Los Angeles — The Buccaneers’ phenomenal start at the Coliseum gave way to creeping dread as the Rams rallied. Tampa Bay’s 18-point lead rapidly shrunk to five early in the fourth quarter, forcing everybody to recall last week’s blown 18-point lead over the Giants.
With one big play after another, the Bucs made sure it wouldn’t happen against the defending NFC champions.
And nobody came up bigger than Shaquil Barrett and former Lion Ndamukong Suh.
Jameis Winston passed for 385 yards and threw two of his four touchdown passes to Chris Godwin, and Suh returned Jared Goff’s fumble 37 yards for a touchdown with 1:06 to play in the Buccaneers’ 55-40 victory over previously unbeaten Los Angeles on Sunday.
Godwin had career highs of 12 catches for 172 yards as the Buccaneers (2-2) jumped to an early 21-0 lead and then scored 24 points in a wild fourth quarter to complete the highest-scoring game in the franchise’s 44-year history.
“We’ve got to be able to win games like this, but we don’t want to have to win games like this,” Barrett said. “I don’t like giving up 40 points. That’s what you do in college.”
Suh made a TD return against his old teammates after Barrett forced the fumble with his ninth sack of the young season. Tampa Bay gave up 518 total yards, but hung on for its first win over the Rams since 2010 in a potentially momentous performance under first-year coach Bruce Arians.
“We knew it was going to come down to the last five minutes of that game, whether we played well or not,” Arians said. “We did today, and we’re learning. It was a tough loss last week, but victories like these galvanize a team, and this team is starting to believe and see what they can be.”
Goff passed for a career-high 517 yards and two touchdowns, but the Rams’ $134 million quarterback also threw three interceptions for the second time in his career. Goff coughed it up while being sacked by Barrett as the Rams (3-1) attempted a tying drive, and Suh scooped and scored against the team with which he reached the Super Bowl last season.
“They did a great job applying that pressure and keeping it on all day,” Goff said. “It’s frustrating. It’s something we need to get fixed quickly.”
Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II rushed for TDs, and Cameron Brate also had a TD reception. Winston picked apart the Los Angeles secondary while going 28 of 41, while Godwin had the most catches by a Tampa Bay receiver since Keyshawn Johnson in 2001 — and it almost wasn’t enough.
“It just solidifies something that we already know: that we can play with anybody,” Godwin said.
Tampa Bay went up 45-27 with 11:35 to play when Mike Evans burned Marcus Peters for a 67-yard TD capped by some goal-line showboating. But after Cooper Kupp caught a 29-yard TD pass, Peters returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown with 8:11 to play.
Tampa Bay went back ahead by eight when Winston led a 72-yard drive capped by Matt Gay’s short field goal with 2:35 left. Goff got the Rams to midfield, but Barrett and Suh finished strong in Tampa Bay’s first game in Los Angeles since 1993.
Robert Woods had 13 catches for 164 yards, and Kupp added nine catches for 121 yards. Goff went 45 of 68 while under regular pressure in a Rams offense that didn’t look much like the relentless machine built by Sean McVay in his first two seasons in LA, despite its lofty statistics and final point total.
“Knowing McVay and being with them all last year, they want to pass the ball,” Suh said. “They pride themselves on getting yardage and making plays in the air, although they have some great running backs.”
Todd Gurley rushed for two touchdowns, but got only five carries for 16 yards in the Rams’ nonexistent running game.
“This is really a wake-up call for everyone, not just the offense,” McVay said. “The only blessing is we have a short week. The only thing that we can really control is we play again on Thursday.”
(At) Chicago 16, Minnesota 6: Chase Daniel threw for 195 yards and a touchdown after Mitchell Trubisky got knocked out of the game with a left shoulder injury on the opening possession, and Chicago swarmed NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook in a victory over Minnesota.
The defending NFC North champions avoided an 0-2 start at Soldier Field and another home loss to a division rival to go with the one they suffered against Green Bay in the NFL’s 100th season opener. But they lost their quarterback soon after the opening kickoff.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Trubisky was scrambling when Danielle Hunter dragged him down. The quarterback’s non-throwing arm got pinned awkwardly under his body as the ball popped out. Minnesota made the recovery, but a holding penalty against Anthony Harris negated the play.
The Bears (3-1) held Cook to 35 yards on 14 attempts after he ran for at least 110 in the first three games, even though Akiem Hicks (knee) and linebacker Roquan Smith (personal reasons) missed the game.
Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) was 27 of 36 for 233 yards and got sacked six times as the Vikings (2-2) lost to Chicago on the road for the 16th time in 19 games.
(At) New Orleans 12, Dallas 10: Vonn Bell’s forced fumble and two recoveries helped the Saints stifle a Dallas offense that had rolled through its first three games, and Wil Lutz kicked four field goals to lift New Orleans over the Cowboys.
Dallas came in with the NFL’s third-ranked running game, averaging 179 yards. Dallas (3-1) finished with 45 yards on the ground.
Dak Prescott gave Dallas one last shot when he found Randall Cobb over the middle for 32 yards to the Dallas 48 and spiked the ball with 2 seconds left. But his desperation heave was rushed by a Saints blitz and safety Marcus Williams came down with an interception and New Orleans’ third forced turnover of the game.
Teddy Bridgewater made his second start in place of Drew Brees, who attended the game with a cast on his surgically repaired right thumb. Bridgewater was 23 of 30 for 193 yards and was intercepted once, albeit on an accurate pass that bounced off of Ted Ginn Jr.’s hands near midfield in the first quarter.
Jacksonville 26, (at) Denver 24: Leonard Fournette ran for a career-high 225 yards and Josh Lambo kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired, sending Jacksonville past winless Denver.
The Broncos (0-4) not only were victimized by a last-second field goal for the second time this season, but they blew a 14-point lead at home in a loss for the first time since 2006.
Gardner Minshew II drove the Jaguars, one of four AFC South teams who are 2-2, into field goal range after Joe Flacco’s 8-yard TD throw to Courtland Sutton with 1:38 left gave Denver a 24-23 lead.
Eerily reminiscent of their 16-14 loss to the Bears in Denver two weeks ago, the Broncos helped ignite the winning drive by getting whistled for roughing the passer.
Against Chicago, it was Bradley Chubb’s questionable penalty, which the league admitted was a bad call. Against the Jaguars, it was a flag by Von Miller, who reached up and struck Minshew in his neck just as he released his pass in a chaotic pocket.
Miller’s foul spoiled his big day in which he collected his 99th and 100th career sacks and drew several holding penalties, one of which wiped a Jaguars touchdown off the board.
New England 16, (at) Buffalo 10: Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins forced Buffalo’s fourth turnover by intercepting backup Matt Barkley’s pass with 1:27 remaining to seal the win.
J.C. Jackson had two interceptions and blocked a punt, which was returned 11 yards by Matthew Slater for a touchdown. Brandon Bolden scored on a 4-yard run in a defensive slugfest between previously unbeaten AFC East rivals.
New England is off to its first 4-0 start since 2015, and fifth time during Bill Belichick’s 20 seasons as coach.
The Bills (3-1) not only blew an opportunity to open a season with four straight wins for the first time since 2008, but now face questions at quarterback. Barkley took over after starter Josh Allen sustained a head injury when he was brought down by a helmet-to-helmet hit by Jonathan Jones in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Allen was briefly evaluated under a tent on the sideline before being escorted up the tunnel.
Though Tom Brady (Michigan) didn’t play much of a factor, he upped his career record to 31-3 against Buffalo — extending the NFL career mark for most victories by a quarterback against one opponent. New England won its sixth straight against the Bills, and improved to 34-5 against Buffalo since the start of the 2000 season.
(At) New York Giants 24, Washington 3: Daniel Jones worked his magic again, Saquon Barkley’s replacement Wayne Gallman scored two touchdowns, and Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) scored on a 32-yard interception return.
Washington's 0-4 start is its worst since losing its first five in 2001. The start also has seriously put coach Jay Gruden’s job in jeopardy after five-plus season, a 35-49-1 record and one playoff berth (2015).
Jones (23 of 31 for 225 yards) has sparked the Giants (2-2) since replacing two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning as the starting quarterback. He rallied New York from an 18-point deficit in his first start against the Buccaneers last week and was solid early, leading New York to touchdown runs on its first two series.
Gallman, who is going to start for the foreseeable future with Barkley battling a high ankle sprain, caught a 6-yard TD pass and scored on a 1-yard run to stake New York to a 14-0 lead.
Seattle 27, (at) Arizona 10: Russell Wilson threw for 240 yards a touchdown, Jadeveon Clowney returned an interception for a touchdown for Seattle.
The Seahawks (3-1) scored two touchdowns by early in the second quarter, one on Clowney’s spectacular 27-yard interception return and another on a 9-yard pass from Wilson to tight end Will Dissly.
After that, Seattle controlled the game’s pace with Chris Carson, who ran for 104 yards on 22 carries. The Seahawks also leaned on their defense, which forced Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray into another up-and-down day.
Arizona’s problems were a familiar story. The Cardinals (0-3-1) moved the ball fairly well in the first half, but couldn’t convert that success into touchdowns. To make matters worse, Zane Gonzalez missed two field goal attempts from 43 and 48 yards and the Seahawks led 20-3 at halftime.
Oakland 31, (at) Indianapolis 24: Derek Carr led the Raiders to touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, and Erik Harris returned a late interception 30 yards for a score to seal the victory.
Oakland (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and won in Indy for the first time since 2001.
With starting receivers T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess (Michigan) out with injuries, the Colts (2-2) gained 346 yards — most coming in the final quarter when they were scrambling to get back in the game. The inability to sustain drives took a toll on Indy’s defense.
Carolina 16, (at) Houston 10: Kyle Allen threw for 232 yards and the Panthers overcame his three fumbles with help from a big defensive play.
The Panthers (2-2) took a 13-10 lead with a 55-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Texans (2-2) were driving with about four minutes left when Deshaun Watson was sacked by Vernon Butler, who caused a fumble recovered by Eric Reid at the Houston 33.
Carolina pushed the lead to 16-10 when Joey Slye added a 26-yard field goal with 28 seconds left. Houston had a chance for the win, but Deshaun Watson’s desperation throw as time expired was knocked down in the end zone by Reid.
Allen was making his third career start and second this season in place of Cam Newton, out with a foot injury. Allen lost the ball three times on sacks, but the Texans were only able to get points out of the last one to allow the Panthers to stay in it until their defense came through with the big play late.
Cleveland 40, (at) Baltimore 25: Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards and a touchdown, Nick Chubb ran for a pivotal 88-yard score and the Browns earned a share of first place in the AFC North.
Chubb finished with 165 yards and three scores against the league’s third-ranked rushing defense. Jarvis Landry had eight catches for 167 yards before leaving with a suspected concussion.
Cleveland kept Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson in check and used a mixture of Mayfield’s passing and Chubb’s physical running to rip the Ravens for 530 yards — the second straight week Baltimore (2-2) yielded more than 500 yards.
As a result, Cleveland (2-2) finds itself in the top spot of the division with the Ravens, who won it last year. It’s the first time Cleveland has been in first place after four games since 2013.
Tennessee 24, (at) Atlanta 10: Marcus Mariota threw three first-half touchdown passes, two to A.J. Brown, and the Tennessee defense had three fourth-down stops.
Tennessee (2-2) used Mariota’s big first half and the strong defense to snap a two-game losing streak. Derrick Henry, who ran for 100 yards, helped the Titans dominate the clock and hold the Falcons to only a field goal in the second half.
Ito Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter pulled the Falcons (1-3) even 7-7. Tennessee outscored Atlanta 17-0 the remainder of the half, and the Falcons heard boos as they left the field.
Matt Ryan passed for 397 yards, but the Falcons were stopped on those three fourth-down plays. Julio Jones had only four catches for 52 yards.
L.A. Chargers 30, (at) Miami 10: Philip Rivers threw for 310 yards and two scores to help the Chargers win in Miami for the first time in 38 years.
Rivers completed 24 of 30 attempts with no interceptions and directed a 10½-minute drive in the third quarter that helped Los Angeles take control.
The Dolphins (0-4) held a lead for the first time this season, but it lasted only 3 minutes, 49 seconds. They’ve been outscored 163-26 this season, the NFL’s worst four-game point differential since at least 1940.
The Chargers (2-2) had lost eight games in a row in Miami. Their last victory came in an overtime playoff thriller in January 1982 that’s regarded as one of the greatest games in NFL history.