TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Despite making his first NFL start, Austin Davis played with the calm and resolve of a seasoned pro.
Greg Zuerlein’s fourth field goal of the day, a 38-yarder with 38 seconds remaining, gave Davis and the St. Louis Rams a 19-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Davis completed 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions. Zac Stacy had a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Zuerlein also made field goals of 36, 35 and 46 yards to help the Rams (1-1) rebound from a lopsided season-opening loss to Minnesota.
Bobby Rainey rushed for 144 yards and quarterback Josh McCown had two short touchdown runs for the Bucs (0-2), who moved the ball into St. Louis territory in the closing seconds only to have the game end when rookie Mike Evans was slow getting up after a 29-yard reception to the St. Louis 32.
Officials stopped the clock with 8 seconds remaining and Evans was eventually helped off the field, But by rule, an injury in that situation requires a 10-second runoff, and the remaining time was wiped off the clock.
McCown scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards. Rainey, filling in for the injured Doug Martin, helped the Bucs move into position for Patrick Murray to kick a 36-yard field goal to give Tampa Bay a 17-16 lead with 5:15 remaining.
But a defense playing without tackle Gerald McCoy and middle linebacker Mason Foster couldn’t keep Davis from leading the Rams on a 12-play, 71-yard drive to win the game.
With Sam Bradford out for the year with a knee injury and backup Shaun Hill also hurt, Davis made his first pro start after spending most of the past two seasons on the Rams’ practice squad.
Stacy rushed for 71 yards on 19 carries and Brian Quick had seven receptions for 74 yards for St. Louis.
Play was stopped for 51 minutes in the first half because of severe weather.
Lightning forced players and coaches off the field with 6:03 remaining in the second quarter.
They returned to the field after about 40 minutes in the locker rooms and were given an additional 10 minutes to warm up before play resumed with the score tied 7-7.
In addition to playing without Martin, the Bucs featured a new look on the defensive line with starting ends Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn out after being injured in the season opener. McCoy left with what appeared to be a left hand injury in the first half and Foster left in the second half.
The Rams played part of the game without receiver Tavon Austin, who was injured when he was tackled by Mark Barron after a reception.
McCown, a career backup entering a season as a starter for the first time in a decade, completed passes of 18 and 20 yards to Vincent Jackson before Rainey broke a 10-yard run to set up the quarterback’s second TD.
The Bucs threatened again on their next possession, driving deep into Rams territory before Murray’s 26-yard field goal attempt was blocked by T.J. McDonald.
The Bucs also had a punt blocked, leading to a Rams field goal. McCown also threw a first-quarter interception that stopped a drive inside the Rams 10.