(Reuters) - Quarterback Case Keenum sliced up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense, throwing for 234 yards and two touchdowns as the St Louis Rams bagged a 31-23 victory in what could be their last game at Edward Jones Dome on Thursday.
Keenum completed 14-of-17 passes as the Rams (6-8), who are one of three franchises angling for a move to Los Angeles, gave the announced crowd of 51,295 plenty of excuses to wave the gold towels that matched the team’s all-gold uniforms.
“There’s no telling what will happen but the fans today were incredible,” Keenum told reporters. “To show like they did... it was a great atmosphere tonight.”
Wide receiver Tavon Austin scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 21-yard run on a reverse with 5:35 left in the third quarter for a 28-6 lead.
Running back Benny Cunningham added a 102-yard kickoff return to the Tampa Bay three to set up a 19-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein in the fourth quarter.
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston completed 29-of-50 passes for 363 yards and fourth quarter touchdowns to tight ends Luke Stocker and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Winston also threw an interception and lost a fumble to abort second-half drives.
Kicker Connor Barth booted three field goals for Tampa Bay (6-8), who had harbored wild-card playoff hopes until losing the last two games.
St Louis dominated the first half with an infrequent display of offense, using big plays to produce three touchdowns. Austin made it 7-0 just over three minutes into the game by taking a short pass from Keenum and bolting 17 yards.
After Barth drilled a 53-yard field goal with 4:52 left in the first quarter, the Rams answered less than two minutes later as wide receiver Kenny Britt hauled in Keenum’s 60-yard scoring strike.
The Buccaneers owned the ball for more than seven minutes to open the second quarter, but got nothing as running back Doug Martin was stuffed for a two-yard loss by defensive tackle Aaron Donald on 4th-and-one at the St Louis 23.
The Rams promptly marched 75 yards in nine plays for a 21-3 lead, running back Todd Gurley capping the drive with a three-yard touchdown run at the 2:09 mark.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher also spoke highly of the atmosphere after initially wondering if fans would show up for the game.
“We appreciate our fans,” Fisher said. “I was a little concerned, you know, came out for warm-ups and thought most people were going to stay home and watch it.
“But, I mean, they came in. They must’ve been outside having a good time because they came in and it was great to see them. They saw a good ballgame.”
Editing by John O'Brien