Rams owner Stan Kroenke may not have been in sight during Thursday night’s home season finale between the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers… but the fans surely were. All throughout the course of the evening, chants of “Keep the Rams”, “Aaron Donald”, and “Kroenke Sucks!” rang across the Edward Jones Dome. Kroenke did attend the game but made sure to maintain a low profile.
Meanwhile, on the field, the Rams were looking to go out with a bang in their last home game.
And they sure did.
With yet another dominating performance by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, along with a rejuvenated offense led by rookie Todd Gurley, St. Louis put a huge dent in the playoff hopes of Tampa Bay en route to a 31-23 victory on Thursday Night Football.
For the first time all season, the Rams had a quarterback toss for 200 yards and two touchdowns. In this case (no pun intended), it was backup Case Keenum, once again taking the reigns following another failed stint from Nick Foles.
But it wasn’t just Keenum that propelled St. Louis to a 21-3 halftime lead: it was also the work of their rookie running back Gurley, who became just the third Rams rookie running back (after Jerome Bettis and Eric Dickerson) to rush for 1,000 yards in their first season. Both of the previous two backs made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin also scored two touchdowns on the evening, one through the air and one by the ground attack.
The St. Louis defense held Buccaneers’ rookie quarterback Jameis Winston to a mere 125 yards passing in the first half. However, by the end of the game, he threw for a career high 363 yards, the first time in his young career he’s thrown for 300+ yards. Second year wide receiver Mike Evans caught nine passes for 157 yards, being Winston’s favorite target for the night.
With the victory, the Rams improve to 6-8 while the Buccaneers drop to 6-8, though both are two games behind in the NFC Wild Card playoff race.
Next week, the St. Louis Rams face off against the San Francisco 49ers.
(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)