his left bicep and was expected to undergo surgery. Jackson will also be facing the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, as Tampa Bay is giving up 83.3 yards per game. The Bucs, however, allowed 149 on the ground in a 41-0 loss to New Orleans last week. Josh Freeman continued his difficult December with a season-high four interceptions and a lost fumble. The fourth-year pro has completed 48.3 percent of his passes in the three games this month while posting a passer rating of 60.8. "I've got to do a better job,'' he said. Freeman had a 94.3 rating in the first 11 contests while completing 57.0 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. A four-game win streak Oct. 25-Nov. 18 had Tampa Bay (6-8) looking poised to end a five-year playoff drought, but the ensuing four-game slide resulted in an end to the club's postseason chances last week. "After every game we talk about just sticking together as a team," Freeman said. "I think this is going to be a great time for our team to come together. We had a rough one. We dropped the ball, but now how do we respond to adversity? "... It's times like these when you really forge the nucleus of your team." With 3,471 yards, Freeman needs 122 to set a career high and 341 to surpass Brad Johnson's single-season team record set in 2003. The Buccaneers, though, might be more focused on taking advantage of the Rams' run defense. St. Louis has given up an average of 136.4 rushing yards in the past seven games and allowed league leader Adrian Peterson run for a season-high 212 last week, including an 82-yard touchdown sprint. That could give Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin a good opportunity to get back on track. Martin, fifth in the league with 1,250 yards, was held to a season-low 16 last week. The Bucs have won five of the last six meetings with the Rams. Freeman's 1-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left gave Tampa Bay an 18-17 victory in the most recent one Oct. 24, 2010, at Raymond James Stadium. Jackson ran for 110 yards in that game and has totaled 225 in his last two contests against Tampa Bay. The Bucs have won all four matchups in Tampa since the Rams moved to St. Louis and have a five-game home win streak against the franchise.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Bubba Watson's caddie owns heckler at PGA Championship

NFL denies sending Donald Trump letter about schedule

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker