WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL
The Rams built up an early lead over the Chargers thanks to Bradford’s long touchdown pass to Danario Alexander in the first quarter, as well as a 39-yard field goal by Josh Brown and a seven-yard touchdown run from Jackson. However, the club struggled to point up points in the second half, managing only a 48- yard boot from Brown. Jackson (507 rushing yards) is showing no signs of a sore groin that hampered him earlier in the year, and the Pro Bowl back managed just his second touchdown run in his last 10 games dating back to last season. He also turned in a second straight 100-yard rushing game to pace a Rams ground attack that ranks 17th in the NFL at 104.3 yards per game. Bradford (1357 passing yards, 7 TD, 8 INT) played mistake-free on Sunday as he continues to show maturity. The Oklahoma product completed 18-of-31 pass attempts and was sacked three times, turning in a personal-best 87.8 quarterback rating. Alexander led the team with four catches and 72 yards in his NFL debut after he earned a promotion from the practice squad because of Mark Clayton’s season-ending knee injury. Tight end Billy Bajema and receivers Brandon Gibson (11 receptions, 1 TD) and Danny Amendola (36 receptions) all finished with three catches last week. St. Louis still needs to score more, as it ranks 28th in the league with an average of 17.2 points per game.
The Buccaneers rank 31st in the league in rushing defense (157.0 ypg) and 21st in points allowed (22.2 ppg), and both of those weaknesses were exposed last weekend by the Saints. New Orleans posted 475 yards of offense, including 212 on the ground, while Saints quarterback Drew Brees saw two of this three touchdown passes go for longer than 40 yards. Safety Cody Grimm (24 tackles, 2 INT) did record an interception for a second straight game, but little else went right for the secondary. Tampa Bay’s defensive line, led by ends Kyle Moore (12 tackles) and Stylez G. White (15 tackles, 1 sack), will need to clog the running lanes for Jackson, while middle linebacker and leading tackler Barrett Ruud (36 tackles) will aim to prevent the Rams back from breaking a big run. Pressure up front on the rookie Bradford could benefit the secondary and allow corners Aqib Talib (12 tackles, 3 INT) and Ronde Barber (31 tackles, 2 INT) to make some plays. Barber and safety Sean Jones (22 tackles) had eight tackles each last week, but the Bucs failed to record a sack and have just four quarterback takedowns on the season. Grimm and linebacker Quincy Black both forced fumbles, but the Saints recovered both.