Game-changing burst busts Bucs' plans
Any notion the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had of starting the second half of Sunday's game on an aggressive note faded quickly after Michael Koenen boomed a kickoff deep into the end zone for a touchback.
Already leading 14-6, the Rams called the perfect play at the perfect time, exploiting Tampa Bay's focus on stopping running back Steven Jackson.
"It was a good call by them and a bad read by me,'' rookie outside linebacker Lavonte David said. "They came out on play-action and we bit on the run fake. We saw the guard pull and as a linebacker my mentality is to come downhill. I should have looked to the tight end and read that it was a pass.''
By the time David realized his errant read on the first snap after intermission, second-year pro Lance Kendricks was lumbering downfield, finishing off the fourth 80-yard touchdown pass allowed by the Bucs this season.
"It was just a seam route up the middle,'' said Kendricks, who hadn't latched onto a pass of more than 37 yards all year. "After I caught it, I looked and nobody was over there, so I just took off running.''
Safeties Ahmad Black and Mark Barron each had an opportunity to tackle Kendricks short of the south end zone, but wide receiver Danny Amendola helped run interference.
The Rams registered only one first down on their final seven possessions, but had already built a big lead by capitalizing on four interceptions thrown by Josh Freeman.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, offered stout protection most of the afternoon, threw for 196 yards and two scores while Jackson ran for 81 yards in 19 carries.
"It was a breakdown, a miscommunication,'' linebacker Adam Hayward said of Bradford's completion to Kendricks over the middle. "It was a busted coverage, but that was only one play. They kept going three-and-out after that and we had our chances. Maybe we've got to score on defense to help our offense out a little, too.''
The Bucs failed to sack Bradford, but Danny Gorrer provided an early second-period defensive highlight when he picked off a pass intended for Amendola in the right corner of the end zone.
St. Louis scored a defensive touchdown on a Janoris Jenkins interception return and the Rams used picks against Freeman to set up three other scores on a day the Rams were limited to only 54 snaps, compared to 81 for the Bucs.
"That 80-yarder hurt, but we're professionals and we've got to weather the storm,'' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "We're not far off. We just have to find out what's going on. I don't know why we're not getting it done.''
McCoy was asked to characterize the mood of the team after a five-game losing streak. "Is it frustration? Is it anger? I'm not going to say what it is, but it's not what it should be,'' McCoy said. "It's not what we want it to be.''