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More changes for Bucs defense; none slow Rams

ST. LOUIS — The Bucs continued to tinker with their secondary, but it didn't stop the Rams from throwing for 175 yards in the first half Thursday night and 234 for the game.

There were changes all over — Major Wright started at safety in place of Bradley McDougald for the first time this season, Keith Tandy replaced Alterraun Verner as the primary nickel defensive back, and the team even brought back former starter Johnthan Banks in a three-man rotation at cornerback.

Rookie CB Jude Adjei-Barimah, still starting despite struggles in recent weeks, was beaten deep on a 60-yard touchdown pass to WR Kenny Britt, the longest play the Bucs allowed this season. Tampa Bay came in with an NFL-low three pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed.

Winston marks: The Bucs' fourth-quarter rally from a 22-point deficit ended with a failed onside kick, but rookie QB Jameis Winston reset his career highs with a prolific final quarter. Winston went 18-for-27 for 238 yards in the last 15 minutes and for the game reset his career highs for completions (29), attempts (50) and yards (363, his first 300-yard game). And with fourth-quarter touchdown throws to TEs Luke Stocker and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Winston broke Mike Glennon's team rookie record for touchdown passes with 20.

NFL leader: The Bucs' Doug Martin rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries, moving him past Minnesota's Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing lead. Martin came in second in the league with 1,214 yards. Peterson has 1,251 going into Sunday's game against the Bears.

Injuries: The Bucs got DE Jacquies Smith back after he missed two games with a hamstring injury; he had a sack. Two defensive starters, LB Bruce Carter and DT Akeem Spence, were out with ankle injuries. Danny Lansanah started for Carter — the team's third starting middle linebacker in as many games — and Tony McDaniel got his first start of the season for Spence.

Flagged again: DE Will Gholston drew a personal foul penalty, his fifth 15-yarder this season, for kicking RB Todd Gurley after a play in the second quarter. Gholston said he didn't kick Gurley and that he was trying to get his leg "out of a vise." The penalty gave the Rams a first down at the Bucs 12, setting up their third touchdown. Gholston has been flagged four times for unnecessary roughness; no other Buc has more than one. Gholston also has one roughing-the-passer penalty.

This and that: St. Louis QB Case Keenum nearly had a perfect 158.3 rating. He was 14-for-17 for 234 yards and two touchdowns for a 158 rating. The Rams had only eight passing touchdowns all season coming in (and never more than one in any game); Keenum had had one in limited duty. … The Bucs' 21-3 halftime deficit was their worst since a season-opening loss to the Titans, when they were down by 28 at halftime. … Tampa Bay's only sack in the first half was split by DT Gerald McCoy and DE Howard Jones. That extended McCoy's team lead to 7½ sacks this season.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

More changes for Bucs defense; none slow Rams 12/17/15 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2015 9:14am]
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