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Rams show their offensive power: Five takeaways from win over Bucs

Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson scores on a 75-yard touchdown reception.
Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson scores on a 75-yard touchdown reception during the second half of a 34-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
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The Rams improved their record to 3-0 with a 34-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at SoFi Stadium.

Here’s what we learned from the Rams’ victory:

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DeSean Jackson still can go deep

Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson beats Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards to the end zone.
Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson beats Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards to the end zone on a 75-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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Coach Sean McVay said it was so. Teammates claimed that the 14th-year pro had not lost a step.

But through two games there was no evidence the 34-year-old Jackson still possessed the speed that made him one of the NFL’s top deep threats. Of course, in victories over the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, McVay gave him no chances to show it

That changed in the first quarter against the Buccaneers. Jackson beat a defender, only to have Matthew Stafford — gasp! — underthrow a pass that fell incomplete.

But in the first series of the second half, Jackson got wide open, caught a 45-yard pass from Stafford and then weaved 30 yards for a 75-yard touchdown. He also turned a short pass into a 40-yard gain and finished with three catches for 120 yards.

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Tight end Tyler Higbee once again is a threat

Rams tight end Tyler Higbee spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter Sunday.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

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Two years ago, Higbee elevated himself into the NFL’s elite tight ends conversation when he finished the season with four 100-yard receiving performances in the final five games.

But last season injuries stunted Higbee’s ascent.

Matthew Stafford outplayed Tom Brady at SoFi Stadium and is proving to be the missing ingredient for a Rams team hungry to win the Super Bowl.

On Sunday, he caught five passes for 40 yards, including a six-yard touchdown. The scoring play would not have been possible if 39-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth had not shown his agility by recovering a Higbee fumble early in the scoring drive.

A productive Higbee further expands the offense for McVay and Stafford.

4

Sony Michel has no problem carrying the load

Rams running back Sony Michel carries the ball against the Buccaneers in the fourth quarter.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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With running back Darrell Henderson sidelined because of a rib injury, Michel stepped into the starting role and built on his fourth-quarter performance against the Colts.

Michel rushed for 67 yards in 20 carries and caught three passes against the Buccaneers.

The statistics were not overwhelming but Michel ran hard against one of the NFL’s best defensive fronts, especially as the Rams drove for a second-quarter touchdown, and in the fourth quarter when the Rams pulled away.

5

Kenny Young knows how to bounce back

Rams inside linebacker Kenny Young celebrates after sacking Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Rams inside linebacker Kenny Young celebrates after sacking Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the second half.
(Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

After being ejected against the Colts and fined $12,000 for making contact with an official, Young again made a positive impact.

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It might too early to be talking Super Bowl, but these Rams looked very much like a super team in their 34-24 victory over the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He made a team-best 10 tackles, three for losses, and sacked Tom Brady. He also forced running back Giovani Bernard to fumble a ball that rolled out of bounds.

Young and fellow inside linebacker Troy Reeder have made big plays in every game.

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Special teams are making strides

Rams kicker Matt Gay makes a field goal against the Buccaneers in the second half Sunday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

It was not headline material, but it was noteworthy: For the first time this season, the Rams did not give up a long return on the opening kickoff. Matt Gay kicked the ball through the end zone, but that’s beside the point.

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It was a sign that perhaps the problems of the first two games had been corrected, as special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis pledged they would be.

Remember that botched punt snap that bounced off protector Nick Scott and was recovered by the Colts for a touchdown? The operation was perfect against the Buccaneers. Johnny Hekker punted three times, twice to the 11-yard line and once to the 12.

Gay kicked two field goals, improving to six for six.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 34-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday:

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