ST. LOUIS -- Robert Quinn walked into his postgame news conference Sunday with a smile on his face and a game ball tucked under his arm.
Chris Long has dubbed him Black Lightning. But the Terminator might work as well. On a day when Tampa Bay refused to go quietly, Quinn closed out the Buccaneers in record-setting fashion in the Rams' 23-13 victory.
The third-year defensive end sacked Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon on fourth and 10 from the Tampa 36 on the first play after the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter. That tied Kevin Carter's franchise record of 17 sacks set in 1999 during the Rams' Super Bowl championship season.
Tampa Bay got the ball back with 45 seconds left on the clock, but on third down Quinn dropped Glennon again, on the final play of the game.
It was Quinn's way of saying:Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
The Rams thus improved to 7-8, matching their victory total of a year ago. Tampa Bay, which had won four of its previous six games, fell to 4-11.
Quinn's third sack of the day gave him 18 for the season and a franchise record.
"What can you say about Rob?" coach Jeff Fisher said. "Very impressive when you take into consideration the history of the organization -- and the defensive linemen, the pass rushers, and the Fearsome Foursome, all of that stuff. For him to set the single-season franchise sack record was pretty impressive. Happy for him."
Yes, the late, great Deacon Jones had 22 sacks in both 1964 and '68. Another Hall of Famer, Jack Youngblood, put up 18 in 1979. But sacks weren't an official NFL stat until 1982, so Quinn has the franchise record.
"Kevin Carter was a great player," Quinn said. "Getting 17 sacks is tough. To be able to top that is even tougher. I can't do it by myself. ... So a lot of credit goes to my 'D-line' and defense to help me get to that number. Like I keep saying, the man upstairs has been great. So I can't ask for anything more."
Thanks to defensive line teammates Long and William Hayes, Quinn was given the hero's treatment at the end of the game by getting carried off the field.
"Just after I finished my (on-the-field) interview, I saw Chris and Will walking back out," Quinn said. "I was looking at them, and they hoisted me off. ... I was just hoping I didn't get dropped. I started wobbling a little bit."
The Rams wobbled a bit after taking a 14-7 lead on second-quarter touchdown runs by Zac Stacy and Stedman Bailey. Stacy's 1-yard leap across the goal line tied the score at 7-7 just 72 seconds into the second quarter.
Four plays into Tampa's ensuing possession, rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree had the first of his two forced fumbles. This one was recovered by Hayes, and the Rams took over at the Tampa Bay 27.
On the very next play, the Rams snookered the Buccaneers' fast-flowing defense with a double reverse. Quarterback Kellen Clemens handed off to wide receiver Chris Givens running right on an end-around. But Givens didn't run for long, short-tossing the ball to wide receiver Bailey running an end-around to his left.
"I haven't really seen a double reverse in quite a while," Bailey said. "But it worked out very good. Coach Schotty (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) dialed it up at the right time and it was executed perfectly."
According to Bailey, the Rams hadn't even practiced the double reverse until this past week.
"It worked pretty good in practice," Bailey said. "I was kind of curious on how it would work out in the game, and it was wide open."
Basically the entire Bucs defense flowed toward Givens. Bailey got some downfield blocking help from Cory Harkey, among others, but saw nothing but green until he got to the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
Just when it looked like the Rams were putting a stranglehold on the game, they lost fumbles on their final two possessions of the half. The most costly one came on a QB draw by Clemens on third and goal from the Tampa Bay 2.
"That was an error on my part," Clemens said. "I'm not a guy that's gonna create holes. Once it wasn't there I should've just fallen down and taken the field goal."
Instead of the Rams being up 21-7, the score remained 14-7 after the turnover. And when Stacy fumbled for the first time as an NFL player, Tampa converted that into a field goal at the end of the half. As a team, the Rams hadn't lost a fumble since Nov. 10 at Indianapolis.
Another Rian Lindell field goal early in the third quarter shaved the St. Louis lead to a mere 14-13.
But the Rams were able to scratch out three field goals by Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein from there on out, including a season-long 54-yarder.
With 104 yards rushing, Stacy finished the day 42 yards shy of 1,000. He needed 33 carries to reach the century mark Sunday.
"It was very tough," Stacy said. "Tampa Bay, they have a great defense. We had to get those tough yards. We knew in the running back room that every yard was going to count."
As the clock wound down and the Rams slowly padded their lead with Zuerlein field goals, the Bucs were forced to open up their offense, and that's where Quinn and the Rams' pass rush showed their stuff. The Rams matched their season high with seven sacks, and four of those seven came in the final nine minutes of the game.
"Our defense has done a great job over the last few weeks of getting us turnovers, getting us the short field," Clemens said. "And then once we can get a little bit of a lead, we turn those two "war daddies" loose off the edges and the opposing quarterbacks are in trouble."
The "war daddies" being Quinn and Long (who had a sack as well Sunday). Long, by the way, said carrying Quinn off the field was the Rams' way -- or at least Long and Hayes' way -- of saying Quinn deserves to be NFL defensive MVP.
"In our book," Long said. "We just don't carry anybody off the field. We just don't carry any jackwagon off the field. This guy's something else."
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