Dunn’s late touchdown caps Tampa’s comeback
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – The St. Louis Rams could not defend Warrick Dunn, Shaun King and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now might not get a chance to defend their Super Bowl title.
Dunn scored his third touchdown with 48 seconds remaining and the Buccaneers clinched a playoff spot, outscoring the Rams 38-35 Monday night and leaving St. Louis needing help to make the postseason.
Marshall Faulk scored four touchdowns for the Rams, but it was not enough in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game won by St. Louis.
To reach the playoffs, the Rams (9-6) need to beat New Orleans next Sunday and hope Chicago pulls an upset at Detroit.
The win by Tampa Bay (10-5) also clinched the NFC West for New Orleans. The Buccaneers can still win the NFC Central with a victory at Green Bay on Sunday and a Minnesota loss at Indianapolis.
After Torry Holt’s 72-yard touchdown catch from Kurt Warner gave the Rams a 35-31 lead with just over five minutes to play, the Buccaneers rallied behind one of the craziest plays of the NFL season.
From their own 35, King threw a swing lateral to Dunn around the right side. But Dunn was trapped far behind the line and, with nowhere to go, suddenly pitched the ball back to King.
King escaped and streaked down the right sideline for a 15-yard gain, and 15 more yards were tacked on for a late hit called on linebacker Mike Jones.
”Shaun was just calling for the ball. We were desperate at the time,” Dunn said. ”It turned out to be a great play.”
Later, on a fourth-and-4 in Rams’ territory, King scrambled for a first down. King then threw a 22-yard pass to Reidel Anthony, which set up Dunn’s 1-yard TD run.
Warner tried to bring back the Rams, but threw his third interception of the game. John Lynch’s pickoff gave the Buccaneers sweet revenge from last season’s 11-6 loss in the NFC title game.
Keyshawn Johnson caught two touchdown passes and Dunn rushed for more than 100 yards for the third time in four weeks.
Faulk scored four touchdowns for the second straight week and third time this season, breaking the NFL record he shared with Jim Brown.
Warner completed 20 of 32 passes for 316 yards and two TDs.
King, who led the 13-play, 80-yard drive to win the game, completed 18 of 38 passes for 256 yards. His TD throws of 8 and 17 yards to Johnson, who had seven catches for 116 yards, were Tampa Bay’s first touchdown passes in five games.
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