Buccaneers 21

(1-5, 1-3 away)

Rams 28

(4-2, 2-1 home)

9:00 PM ET, October 18, 2004


1 2 3 4 T
TB 7 7 7 021
STL 7 7 7 728

Holt hauls in a pair of scores

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Big plays are what the St. Louis Rams are all about.

Most of the time, those game-turning plays come on offense. On Monday night, the Rams got them from the defense, too, in a 28-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Torry Holt caught two long touchdown passes and Adam Archuleta returned a fumble 93 yards for a score -- one of four takeaways for St. Louis.

"That's something we wanted to establish as a defense," Archuleta said. "We hadn't been getting turnovers through the preseason and the first few games.

St. Louis came into the game with only two takeaways.

One week after a sensational late comeback in a victory over Seattle, the Rams (4-2) moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC West, a half-game in front of the Seahawks.

"It's very big," Archuleta added of moving in front of Seattle. "We had a couple tough losses early in the year where we were kind of struggling to get that momentum."

The Bucs (1-5) got to the St. Louis 15 on the final drive, but Aeneas Williams forced Tim Brown's fumble and Jerametrius Butler recovered.

Holt beat double coverage to haul in a 36-yard pass from Marc Bulger with 10:46 remaining for the winning touchdown. The All-Pro receiver had a 52-yard TD on the first series and finished with six catches for 124 yards.

"We put it together tonight for some big plays," Holt said. "I wish we could wind it back to '99 and make it look easy. But now it's a challenge to us as football players and as a team to get those big plays."

Marshall Faulk had his 100th career rushing touchdown, a 1-yarder in the second quarter that tied it 14-14.

Archuleta made his steal midway in the third quarter, one play after Ian Gold's 31-yard interception return put the Bucs at the St. Louis 15. Michael Pittman ran left to the 7, where he was stripped by the Rams safety, who sped untouched down the left sideline.

Bucs coach Jon Gruden challenged the play to no avail.

"I think everybody in America could see he was down," Gruden said of Pittman.

"It's very frustrating," Pittman said. "I had one of the biggest turnovers and I feel bad about it. I feel like I let my teammates down.

"Turnovers killed us."

A fumble then helped the Bucs. Greg Spires' second sack of the game shook Bulger, who lost the ball at his 20. Anthony McFarland recovered and it led to Will Heller's 1-yard TD catch, tying it 21-21 heading into the fourth quarter.

Brian Griese was sharp and Michael Clayton was sensational on Tampa Bay's first two touchdown drives. Griese completed his first nine passes, including throws of 19 and 9 yards to the rookie on the first scoring drive, which concluded with Mike Alstott's 1-yard power run. The march was set up by Torrie Cox's 59-yard kickoff return.

Early in the second quarter, Clayton beat DeJuan Groce deep for 44 yards, setting up a third-down 5-yard toss to Pittman for a 14-7 lead.

St. Louis' sloppiness was costly when an illegal block penalty negated Shaun McDonald's 82-yard punt return late in the first period. But then the Bucs made a more critical mistake.

On third down from their 7, John Wade's snap never made it to Griese, even though the quarterback was set up behind center, not in the shotgun. Leonard Little dived on the ball for St. Louis at the 5.

It took the Rams four running plays to get into the end zone, with Faulk stretching the ball over the goal line for No. 100, the sixth player to reach that mark.

St. Louis opened the scoring on Bulger's 52-yarder to Holt just 2:20 into the game.

By halftime, Griese was 14-of-19 for 153 yards passing, but the score was 14-14. Tampa's Martin Gramatica missed field goals of 35 and 48 yards, both wide left, the second miss caused partly by a poor snap.

Jeff Wilkins, who sprained his left ankle earlier, was way short on a 56-yard attempt on the final play of the half for the Rams. He also missed wide right from 44 yards with 1:09 remaining in the game.

Griese finished 27-of-40 for 286 yards and Clayton had eight receptions for 142 yards.

"Against a team like this, you can't turn the ball over like that," Griese said. "It felt like we did some good things offensively. Turnovers hurt us."

Game notes

Cox also had a 44-yard kickoff return and finished with 152 yards on four runbacks. ... Tampa's Tim Brown caught a 5-yard pass in the second quarter, extending his streak of games with a catch to 178. That broke a tie for third-longest string he was in with Steve Largent. ... Archuleta's fumble return was the third longest in team history. ... It also was coach Mike Martz's first win in four tries against Tampa Bay -- all Monday night games. ... Bucs DT Damian Gregory tore a left knee tendon and likely is out for the season. TE Dave Moore suffered a concussion and fullback Greg Comella had an unspecified chest injury. WR Charles Lee sprained his right knee, but returned.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 5 plays, 71 yds, 2:07
Drive info: 5 plays, 71 yds, 2:07
tbTD9:20Mike Alstott, 1 yd run
Drive info: 6 plays, 43 yds, 3:13
stlTD1:49Marshall Faulk, 1 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yds, 1:23
Drive info: 6 plays, 43 yds, 3:13
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yds, 1:23
Drive info: 6 plays, 20 yds, 3:27
Drive info: 7 plays, 66 yds, 3:32
Drive info: 6 plays, 20 yds, 3:27
Drive info: 7 plays, 66 yds, 3:32
Drive info: 8 plays, 77 yds, 4:36
Drive info: 8 plays, 77 yds, 4:36