Rams vs. Buccaneers: Capitalizing on Key Turnovers Propels Rams to Road Victory

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterDecember 23, 2012

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 23: Cornerback Janoris Jenkins #21 of the St. Louis Rams returns an interception for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Josh Freeman tossed four interceptions and cornerback Leonard Johnson had a fumble of his own as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had five turnovers. It signaled the second week in a row where Tampa Bay gave the ball away five times.

Jeff Fisher's club did everything in their power to put this game away early in the second half, turning Tamp Bay's turnovers into points. Of the St. Louis Rams' 28 points, 21 came off of Freeman's interceptions, and St. Louis scored all four of its touchdowns in the second and third quarter.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins recorded the only defensive touchdown of the game, taking his second-quarter interception back 41 yards for the score. His pick-six was his third of the season.

It was also his fourth defensive touchdown of the season, which moved him into second place for the most touchdowns on the team.

Without a doubt, coach Fisher is pleased that his rookie defensive back has scored four touchdowns, but I'm sure that he is less than impressed that there is only one offensive skill player who has scored more than four offensive touchdowns all season.

In addition to having the second most touchdowns on the team, Jenkins also set a rookie record:

Janoris Jenkins now with a record 4 defensive touchdowns in his rookie season #Impressive

— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) December 23, 2012

Outside of the Rams' four interceptions, they also dominated the line of scrimmage by generating intense pressure on the defensive line. Chris Long, Kendall Langford and William Hayes piled up four sacks between the three of them, and safety Quintin Mikell added a sack of his own on a safety blitz.

Today's game was the second five-sack game St. Louis has had in the last three weeks. Since Week 14, they have accumulated 13 sacks. They now have 46 sacks on the season, which has them in the top five for the most sacks in the NFL.

The Rams are now on pace to finish with 10 more sacks in 2012 than they had in 2011.

Sacks weren't the only type of pressure that had Freeman off his game. Fisher's defense hit No. 5 nine different times as he released the ball.

Offensively, Brian Schottenheimer didn't have things clicking like the defense did, but his group did enough, taking advantage of Tampa Bay's turnovers and converting in the red zone.

Bradford and company were two for two in the red zone and scored touchdowns on both attempts. The Rams' first red zone score came from Steven Jackson and the second one came from Austin Pettis. Pettis' score from five yards out was his third touchdown catch of the year.

The biggest play on the offensive side of the ball came when Sam Bradford hit Lance Kendricks for an 80-yard completion:

Sam launched his longest pass ever at 80 yards. Lance Kendricks went over 100 receiving yards for his first time as a pro.

— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) December 23, 2012

Heading into Week 17, St. Louis now has the opportunity to finish with it's first winning season since 2003.

It won't be the easiest task.

The Rams have to travel to Seattle, where the Seattle Seahawks are currently 6-0. But I can guarantee one thing.

Not many people thought that this organization would be at .500 heading into its last game of the season. Regardless of their record at the end of the season, Fisher has done a remarkable job turning this team into an instant playoff contender in a year's time.


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