NFL: Jenkins returns 2 picks for TDs, Rams win 31-17
Glendale, Ariz. • No NFL rookie since 1960 and no Rams rookie ever accomplished what cornerback Janoris Jenkins did on Sunday.
The second-round draft pick with off-the-field issues through his college career returned two interceptions for touchdowns and St. Louis dominated the second half to hand the Arizona Cardinals their seventh loss in a row, 31-17 on Sunday.
Arizona rookie Ryan Lindley was intercepted four times in his first NFL start.
Jenkins' returns of 36 and 39 yards emphatically ended the Rams' streak of five straight games without an opponent turnover. The talented defender had slipped to the second round for the Rams after he was booted from the Florida team following a pair of marijuana-related incidents and finished his career at North Alabama.
All that was just history on this big day.
Sam Bradford had a pair of 37-yard touchdown passes to Lance Kendricks and Chris Givens for the Rams (4-6-1), who snapped a five-game winless streak and beat Arizona (4-7) for the second time this season.
The Rams' Steven Jackson rushed for 139 yards in 24 carries.
St. Louis outscored Arizona 17-0 in the second half.
Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State and the third quarterback to start for Arizona this season, completed 31 of 52 for 312 yards and no touchdowns. Beanie Wells, back after missing seven games with a turf toe injury, had TD runs of 1 and 12 yards for the Cardinals.
Arizona led 17-14 at the half on Jay Feely's 32-yard field goal as the second quarter ended.
The third quarter, though, belonged to the Rams.
With St. Louis pinned at its 8-yard line, Jackson ran 46 yards, doubling his previous longest gain of the season. Two plays later, Givens beat rookie Justin Bethel down the left sideline for a 37-yard scoring reception to give the Rams their first lead, 21-17, with 9:58 left in the quarter.
The Rams threatened to extend the lead when Lindley threw right into the hands of linebacker Harvey Dahl, who returned it 38 yards to the Arizona 12. But after a holding penalty, Greg Zuerlein's 35-yard field goal try was wide left.
The Cardinals weren't so fortunate on Lindley's next bad pass. The rookie had Larry Fitzgerald open but underthrew him by 10 yards. Jenkins caught it and in a play almost identical to his earlier TD, raced down the right sideline for the score that made it 28-17.
Arizona scored with a long, time-consuming drive on its first possession.
With Lindley throwing short passes over the middle, the Cardinals went 91 yards in 15 plays on their first possession, using up 8:55 of the first quarter. He was 7 of 8 for 80 yards on the drive, which stayed alive thanks to a late hit penalty against St. Louis safety Quintin Mikell.
On the first play of the second quarter, Jenkins read Lindley's throw, stepped in front of intended receiver LaRod Stephens-Howling, intercepted the pass and ran untouched 36 yards to the end zone to tie it at 7-7.
Danny Amondola, who played despite a foot injury that prevented him from practicing all week, made a diving grab of Bradford's 38-yard pass to the Arizona 19 on St. Louis' next possession and two runs by Jackson put the ball on the Arizona 7. But Patrick Peterson picked off Bradford's pass over the middle in the end zone to end the threat.
Lindley's 25-yard pass to Rob Housler and Andre Roberts' 13-yard run set up Wells' 12-yard scoring run that put Arizona back on top 14-7.
The Rams tied it 14-all when Bradford threw over the middle to the wide open tight end Kendricks, who rumbled into the end zone on a 37-yard scoring play with 1:53 left in the half.
St. Louis 31, Arizona 17
St. Louis 0 14 14 3 31
Arizona 7 10 0 0 17
Ari • Wells 1 run (Feely kick), 2:41.
StL • Jenkins 36 interception return (Zuerlein kick), 14:52.
Ari • Wells 12 run (Feely kick), 7:52.
StL • Kendricks 37 pass from Bradford (Zuerlein kick), 1:53.
Ari • FG Feely 32, :00.
StL • Givens 37 pass from Bradford (Zuerlein kick), 9:58.
StL • Jenkins 39 interception return (Zuerlein kick), 2:28.
StL • FG Zuerlein 19, 5:27.
Attendance • 60,062.
First downs 15 24
Total Net Yards 367 375
Rushes-yards 34-173 23-74
Passing 194 301
Punt Returns 4-18 4-59
Kickoff Returns 1-31 3-68
Interceptions Ret. 4-131 1-0
Comp-Att-Int 8-18-1 31-52-4
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-11 2-11
Punts 6-43.3 6-48.2
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 10-84 7-56
Time of Possession 28:09 31:51
Rushing • St. Louis, Jackson 24-139, D.Richardson 7-32, Bradford 2-1, Givens 1-1. Arizona, Wells 17-48, Roberts 1-13, Powell 3-11, Lindley 1-1, Stephens-Howling 1-1.
Passing • St. Louis, Bradford 8-17-1-205, Clemens 0-1-0-0. Arizona, Lindley 31-52-4-312.
Receiving • St. Louis, Givens 5-115, Amendola 1-38, Kendricks 1-37, Mulligan 1-15. Arizona, Roberts 9-92, Housler 8-82, Powell 6-63, Floyd 4-35, Fitzgerald 3-31, King 1-9.
Missed Field Goals • St. Louis, Zuerlein 35 (WL).