NFL: Rams 28, Buccaneers 13
TAMPA, Fla. • The St. Louis Rams can still finish with a winning record, thanks to a pesky defense that forced five turnovers to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season Sunday, helping the St. Louis Rams keep their hopes for a winning record alive with a 28-13 victory.
Bradford connected with Lance Kendricks on an 80-yard scoring play on the first play of the third quarter. The Rams (7-7-1) intercepted Josh Freeman four times, turning three of the turnovers into TDs, including Jenkins' pick and 41-yard return early in the second quarter.
Steven Jackson rushed for 81 yards and one TD, moving within 10 yards of reaching 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season. The Rams can finish with a winning record for the first time since 2003 by beating Seattle next week.
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.
Bradford completed 13 of 27 passes for 196 yards and one interception. Kendricks finished with four receptions for 119 yards, while Jackson closed in on extending the NFL's longest current streak of 1,000-yard seasons rushing on 19 carries.
Tampa Bay outgained the Rams 429 yards to 285, with Freeman going 30 of 54 for 372 yards and one TD. But the Bucs simply were unable the fourth-year pro being intercepted four times for the second straight week.
Mike Williams scored on a 61-yard reception and had seven catches for 132 yards. Vincent Jackson also had a big day with seven receptions for 108 yards, while the Rams limited rookie Doug Martin to 62 yards rushing on 18 attempts.
Freeman followed one of the worst performances of his career with another clunker. He has thrown eight interceptions in the past two weeks after only having three passes picked off over the previous eight games. Mike Williams slipped to the ground on Jenkins' interception, but the Bucs quarterback tried to force the ball into a crowd in the middle of the field when he was picked off by James Laurinaitis.
Jenkins has scored on three of his four interceptions and has also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Jackson's 5-yard TD run in the closing seconds of the first half finished a 65-yard drive Bradford led after Laurinaitis' interception, and the Rams broke it open with two more TDs in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Kendricks scored on the first play of the second half, grabbing a pass over the middle at his own 40 and rumbled to the end zone untouched with help from receiver Danny Amendola, who shielded safety Mark Barron from making the tackle just before making just enough contact with another converging defender, Ahmad Black, to allow the tight end to cover the final 20 yards to give St. Louis a 21-6 lead.
Three plays later, Freeman was intercepted for the third time, with Trumaine Johnson's pick at the Tampa Bay 30 leading to Bradford's 5-yard TD pass to Austin Pettis that made it 28-6 with 10:47 remaining in the third quarter.
But unlike a week ago when the Bucs didn't seriously threaten to score until the closing seconds, Freeman managed to make this one more interesting.
His TD throw to Williams pulled Tampa Bay within 15 midway through the third quarter. The Bucs continued to move the ball effectively, however the Rams stopped one drive at their 5 and another at the 3 to remain in control.