NFL Week 15 Thursday Game Preview: Bucs at Rams

December 16, 2015

Week 15 begins on Thursday night on the NFL Network (8:25 PM ET) with the St. Louis Rams (5-8) hosting rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) at the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis.

In what could be the franchise's last home game in St. Louis should they move to Los Angeles next season, the Rams aim for their second consecutive win following a 21-14 victory over Detroit.

Rams rookie running back Todd 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.

On defense, cornerback Trumaine 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,” said Brockers. “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.

Donald's career-high three sacks, five tackles, and six quarterback hits last week earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.  Donald’s three sacks resulted in a loss of 17 yards. He had four tackles either at or behind the line of scrimmage.

St. Louis punter Johnny Hekker also had a solid game, placing four of his six punts inside the 20-yard line, and averaging 47.3 yards per punt with a net average of 45.5 yards.

Tampa Bay aims to rebound following a 24-17 loss to New Orleans.

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

Tampa Bay's 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,” said 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.



WR Vincent Jackson (knee), DT Akeem Spence (ankle)

LB Bruce Carter (ankle)

DE George Johnson (calf), G Logan Mankins (ankle), DE Jacquies Smith (hamstring)

LB Lavonte David (ankle), DT Gerald McCoy (hand)


T Andrew Donnal (knee), DE Robert Quinn (back)

CB Eric Patterson (ankle)

WR Kenny Britt (shoulder), RB Todd Gurley (not injury related), T Rob Havenstein (calf), CB Janoris Jenkins (concussion)

By Staff of and news services

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