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Monday Night Miracle

Posted Dec 19, 2000

Even the amazing run of Monday Night Football nail-biters this season couldn’t have prepared a nation of fans for Tampa Bay’s incomprehensible 38-35 victory

RB Warrick Dunn tied a team-record with three rushing touchdowns, the last the game-winner with 48 seconds remaining

Put this game directly at the top of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ list of greatest games ever.

Warrick Dunn, who has burst onto the NFL scene as a crunch-time miracle worker, spun his magic once again shortly before the clock struck midnight on Monday, teaming up with Shaun King for the key play in a relentlessly thrilling 38-35 Tampa Bay win over St. Louis.

With the win, the Buccaneers have clinched a playoff spot for the third time in the last four years and kept alive their dream of a second straight NFC Central Division title.

Here was Dunn’s latest piece of magic:

With less than two minutes remaining in the game and the Bucs trailing by four and trying to drive from their own 20, Dunn took a short screen pass from King but found DE Kevin Carter immediately in his face.

Bringing back memories of last week’s amazing escape of a sure safety, Dunn spun partially away from Carter but couldn’t unlock the Ram’s grasp on his jersey. Before Carter could swing him to the ground, Dunn pitched the ball back to King, who alertly ran around the right end all the way to midfield. A late hit penalty on the Rams’ Michael Jones tacked on 15 yards.

There would be other heroes before it was all over. The Bucs still needed to punch it in, and they did so thanks in part to WR Reidel Anthony’s acrobatic, spinning 22-yard catch down to the one. Two plays later, Dunn swept left, cut up towards the goal line and dove over the top to just cross the line.

The game was still not sealed until S John Lynch intercepted Warner two plays later at midfield.

The game was billed as a Clash of Styles, and it was a partial victory for both teams. St. Louis managed to impose its manner of play, as the 73 combined points was the most in a Buccaneer game since October 29, 1989 (Cincinnati 56, Tampa Bay 23). However, the Bucs then beat the Rams at their own game, out-gaining St. Louis in many key categories.

The Bucs gained a season-high 446 total yards of offense while St. Louis racked up 388. Dunn, who tied a team-record with three rushing touchdowns, gained 145 yards on the ground to lead his team to 205 rushing yards, while the Rams netted just 90. The Bucs also won the turnover battle, 3-2, meaning they remain undefeated this season when they have an equal or positive mark in that category, and winless win they turn the ball over more than their opponents.

Even though the offenses owned the game, Tampa Bay’s defense set the early tone with a turnover on the third play from scrimmage. CB Ronde Barber intercepted QB Kurt Warner’s second pass of the game, setting up a 35-yard Martin Gramatica field goal. It was reminiscent of last January’s NFC Championship Game between these two teams, when DE Steve White intercepted Warner on the first play of the game to precede a Buccaneer field goal.

However, while that game remained a defensive struggle throughout, with St. Louis pulling out a last-minute 11-6 victory, Monday’s game exploded into a game of offensive oneupsmanship. It was fitting, perhaps, that Gramatica’s field goal ended up being the final margin of victory.

Tampa Bay’s stunning game-winning drive followed a big play from the Rams that brought near silence to a previously raucous and jam-packed Raymond James Stadium crowd. Trailing 31-28 with five minutes to go, Warner threw a deep slant to WR Torry Holt, who broke a tackle and managed to outrun the Bucs’ defense for a 72-yard touchdown.

That marked the sixth but not quite final time that the lead changed hands. That trend began very early.

Shortly after Gramatica’s kick, St. Louis started a string of four consecutive touchdown drives, two by each team. The Rams took the lead with a 76-yard drive ending in RB Marshall Faulk’s two-yard touchdown run. St. Louis never faced a third down on the drive.

The Bucs answered right back, with their own speedy back, Warrick Dunn finishing an 82-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. WR Keyshawn Johnson picked up most of the yardage on the drive with catches of 32 and 23 yards and, like the Rams, the Bucs never faced a third down on the march.

St. Louis came right back with a 72-yard scoring drive, this one also ending in a Faulk touchdown run. Warner’s 29-yard pass to WR Ricky Proehl, the Buc-killer from last January’s game, and Faulk converted a fourth-and-one with a two-yard run from the Bucs’ 18. On the next snap, Faulk found a big hole in the same spot and trotted 16 yards for a touchdown.

Then came a turning point for the Buccaneers, who answered with not one but two touchdowns. On its next possession, Tampa Bay moved methodically downfield for a 69-yard touchdown drive, this one completed through the air when QB Shaun King sidestepped blitzing LB London Fletcher and threw over the middle to a wide-open Johnson.

The Rams were then forced into one of the evening’s few three-and-outs when DT Warren Sapp laid Warner out with a thunderous tackle for a 13-yard sack. Sapp had both of the Bucs’ sacks on the evening, extending his own team record to 15.5. He now stands third in the NFL in that category.

Getting the ball back at their own 42, the Bucs drove 58 yards in six plays, with Dunn turning a screen pass into a 23-yard gain with more nifty moves. King threw to Johnson to finish this drive, too, lofting a touch pass over the defender for a 17-yard touchdown just before he was flattened by a blitzing London Fletcher.

The Bucs maintained their 10-point lead in the third quarter, setting up the fourth-quarter fireworks. St. Louis scored on a 63-yard drive when Faulk caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Warner as a Buccaneer blitz backfired.

The Bucs had just one play to answer before the third quarter ended, but they did so when Dunn took a pitch to the right, danced around tacklers on the sideline and broke free for a 52-yard scoring run.

Faulk scored his fourth touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter on a nine-yard run, becoming the first player in NFL history to have three four-touchdown games in the same season.

Johnson led the Bucs’ receivers with 116 yards on seven receptions, his second 100-yard game as a Buc. Dunn added five receptions for 53 yards. King completed 18 of 38 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

LB Derrick Brooks, at his best in such wide-open games, led Tampa Bay with eight tackles and a pass defensed. Lynch added seven tackles, including one memorable hit on Faulk that lifted the elusive running back off his feet.

Tampa Bay goes to 10-5 with the victory, marking the first time in team history that the Bucs have hit double digit wins in consecutive seasons.

Buccaneers.com provided quarterly highlights of the action during the game, including a detailed play-by-play. Those reports follow to offer a closer look at the amazing turn of events on Monday night.

First Quarter

Tampa Bay struck first with a quick turnover, then followed with a long touchdown drive to counteract the Rams’ effective offense. Each team’s running back wearing jersey #28 scored on a two-yard touchdown run, but the Bucs finished the quarter with a 10-7 lead.

St. Louis’ First Drive

After losing the coin toss, Tampa Bay came on to begin the game with a kickoff, and Martin Gramatica hit his first kick on one hop into the right corner of the end zone, and the Rams settled for a touchback.

Thus beginning at its own 20, St. Louis handed off to RB Marshall Faulk, who got just two yards off left guard before he was dropped by DT Anthony McFarland. On second down, QB Kurt Warner put his backs into motion, took a quick drop and just got off an errant pass before he was dropped by DT Warren Sapp.

That’s when it went from good to great for the Buccaneers. Warner tried to hit Faulk over the middle but CB Ronde Barber stepped in front of Faulk, intercepted the pass and took it back to the St. Louis 20.

Tampa Bay’s First Drive

On first down, FB Mike Alstott lined up shallow and alone in the backfield, and took a quick handoff up the middle for three yards. QB Shaun King then tried to toss a fade pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson on the left edge of the end zone, but Johnson couldn’t quite get his second foot down. King dropped back to pass again on third down but, as he attempted to pump fake, had the ball slip out of his hands for another incompletion.

K Martin Gramatica then converted the drive into three points with a 35-yard field goal. Tampa Bay 3, St. Louis 0.

St. Louis’ Second Drive

A short Gramatica kickoff was taken at the Rams’ 16 by upback Sean Moran, and the defensive end rambled all the way to the 33.

On first down, Warner pitched to Faulk around the left end, but DE Marcus Jones tripped him up after a gain of just one. Faulk took a delayed handoff up the middle on second down, picking up four more yards. On third-and-five, Warner set up with five wide receivers and overthrew WR Az Hakim, who was cutting over the middle but had pressure from McFarland.

John Baker came on to punt and hit a short kick that the Rams touched down at the Bucs’ 32.

Tampa Bay’s Second Drive

The Bucs’ second drive didn’t last long. QB Shaun King tried to throw a deep pass down the left sideline to WR Jacquez Green, but CB Dexter McCleon had blanket coverage and ended up with an interception at the Rams’ 26.

St. Louis’ Third Drive

Warner tried a quick pass to WR Torry Holt along the line of scrimmage to the right, but DE Chidi Ahanotu grabbed Holt after just two yards. Warner then faked a handoff to Faulk and, with tons of time in the pocket, was able to hit Isaac Bruce downfield for a 17-yard gain and the game’s initial first down.

Warner had decent time on the next drop as well, but the coverage was tight enough to allow DT Warren Sapp time to sack Warner for a five-yard loss. However, Warner stepped up in the pocket on second down and fired deep over the middle between two Buc defenders, finding Holt for a 22-yard gain.

Now at the Bucs’ 40, Warner dropped back to pass again and was nearly sacked by a blitzing Shelton Quarles. Warner still got a laser of a pass off, but LB Derrick Brooks knocked the pass away from TE Roland Williams and nearly intercepted the deflection.

A screen pass to Faulk on second down worked marvelously for St. Louis, as Faulk sliced downfield for a gain of 17 yards, after which five yards was tacked on due to a facemask penalty.

That gave St. Louis a first down at the Bucs’ 18, and Warner then called a timeout.

After the break, Warner threw a quick slant to Bruce that was good for 12 yards and another first down. Faulk then burst up a good-sized hole in the middle for four yards before S John Lynch dragged him down at the two. Faulk then tried to go around the right end, instead cutting up a gap by right tackle for a two-yard touchdown. St. Louis 7, Tampa Bay 3.

Tampa Bay’s Third Drive

Due to a penalty on WR Karl Williams’ kickoff return, the Bucs got going at their own 18 after the Rams’ touchdown.

RB Warrick Dunn got his first carry to start the next drive and was able to dance out of early trouble to pick up nine yards up the middle. Alstott then came on to move the sticks, bashing up the middle for three yards to the 30.

Dunn got the next first down carry as well and picked up four yards up the middle, but he was stopped by quick Ram penetration for a loss of four. Thus in a third-and-ten, King took the snap and rolled right, then threw back across the field to Johnson, who dove for a 32-yard gain near the left sideline.

With a first down at the St. Louis 38, Dunn got another handoff and picked up two yards up the middle. On second-and-eight, the Rams came with a safety blitz, but Tampa Bay had the right call on and Johnson took a quick slant up the middle of the field for another 23 yards to the 13.

King then tossed a precision screen pass to Dunn on the right side, and the running back picked the right seam to get 11 yards, bashing for the last two without his helmet, which came flying off.

After that effort, it was only right that Dunn got the score, lining up behind Alstott and bouncing his next carry around the left side for a two-yard touchdown that put the Bucs back on top. Tampa Bay 10, St. Louis 3.

St. Louis’ Fourth Drive

WR Darrius Blevins took Gramatica’s next kickoff on the run at the Rams’ 10, but LB Don Davis was able to trip him up at the 28.

Faulk took the opening handoff to the left side and tried to string out the defense, looking for a hole, but LB Nate Webster contained him for just two yards. The first quarter then came to an end.

Second Quarter

Tampa Bay took a page from St. Louis’ playbook, scoring on three consecutive possessions, including two in the second quarter. Both of those second-quarter scores were receptions by WR Keyshawn Johnson, helping the Bucs take a 24-14 halftime lead.

St. Louis’ First Drive

The Rams started the second period with a second-and-eight at their own 30, and Az Hakim’s drop of a perfect pass on the next play made it third-and-eight. However, another precision pass by QB Kurt Warner deep over the middle converted the first down, as WR Ricky Proehl caught a 29-yard toss before he was hit by S John Lynch.

Warner then zipped a quick slant to WR Torry Holt, who picked up 14 yards and another first down at the Bucs’ 27. RB Marshall Faulk then tried the middle but was stopped after a three-yard gain by DT Warren Sapp. Faulk got the carry on second down as well, but CB Ronde Barber met him immediately for a loss of one.

On third-and-eight, Warner withstood serious Buccaneer pressure and found WR Isaac Bruce on the right side. CB Donnie Abraham was able to drag Bruce down just inches short of the first down, but the Rams chose to go for it. Faulk was able to pound it up the middle for the necessary yardage.

On the next snap, Faulk found a huge hole in the same spot and darted untouched for a 16-yard score. St. Louis 14, Tampa Bay 10.

Tampa Bay’s First Drive

On the ensuing kickoff, WR Karl Williams got the Bucs out to their own 31 with a 23-yard return.

RB Warrick Dunn darted off right guard on first down to start the drive with a two-yard run. King dropped back to pass on second down but quickly took off out of the pocket, making it around the right end for a gain of 19 yards into St. Louis territory.

With the middle clogged on his next run, Dunn darted to the right and just got around the right end for a gain of three. Dunn danced around in the middle on the next carry but got just two yards to set up a very long third-and-one. Alstott came into the backfield on the next play, but King rolled right and threw a quick strike to WR Keyshawn Johnson for six yards and a first down at the Rams’ 33.

King called an audible on first down and made a good call, but his deep pass over the middle to TE Patrick Hape was just out of the tight end’s reach. King then stood in the pocket for what seemed like an eternity on second down, eventually throwing over the middle to Dunn for a gain of five. On third-and-five, King threw an out to Green that just got over CB Dexter McCleon’s fingertips. Green made an acrobatic catch to get both toes down, but the Rams chose to challenge the play.

After review, the play stood, giving Tampa Bay a first down just inches from the Rams’ 20. Dunn got a handoff up the middle on first down but the area was clogged and he picked up just one yard. On second down, King rolled right just a few steps and fired a quick pass into the hands of TE Dave Moore, who was knocked down at the nine.

A handoff to Dunn behind left guard was good for one yard to the eight, but the Bucs scored on the next play. The Rams nearly blew up the play with a blitz up the middle, but King quickly sidestepped LB London Fletcher, buying time to hit a wide-open Johnson in the middle of the end zone for the go-ahead score. Tampa Bay 17, St. Louis 14.

St. Louis’ Second Drive

WR Darrius Blevins’ fine 26-yard return allowed St. Louis to start off at its own 32 with just under four minutes remaining.

Warner tried to find Bruce 20 yards downfield on first down, but a hit by Warren Sapp disrupted the pass into an incompletion. Warner’s attempted shovel pass on second down didn’t work any better, setting up third-and-ten. That play was even less successful for the Rams, as Sapp waded threw the St. Louis protection and sacked Warner for a loss of 13.

The Rams were forced to punt from their own 19, and a 45-yard John Baker kick followed by a six-yard Karl Williams return gave the Bucs possession at their own 36 with 2:49 remaining.

Tampa Bay’s Second Drive

King dropped back to pass on first down, but when his initial target was well-covered, he scrambled straight up the middle for four yards. King then tossed a screen pass to Dunn that appeared doomed, but Dunn darted one way and then the other to get around the Rams defender, finding an open sideline for an eight-yard gain to the Rams’ 46. Dunn also sidestepped a Keith Miller tackle at the end of the carry in order to get enough for the first down.

After the two-minute warning, King tried to throw deep over the middle to Johnson, but instant St. Louis pressure caused King to get rid of it quickly and it was well overthrown. On second down, the Rams blitzed again and the Bucs again had the perfect call, throwing another screen to Dunn that picked up 23 yards to the Rams’ 23.

King went up the middle on a designed draw on first down, picking up six yards before sliding to a stop and calling a timeout with 1:06 left in the half. After the break, the Bucs scored again.

The Rams called another blitz, this one coming from King’s backside, but the Buc QB got off a perfect touch pass to Johnson and Johnson hauled it in just as he stepped into the end zone. Tampa Bay 24, St. Louis 14.

St. Louis’ Third Drive

After Blevins got his next return back to the Rams’ 31, Warner set up a screen to Faulk on first down, but CB Ronde Barber came up to make a nice leg tackle and hold Faulk to no yards. A quick pass to Torry Holt on the other side picked up just one yard as Kelly made a similar fast stop. The Rams then allowed the clock to run down to zero, ending the first half.

Third Quarter

The third quarter was dead even, although Tampa Bay needed a last-second miracle by RB Warrick Dunn to keep its lead at 10 points. Each team scored one touchdown and Tampa Bay took a 31-21 lead into the final period.

Tampa Bay’s First Drive

A fine, 24-yard kickoff return by WR Karl Williams gave the Bucs a second-half start of their own 33-yard line, and RB Warrick Dunn immediately picked up a first down with a 12-yard run off right tackle.

Dunn went in the same direction on the next snap, following a Mike Alstott block, but was stopped after just one yard this time. Dunn tried the middle on the next snap and used a last-second spin move to turn a short gain into four yards. On third-and-five from midfield, King dropped back to pass and, after stepping up into the pocket, saw room to run. He was right, picking up nine yards and a first down at the Rams’ 41.

Alstott lined up behind FB Charles Kirby on the next first down but was stopped immediately by S Devin Bush for a loss of four. Dunn tried to regain it on a sweep around left end but was stopped by Kevin Carter for no gain. The Rams came with a safety blitz once again, and this time it worked as Bush sacked King for a nine-yard loss.

Mark Royals then lifted a short punt that gave dangerous return man Az Hakim room to run, but S Eric Vance made a hard tackle to stop Hakim at the Rams’ 26.

St. Louis’ First Drive

The Rams gave it to RB Marshall Faulk on first down, and he drove up the middle for three yards before DT Warren Sapp’s tackle. Faulk burst through the line for a 12-yard gain, although S John Lynch added a little Buccaneer emphasis on the end with a shoulder tackle so punishing it lifted Faulk off his feet.

QB Kurt Warner then tried to go deep, but S Damien Robinson played center field well and was able to breakup the post pass to WR Isaac Bruce. The Bucs came with a corner blitz on second down, which allowed Faulk to get around the right corner for a seven-yard gain. On third-and-three, Warner stood up to Sapp’s pressure and threw an out to Hakim on the right side. Hakim dove past the sticks for a first down at the Bucs’ 48.

Faulk got the call again on first down, but his attempted sweep to the left side was stopped for a loss of two when DE Marcus Jones tripped him up. Tampa Bay’s defense then really turned the tide with its second turnover of the game.

Blitzing LB Jamie Duncan hit Warner as he threw, causing an errant pass that S Damien Robinson dove to intercept at the Bucs’ 32. It was Robinson’s sixth interception of the season.

Tampa Bay’s Second Drive

The Bucs’ ensuing drive appeared to get a good start but then went backward. Dunn squirted around right end on first down, but a first-down run was brought back by a holding call on T Jerry Wunsch. Dunn then got five yards up the middle, but that gain was erased by a false-start penalty. King tried to go up the right sideline to WR Reidel Anthony on second down, but the pass fell incomplete. The Bucs then played it safe on third-and-20, giving it to Dunn on a delayed handoff. He picked up just three and the Bucs had to punt.

Royals kick went just 38 yards but was extremely high, and Hakim called for a fair-catch at the St. Louis 37, bobbling and nearly fumbling the ball.

St. Louis’ Second Drive

The Rams got moving in the right direction on first down, as a well-designed screen to Faulk picked up nine yards before LB Shelton Quarles dragged him down from behind. Faulk then burst through left guard on the next carry to pick up eight yards and a first down at the Bucs' 46.

After a false start on T Ryan Tucker, Warner threw a quick slant to WR Torry Holt that picked up all but three of the needed 15 yards. An end-around to Bruce also worked on the next snap, as Bruce picked up 11 more yards to the Bucs’ 28.

Faulk got the next carry up the middle and was upended by Lynch again, leading to a gain of just one. Warner scrambled to buy time on second down and then threw a floater downfield to TE Ernie Conwell that CB Donnie Abraham leapt to knock away. On third-and-nine, the Bucs came with an all-out blitz and Warner capitalized, throwing over the top to Faulk for a 27-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay 24, St. Louis 21.

Tampa Bay’s Second Drive

WR Karl Williams helped regain momentum for Tampa Bay by taking the ensuing kickoff back 41 yards almost to midfield.

Opening at their own 48, the Bucs appeared to have time for just one play on the clock before the quarter was too expire. As it turned out, that was enough.

King stepped back quickly and threw a backwards pass to Dunn, who got around right end for what appeared to be a nice eight or nine-yard gain. However, a nifty move by Dunn right along the sideline allowed him to break free and take it the distance for a 52-yard touchdown run. Tampa Bay 31, St. Louis 21.

The quarter ended on Martin Gramatica’s extra point.

Fourth Quarter

St. Louis’ First Drive

St. Louis countered the Bucs’ third-quarter touchdown by driving right down the field for a score.

Starting off at their own 27, the Rams got 20 quick yards when QB Kurt Warner hit a falling Torry Holt for 20 yards over the middle. LB Derrick Brooks caught RB Marshall Faulk for a loss of two on the next snap, but Warner countered with a screen to WR Torry Holt that picked up eight yards.

On third-and-five, Warner found WR Ricky Proehl deep over the middle for 21 yards to the Bucs’ 26. Brooks had tight coverage on Holt’s quick slant on the next play, but Holt caught the pass for a gain of 14 to the Bucs’ 12.

After Faulk’s run off left tackle got just three yards, he scored on the next play, breaking one tackle going around right end and stepping into the end zone for a nine-yard TD run. Faulk thus became the first player in NFL history to have three four-touchdown games in a single season. Tampa Bay 31, St. Louis 28.

Tampa Bay’s First Drive

WR Karl Williams was tripped up at the Bucs’ 27 on the following kickoff return.

RB Warrick Dunn continued to counter Faulk’s every move, starting the next drive with a 20-yard gash behind left tackle. The Rams came with a run blitz on the next play and QB Shaun King zipped a quick slant pass to WR Jacquez Green for nine yards. Dunn moved the sticks with a two-yard run up the middle.

Controversy erupted on the next snap, when King’s errant pass in WR Keyshawn Johnson’s vicinity was penalized for intentional grounding. That set up a very difficult second-and-21, though a challenge of the spot changed it to second-and-20 before the next snap.

King scrambled left on the next snap and, just as he looked about to tuck it away, straightened up and fired a high pass that went through the hands of a leaping Johnson. On third-and-20, King made perhaps his most impressive pass of the season. Standing in the pocket for what seemed like forever, King eventually scrambled right and threw down the sideline to WR Jacquez Green. The pass just dropped over the hand of Dexter McCleon, into Green’s hands for a 30-yard gain. Green impressively held on despite a crushing hit by S Devin Bush.

On the next snap, a patient Dunn waited for a seam then sliced up the left sideline for 21 yards to the Rams’ one.

On first down, King’s fade pass to TE Dave Moore was juggled then dropped in the corner of the end zone. Dunn tried the middle on second down but lost two yards. The Bucs then allowed the clock to run down to the 6:24 mark before calling a timeout.

After the break, disaster struck. King tried to get Johnson his third touchdown of the game, but the fade pass was tipped and then intercepted by McCleon.

St. Louis’ Second Drive

A touchback put St. Louis at its own 20, and Warner started with an eight-yard pass to TE Roland Williams.

On the next snap, Warner zipped a quick slant to Holt, who broke a tackle and outran the Bucs’ defense for a 72-yard touchdown. St. Louis 35, Tampa Bay 31.

Tampa Bay’s Second Drive

Williams returned the next kickoff to the Bucs’ 24, where they would start with 5:07 left on the clock.

King failed to find an open man on first down and was dropped by DE Kevin Carter for a six-yard loss. On second down from the Bucs’ 18, King threw deep over the middle, where Johnson leapt over LB London Fletcher for a first down at the Bucs’ 41.

King tried to hit Green on a deep fly pattern down the left sideline on the next snap, but it came down just out of Green’s reach. King found several blitzers in his face on second down and threw up a prayer towards Dunn that was almost intercepted.

King threw incomplete to Dunn on third down, setting up fourth-and-ten, and the Bucs’ chose to go for it. King’s pass over the middle to Johnson was thrown behind the receiver and nearly intercepted by LB Michael Jones.

St. Louis’ Third Drive

Taking over at the Bucs’ 41, St. Louis gave it to Faulk, who was tripped up by LB Derrick Brooks for no gain. Faulk managed to get four yards off left tackle on the next carry, but picked up only one on third-and-six. John Baker came on to punt and hit it into the end zone for a touchback.

Tampa Bay’s Third Drive

That left Tampa Bay with 2:22 on the clock and needing a touchdown to win. A quick pass over the middle to TE Dave Moore was broken up for an incompletion, but another quick strike over the middle to Johnson picked up seven and ran the clock to the two-minute warning.

After the stoppage in play, King converted the third down, rolling right under pressure and pulling up to throw an eight-yard pass to Green, who went out of bounds at the 35.

After a strange incompletion that was near no receiver, the Bucs’ came up with an amazing play to get deep in Rams territory. King threw a screen pass to Dunn, who was met immediately by Carter. Dunn tried to spin away from Carter, but couldn’t escape the Ram’s grasp on his jersey. Before he could be pulled down, however, Dunn alertly pitched it back to King, who managed to scramble upfield for 29 yards to midfield. A late-hit penalty tacked on 15 yards to the 35.

A quick out pass to Dunn on first down picked up six yards, but a nearly perfect deep throw to Green at the goal line was bobbled and dropped. After a sliding Johnson failed to come up with King’s low throw on third down, the Bucs were forced to go for it on fourth down. King converted by scrambling for six yards, just diving past the sticks as LB London Fletcher tripped him from behind.

On first down, King tried to drop a high pass in to Dunn inside the 10, but a diving Dunn couldn’t reach it. The Rams then called a timeout with 1:02 remaining.

King’s next pass went down to Anthony, who spun acrobatically to catch the ball before being knocked out at the one-yard line with 56 seconds remaining.

TE Dave Moore appeared to be open on a first-down pass, but CB Todd Lyght tipped the ball away at the last second. On the next play, King pitched to Dunn, who began to sweep left then cut up towards the goal line and dove in for the go-ahead score. Dunn’s career-best third touchdown tied the Bucs’ record for rushing touchdowns in a single game. Tampa Bay 38, St. Louis 35.

St. Louis’ Third Drive

After Faulk took the ensuing kickoff back to the St. Louis 21, Warner threw deep over the middle to Bruce, but Bruce dropped the perfect throw. Warner tried to go even deeper on second down, but S John Lynch was playing perfect centerfield and he intercepted the pass, dropping to the field at the Rams’ 48. One kneeldown ended the game to the Bucs’ delight.

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