Updated: Monday, October 18, 2004 10:11 AM EDT
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Tampa Bay (1-4) at St Louis (3-2) Monday, 9:00 pm EDT
Buccaneers
Rams

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- A pair of emotionally charged teams meet Monday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the St. Louis Rams.

The Buccaneers got their first win of 2004 last week by topping New Orleans on the road, while the Rams pulled off an improbable fourth-quarter comeback at Seattle before winning in overtime, 33-27.

St. Louis trailed, 27-10, with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter when Marc Bulger led a furious rally against a defensive unit that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the league. He threw a pair of touchdown passes in a 2:11 span, the second a 41-yard connection with Kevin Curtis to bring St. Louis within 27-24.

Jeff Wilkins ' field goal in the closing seconds forced overtime, and on the sixth play of the extra session, Bulger found Shaun McDonald for a 52-yard scoring play. It was the eighth comeback victory in Bulger's short career.

A loss to the Seahawks would have placed the Rams 2 1/2 games back in the NFC West. Instead, St. Louis has put itself in position to gain the division lead with a win over Tampa Bay and a loss by Seattle, which visits unbeaten New England.

Amid a swirl of personnel questions and a dose of shakiness at quarterback, the Buccaneers fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1988 but rebounded in fine fashion last week.

After backup quarterback Chris Simms - the son of former NFL star Phil Simms - was injured in the first quarter, another second generation signal-caller led Tampa Bay to a win. Brian Griese , the son of Bob Griese, came on and completed 16-of-19 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown.

A seven-year veteran, Griese will get his first start as a Buccaneer on Monday. It may be a chance for the 29-year-old to regain the credibility he had and quickly lost with the Denver Broncos . Twice in four years as a starter with the Broncos, Griese threw for more than 3,000 yards.

After being let go following the 2002 season, Griese endured a wayward stint with Miami in 2003 and a few games on the bench with Tampa Bay this season before injuries set him up for a big start on the road.

The Buccaneers will need all Griese can give them to get a struggling offense going. They reached 20 points for just the second time this year and own just four offensive touchdowns through the first five games.

Some things never change, however, as Tampa Bay continues to showcase a prime defensive unit. The squad ranks fourth in total defense and has a pair of touchdowns.

After dropping six straight in the series, the Buccaneers have won three of the last four meetings. They've done it with offense, averaging 28 points in their victories.

Matchup to watch: Rams wide receiver Torry Holt faces off with right cornerback Ronde Barber .

Series: St. Louis, 8-6, but Tampa Bay has won three straight and four of the last five.

Next week: Tampa Bay hosts Chicago on October 24. St. Louis visits Miami on October 24.


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