There are high-scoring football games that make you think of the future, like last year’s Chiefs-Rams game in Week 11 on Monday night. Then, there are high-scoring football games that make you think the league’s central processing unit has corroded, and that we’re seconds away from the human embodiment of the floating-man Madden glitch.
Sunday afternoon’s Rams-Buccaneers game was the latter. It had just about everything: Irresponsible run game abandonment, big man touchdowns, no defense, but then … plenty of defense. Here were four of the stranger things we noticed.
1. It was a Scoragami. There has never been a 55-40 game in NFL history, according to the Scoragami Twitter account. This was the 1,050th different final score ever. Also, it was one of two Scoragami on the same Sunday (Browns 40, Ravens 25). It is also the 12th-highest scoring game in NFL history. The Rams have now been a part of three of the 12 highest scoring games in the history of the NFL’s regular season.
2. Jared Goff threw the ball 68 times, and his total number of dropbacks was 77. The 68 passing attempts is good enough for a three-way tie for third place in NFL history behind Drew Beldsoe (70, for the Patriots vs. the Vikings, Nov. 13, 1994) and Vinny Testaverde (69, for the New York Jets against the Baltimore Ravens, Dec. 24, 2000). George Blanda and Jon Kitna have also thrown 68 passes in a game. This was a weird night for Goff whose play ebbed throughout the night. There is certainly a case to be made, albeit an early one, about his Super Bowl performance dragging into the 2019 season (along with the effect the Patriots’ defensive blueprint has had on Sean McVay’s system). To McVay’s credit, he hasn’t neutered his struggling passer, putting the ball in Goff’s hands for some of the game’s most critical moments, like a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter that would have put the Rams within a field goal to tie.
If you want to place this game in a vacuum, it was weird from the start. Batted balls, false starts. The offense committed a pair of penalties on their opening drive. Tampa Bay brought a ton of heat, almost preparing for a shootout, which seemed to bother Goff throughout the night. It helps that Shaquil Barrett has been almost unblockable through the beginning of the season.
3. The Buccaneers began the game white-hot. They scored the first first-quarter touchdown the Rams have given up in nine games. Before the Los Angeles offense returned serve, this looked like a team who could beat anyone in the NFL. It’s strange to say that, in a game where Tampa Bay surrendered 40 points, that it may have highlighted the reason why Todd Bowles was such a major score for this team. That being said, some of his simulated pressure looks were brilliant, and, seeing how the game ended up, made all the difference early on (Shaquil Barrett has been almost unblockable through the beginning of the season, which tends to help). This was also a career-rebounding game for Jameis Winston in a big spot. Though he was aided by some fortuitous moments—it was the kind of day when lofting a jump ball into a heavily trafficked area resulted in a score and not a drop or interception—Winston dropped several perfect balls in between bracketed coverage looks, where the margin of error was pinfully slim.
4. Ndamukong Suh almost hit 19 miles per hour on a game-sealing fumble recovery for a touchdown against his former team. It was not enough to crack the fastest ballcarriers of the day list, but for perspective, he’s only about three miles per hour behind Browns running back Nick Chubb, whose 88-yard touchdown run on Sunday had him top out at almost 22 miles per hour. Suh hit Goff twice and also registered a tackle, in the exact kind of game that he is still uniquely useful for.
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