Bradford has 2 TDs to lead Rams over Bucs 28-13
- Article by: FRED GOODALL
- Associated Press
- December 24, 2012 - 3:29 AM
TAMPA, Fla. - The St. Louis Rams are getting accustomed to Janoris Jenkins doing special things when the rookie cornerback gets his hands on the football.
Jenkins scored his fourth touchdown of the season Sunday, returning a first-half interception 41 yards to help the NFL's youngest team stay in the running for a winning record with a 28-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I'm just trying to make plays for my team and just trying to be accountable," said Jenkins, a second-round draft pick who has scored on three of his four interceptions and also returned a fumble for a TD. "Every man has got to do his job, and I just want to be able to do my job for these guys I'm out there with."
Jenkins took advantage of receiver Mike Williams slipping to the ground to pick off Josh Freeman's sideline throw. He did a tight-rope act to stay in bounds, then took off up the field.
The Rams weren't surprised where he wound up.
"I just turn and block, just like in practice. I don't even have to look, and then I turn around and see him in the end zone," defensive end Chris Long said. "He's a special talent, a dangerous player when he's got the ball in his hands."
St. Louis (7-7-1) won for the fourth time in the past five games, with Sam Bradford throwing for a pair of touchdowns and Steven Jackson rushing for 81 yards and one TD to move within 10 yards of reaching 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season. Tight end Lance Kendricks scored on an 80-yard reception and finished with four catches for 119 yards.
A victory in next week's finale at Seattle will give the Rams their first winning record since 2003.
That's a huge step for a team that won two games in 2011.
"We've got seven wins now," first-year coach Jeff Fisher said. "I don't think many people thought we would do that, but we've got a chance to get eight, so that's what our focus is."
Bradford connected with Kendricks on the first play of the third quarter to build on a 14-6 halftime lead. The Rams' defense did its part, too, with four interceptions and five sacks.
The offense turned two of the turnovers into touchdowns.
Despite the victory, the Rams were eliminated from playoff contention. But with a winning record still within reach, players were in a festive mood after the game.
"Obviously it's frustrating," Bradford said of not making the playoffs. "That's why you play the game. You play for the opportunity to win championships. You obviously can't do that if you don't get into the playoffs, so it's a little bit disappointing."
It's nice, though, to still have something to play for next week.
"This is a chance to finish out on a winning note and a chance to be undefeated in the division," Fisher said. "If we're able to do that, I'd say then we can jump into the offseason with optimism for next year."
Tampa Bay (6-9) turned the ball five times and was stopped on downs twice inside the Rams 10 en route to its fifth straight loss. The Bucs also had five turnovers the previous week in a 41-0 loss at New Orleans.
Freeman completed 30 of 54 passes for 372 yards and one TD, however, the Bucs simply were unable to overcome his mistakes.
The fourth-year pro has thrown eight interceptions in the past two weeks after only having three passes picked off over the previous eight games.
"I've got to take the blame as the quarterback," Freeman said. "Saints game, this game, not really the brand of football I want to play."
NOTES: Tampa Bay outgained the Rams 429 yards to 285. ... Bradford was 13 of 27 for 196 yards, one interception and no sacks — ending a stretch in which the St. Louis quarterback was sacked in a league-high 30 consecutive games. ... Freeman has thrown for 3,843 yards, a Bucs single-season record.
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