St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Rams leaned on a pair of rookies to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 23-13, from the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.
Zac Stacy carried the ball a career-high 33 times for 104 yards and a touchdown, while fellow rookie Stedman Bailey added a 27-yard touchdown run for St. Louis (7-8), which has won two straight overall and its last two meetings against Tampa Bay.
Kellen Clemens was efficient with 158 yards on 16-of-20 passing in the win.
Mike Glennon threw for 158 yards on 16-of-26 passing and Vincent Jackson hauled in five passes for 98 yards in the Bucs' (4-11) second straight loss.
Bobby Rainey rushed for 37 yards on 20 carries and had the lone Tampa Bay touchdown.
"Run the football, play good defense and then the other things happen," said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring on its second possession, as Jackson found openings in a soft zone coverage from St. Louis to move the chains. He made two grabs for 52 yards on the drive, including a 30-yard catch on 3rd-and-10 that moved the Bucs inside the Rams' 5-yard line.
Rainey rushed off the right end three plays later for a 1-yard score.
Tampa Bay converted all three third down situations on the 11-play, 85-yard march.
The Rams answered with a methodical 13-play touchdown drive that spanned into the second quarter and culminated when Stacy went up the gut and dove over the goal line for a 1-yard plunge.
St. Louis used a heavy dose of Stacy during the possession, although not for many yards as the rookie toted the rock eight times for 25 yards.
The Rams were aided by a pair of Tampa penalties, a roughing the passer call on Adrian Clayborn along with encroachment on Gerald McCoy, to prolong the sequence.
On the ensuing possession, Rainey coughed up the ball when trying to fight for extra yardage. Alec Ogletree caused the fumble and William Hayes pounced on the loose ball at the Tampa Bay 27.
St. Louis wasted no time in converting the turnover into points, as Bailey rushed the far sideline on a double reverse for a touchdown.
Chris Givens received the first leg of the reverse and pitched it to Bailey, who followed a convoy of blockers down the far sideline before diving into the end zone from four yards out for a 14-7 lead.
Following a Tampa Bay punt, St. Louis put together a string of plays to move the ball inside the Bucs five, but Clemens fumbled the ball on a designed quarterback draw. McCoy jarred the ball loose, and Keith Tandy recovered at the 4-yard line.
Tampa Bay went three-and-out from there and was forced to punt in the shadow of its own goal post.
The sloppy play continued, as Stacy fumbled on the Rams' next play and the Bucs' Lavonte David recovered at midfield.
The Bucs were helped by a pass interference on Janoris Jenkins late in the first half that placed the ball at the Rams' 9-yard line. James Laurinaitis and Robert Quinn followed with successive sacks to force Tampa into a field goal try, in which Rian Lindell split the uprights from 35 yards out as the half came to a close to pull the Bucs within 14-10.
"Offensively we need to play better and execute better," said Glennon. "It came down to execution and we need to do our part, flat out play better."
Tampa Bay converted a 4th-and-1 on its opening drive of the second half and Lindell finished it with a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to one.
St. Louis countered with a 54-yard boot off the foot of Greg Zuerlein for a 17-13 lead.
The Rams tacked on another field goal after Zuerlein knocked down a short 25- yard try to make it a 20-13 game with 11:15 to play in the fourth quarter.
Earlier in the drive, Clemens rushed for a yard up the middle on 4th-and- inches. St. Louis made it to the Bucs six. McCoy came up with a big sack, however, to help stall the march and force the field goal attempt.
The Bucs took over and moved the ball up to midfield before Glennon was sacked and fumbled on 3rd-and-3. Laurinaitis stripped the ball and Hayes was there again for the recovery.
Zuerlein split the uprights for the third time in the contest with a 48-yard kick that made it a two-possession game with 3:15 to play.
The duo of Quinn and Chris Long put the game away with back-to-back late sacks that sealed it for the Rams.
Long rushed the right end on 3rd-and-2 and sacked Glennon for a loss of eight right before the two-minute warning. Quinn then followed out with a sack for a loss of four out of the timeout, and the Rams took over on downs and ran out the clock.