ST. LOUIS — At least the Bucs tried to protect their quarterback after the game.
As Mike Glennon sat at his locker, he felt the full effects of being slammed to the turf over and over again during a seven-sack mauling by the Rams in Sunday's 23-13 loss. Kevin Elder, the team's physician, leaned over, grabbed Glennon's right wrist and — no exaggeration — took his pulse.
"I'm fine," Glennon said later. "It's the NFL. As a quarterback, sometimes you get hit pretty good. But I'm fine."
That the rookie made it out of the Edward Jones Dome without Rams defensive end Robert Quinn draped on his back like a winter coat is something of a miracle. Quinn had two of his three sacks on the final three plays of the game — giving him a club-record 18 on the season.
Glennon finished 16-of-26 for 158 yards — only 46 yards in the second half — and lost a fumble. On Quinn's second sack, Glennon briefly had the wind knocked out of him.
The Bucs' third loss in four games dropped them to 4-11 heading into next week's season finale at New Orleans.
"You feel for the young man," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said of Glennon. "He's trying to do his job. I know the guys who are trying to protect feel bad, too. Nobody is trying to let that happen. The guys are doing their best; just not good enough today."
Left tackle Donald Penn, who at times had help from running backs and tight ends to block Quinn, took responsibility.
"It's tough," Penn said. "That ain't me out there. It's real frustrating. I let the team down."
The Bucs' anemic offense drove 85 yards on their second possession, capped by Bobby Rainey's 1-yard touchdown run, to take a 7-0 lead. That represented half of the 170 yards Tampa Bay produced Sunday.
Because of another solid performance by their defense, the Bucs managed to trail only 20-13 in the fourth quarter. But Glennon was sacked and fumbled on third and 3 from his 46 and the Rams recovered with 9:07 left.
In fact, Glennon has now been sacked 21 times over the past five games, a stretch in which the offense has produce 229, 206, 246, 183 and 170 yards. Schiano said the Bucs planned to use running backs, tight ends and receivers to block Quinn, but nothing seemed to work.
"I'm anxious to watch the tape because I want to see — with some of the things we had in place — how the heck they didn't slow them down more than they did," Schiano said. "I mean I didn't expect (Glennon) to stand back there for 3½ seconds. That's not going to happen with those guys. But I didn't expect to be there two seconds either. We've got to find out why."
The Bucs did make one change on the offensive line, yanking Jamon Meredith at left guard for Ted Larsen in the second quarter.
It's not as if the Bucs gave Glennon any help. Rainey rushed for 37 yards on 20 carries (1.9-yard average). He also lost a fumble early in the second quarter. And one play later, receiver Stedman Bailey took a handoff on a double reverse and raced 27 yards around left end for a touchdown and 14-7 Rams lead.
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The Bucs defense did its best to keep the game within reach. It forced two fumbles, one on a quarterback draw by Kellen Clemens in the second quarter on third and goal from the 2.
But the Bucs offense was simply no match for the Rams' bookends of Quinn and Chris Long, who also had a sack.
"Give them credit," Glennon said. "Obviously, it was a real physical day. But that's probably one of the best front fours and possibly the best duo of defensive ends in the NFL."
Schiano was asked how he thought his rookie quarterback played.
"I don't even know how you judge," he said. "I'm not being sarcastic. But I thought when he had the opportunity to throw, he threw it very well. I felt very good going into this game. I thought Mike was dialed in, and he was. I mean, he was really zipping the ball, and he knew where to go with it. But it's really hard with that situation. It's tough for a quarterback."
At least one that still has a pulse.