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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Third-down struggles return in second half



ST. LOUIS -- After going 4-for-5 on third downs to open Sunday's game, the Bucs regressed to their struggles of the last month, missing on their last nine third downs, including four sacks.

"We gave up three third-down sacks. It's not like the third downs were (long)," coach Greg Schiano said. "We had two (third-and) 9s, and the rest were three-and-under. We had six of them. Fourof them were very manageable and we got sacked on three of them."

That came after a promising start -- a 30-yard pass play for a rare conversion on third-and-10, then a touchdown by Bobby Rainey on third and goal at the 1-yard line. Glennon was sacked on a third and 4, slid to a stop short on a third and 1, and threw a 7-yard pass to Tim Wright on a third-and-9 play.

In the fourth quarter, when the Bucs got into obvious passing plays even in third-and-short situations, the Rams' pass rush took over the game, closing it out with sacks on three straight third downs. The first came on a third-and-3 as the Bucs were driving for a potential tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Glennon was sacked and fumbled, setting up a field goal for the final 10-point margin.

"It was just a tough day for our offense," said Glennon, whose team had back-to-back games under 200 yards for the first time since 2006. "We'll learn from this, and we have one last game to get ready for. ... We just need to play better, and we have to be better at ... not get into these situaitons with the third-and-(longs). It was good to get going there in the second half, but as an offense, we have to get better."

The Bucs' third-down slump has them now 2-for-38 on third down and 8 or longer in the last seven games; they're also 0-for-their-last-27 on third and 5 or longer in the second half. As a team, they're converting just 20 percent of their third downs (10-for-49) in the last four games.

[Last modified: Sunday, December 22, 2013 5:56pm]


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