Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Josh Freeman's four picks help Bucs lose fifth straight, 28-13 to Rams

TAMPA — They crowded against the railing near the tunnel to the Bucs locker room, hoping a glove, hat or sweatband would be tossed their direction by players after Sunday's game.

But not every fan in that scrum was looking for a free souvenir.

Some were more into the giving spirit, hurling insults directly at Josh Freeman.

For the second game in a row, the Bucs quarterback threw four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in a 28-13 loss to the Rams.

The offense also was stopped twice on fourth down inside the Rams 10 in the fourth quarter. And for good measure, the defense allowed an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half.

This is how the 2012 home finale ended: a fifth straight loss — guaranteeing a losing record (6-9) and fifth consecutive season without a playoff appearance — and the Bucs tied with Carolina in the cellar of the NFC South.

Every exclamation point for the Bucs five weeks ago has been replaced with a question mark. None bigger than Freeman.

His eight interceptions over the past two games are as many as he threw over the first 13.

"When he makes those plays, they're spectacular. Everybody is like, 'Wow! What a great play!' " Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "When he doesn't, now he's forcing it. We're in a results-driven business, and when it works, it's a great play. Then when it doesn't work: Is he pressing? Is he trying too hard? It's somewhere in between."

Freeman was left to rattle off his picks like Santa calling reindeer.

• On an inside comeback, Mike Williams slipped, allowing cornerback Janoris Jenkins to make an easy interception and return it 41 yards for a second-quarter touchdown that gave the Rams (7-7-1) a 7-3 lead.

• On a second-quarter pass to Vincent Jackson in the slot, linebacker James Laurinaitis dropped into a zone and got his head around in time.

• With the Bucs trailing 21-6 in the third, Williams allowed cornerback Trumaine Johnson to undercut his route.

• Tackle Michael Brockers tipped a fourth-quarter pass at the line of scrimmage, and end Eugene Sims caught the popup.

"I'm the quarterback," Freeman said. "You've got to put it on me. And I just have to find a way to limit those. When you have a team like us, who have been in a bit of a rut, you can't make those mistakes that cost you."

Freeman finished 30-of-54 for 372 yards and a touchdown. He also was sacked five times and hit on nine other occasions.

He was stopped for no gain on fourth and 1 at the Rams 5 after trying to rush his team to the line of scrimmage for a sneak. But officials were slow in placing the ball, giving the Rams time to line up.

"I blame myself," Schiano said. "I should've called a timeout."

The Bucs held a huge advantage in yards (429-285) and time of possession (35:59-24:01). But Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was efficient in passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

The biggest strike was an 80-yarder to tight end Lance Kendricks on the first play of the second half to make it 21-6. Linebacker Lavonte David bit on play-action, leaving the middle of the field open.

"That was a shame," Schianio said. "Without getting into guys and things, it was a mistake; a valuable lesson learned."

Meanwhile, the Bucs defense failed to take advantage of its opportunities. Cornerback Leonard Johnson caused a first-quarter fumble when he hit receiver Danny Amendola. But after scooping up the loose ball at the St. Louis 17, Johnson fumbled it back at the 5.

Afterward, Bucs players talked about what a great week of practice they had following last week's 41-0 shellacking by the Saints. But at least one player wasn't having any of that.

"It doesn't matter what you do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. It's all about Sunday," defensive end Michael Bennett said. "You've got to get everybody on the team to understand that. The games are won on Sunday. You've got to come out and put your best foot forward and game up. This is a competitive league."

Schiano realizes his pleas for patience might be wearing thin.

"Right now, I'm not going to get into where we stack up," he said.

"I do say this to our fans: We have good players in this program. And we're going to get more, and we're moving forward."

Sackless vs. St. Louis

For only the second time in his career, the Rams' Sam Bradford was not sacked Sunday. In 41 games over three seasons, he has been taken down 92 times (2.2 per game). His other sackless game came Nov. 21, 2010, a 34-17 loss to the Falcons. Meanwhile, the Bucs remained at 25 sacks for the season, third fewest in the league.

Josh Freeman's four picks help Bucs lose fifth straight, 28-13 to Rams 12/23/12 [Last modified: Sunday, December 23, 2012 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs roundtable: Time for another kicking panic?


    Five days after the beleaguered Roberto Aguayo got cut after missing a PAT and a field goal, new Bucs kicker Nick Folk had a PAT blocked and missed a field goal.

  2. The Bloomingdale's that a Ruth baseball built

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — A treasure, possibly worth half a million dollars, could lie behind a granite slab at the base of the Bloomingdale's flagship store in Manhattan in New York City, just a few feet from a window displaying designer handbags: a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

    According to reports from 1930, this cornerstone of Bloomingdale's flagship store in New York City could have a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and other items entombed with instructions not to open for 200 years. The Ruth ball, if there and in good condition, could be worth a record $500,000. [ New York Times]
  3. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  4. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  5. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.