Tampa Bay Buccaneers losing streak reaches 5 in loss to St. Louis Rams
Rams 28, Buccaneers 13
7:19 PM, Dec 23, 2012
1:42 AM, Dec 24, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is worried about more than struggling quarterback Josh Freeman.
"As a coach, when you don't win and turn the ball over, you're concerned about everything," Schiano said after the Bucs lost their fifth straight game, 28-13 to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
"I'm paid to win games, and we've lost five straight," Schiano added. "So yeah, I'm concerned. But it's just not about Josh Freeman. It starts with Greg Schiano and goes all the way through the organization. I'm concerned because we haven't been able to get it done and I'm the head coach. So I've got to keep going back and looking at it."
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.
"Not depressing ... definitely frustrating," Freeman said. "You want to win for your whole team. I've got to take the blame as the quarterback."
Tampa Bay (6-9) turned the ball over five times and was stopped on downs twice inside the Rams 10. The Bucs also had five turnovers the previous week in a 41-0 loss at New Orleans.
"Collectively, we're not where we want to be," Tampa Bay safety Ronde Barber said. "Clearly out of the playoff picture."
Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season, helping the Rams keep their hopes for a winning record alive.
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 Freeman four times, turning three of the turnovers into TDs, including Jenkins' interception 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.
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.
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.
"St. Louis took advantage of their opportunities, and we had a lot of missed opportunities," Schiano said. "We had plenty of chances to win the game."
Williams slipped to the ground on Jenkins' interception, but Freeman 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.
Amendola 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.
"We will get it straightened out," Schiano said.
Notes: Tampa Bay went 0 for 3 in the red zone. ... The Bucs didn't have a sack, but allowed five to the Rams. ... Tampa Bay had the ball for 35:59, compared to the Rams 24:01.