Return to Sender: Jenkins Makes Rams' History

Posted Nov 25, 2012

GLENDALE, Ariz. – For five weeks, members of the Rams defense and coaching staff have incessantly and consistently lamented the need for some impact plays on their side of the ball.

The theory being, of course, that no matter how many yards you limit your opponent to, it doesn’t mean much if you can’t get an extra possession for the offense.

On Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins finally did something about it and when he did finally give the Rams their first takeaway in five-plus games early in the second quarter, he did it emphatically, returning it 36 yards for a touchdown.

For good measure, Jenkins grabbed another pick off Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley and brought it back 39 yards for a second touchdown. In the process, Jenkins became the first Ram in franchise history to return two interceptions for scores in the same game.

That’s right, in the same year the Rams are celebrating their 75th anniversary, Jenkins became the first to do something just 10 games into his career.

“I am glad I broke it,” Jenkins said. “I feel good but as I said I have got to keep playing. We have got to strive for something better than just turnovers.”

In the process, Jenkins also became the third rookie in NFL history to have two returns for a touchdown in a game and the first since Cleveland’s Bobby Franklin did it in 1960.

Perhaps none of the Rams young players have ridden the rookie rollercoaster more in his first season than Jenkins. Part of that comes naturally with playing a position where you have to have a short memory but the other part is just part of the learning process of adjusting to the NFL.

Jenkins has given up some big plays by getting caught jumping routes and starting into the backfield while a wideout hits a double move down the field. Against Arizona, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Jenkins made some good reads to get his big plays but also made it a point to remind Jenkins he can’t always get away with such instinctive plays, even if they are educated.  

“He recognized things,” Fisher said. “He recognized the formation, he recognized the guys that were in front of him. My first thing was to tell him ‘Hey, you can’t do that again because they are going to go over the top next time.’ Just because you do it once doesn’t mean you can do it the next time.

“Then, the second one, we dodged a bullet. I was concerned because Cort got caught up in the run fake and they had a guy that was wide open on our side but the quarterback didn’t see it, threw it to Jenks and it went the other way. So sometimes, those things happen. You need the bounces and breaks like that.”

The bounces and breaks haven’t much gone the Rams way in recent weeks but Jenkins created some luck for his team with his performance on Sunday.

His first interception tied the game at 7 with the Rams struggling a bit on both sides of the ball. The second came in the third quarter and gave the Rams a comfortable 28-17 lead they would not relinquish.

Jenkins credited the Arizona fans with providing a bit of an assist because he said the crowd naturally reacts when the ball takes flight and he can adjust accordingly.

“The crowd kind of tells you when to turn your head and let you know when the ball is coming,” Jenkins said. “So when the crowd started yelling, I just turned around and saw the ball and made a play on the ball.”

For a defense in desperate need of a big play, that Jenkins provided two was a good sign for the final outcome.

“Great, great game by Janoris,” end Chris Long said. “I am really proud of him, happy for him. When you get one turnover that scores, it changes the winning chances immensely so if you have two, I don’t even know what the statistic is. But when you do it two times, the same player, it’s pretty awesome.”

AMENDOLA PLAYS THROUGH PAIN: Rams receiver Danny Amendola didn’t practice all week and actually spent the bulk of the past seven days in a walking boot on his right foot because of a heel injury he suffered last week against the Jets.

Amendola was listed as doubtful on the injury report but when he went through a pregame workout Sunday morning, he decided along with the coaches and medical staff that he could give it a shot.

“He got out, he got warmed up,” Fisher said. “He was not pain free but he felt like he could go. We talked about it as a staff and we felt like he would not be set back. It doesn’t mean he will probably practice much this week but he couldn’t have a setback and we’ll get him better.”

Amendola wasn’t at full speed, either, and played only about five plays and did not handle his usual punt return duties.

“Yeah, I was just limited third down kind of stuff and anything I could do,” Amendola said.

Amendola did make a big 38-yard diving catch in the second quarter but that was the extent of his production.

Notorious around the Rams locker room for his grit and toughness, Amendola unsurprisingly pushed to play Sunday but did acknowledge that there has to be a fine line for him in playing or not playing.

“Yeah, the coaches do a good job of being smart about it and not overdoing it but at the same time I want to do all I can to help us win,” Amendola said.

BRADFORD’S QUICK RETURN: While Amendola was playing through some pain of his own, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford showed plenty of toughness of his own during a key second quarter sequence.

After taking a hard shot from Arizona linebacker Daryl Washington, Bradford stayed down and then was helped off by the Rams trainers. Kellen Clemens came on for one play in Bradford’s stead.

But Bradford had no intention of prolonging his absence.

“It really wasn’t even that bad,” Bradford said. “I just got the wind knocked out of me. My ribs are a little sore but I knew as soon as I could get back in there, I would. Fortunately, I was able to get in there, get a big third down conversion and then score.”

Indeed, Bradford came back in on third and 10 from the Rams’ 29 and promptly hit wideout Chris Givens for 18 yards and a first down.  Four plays later, Bradford fired a strike to tight end Lance Kendricks for a 37-yard touchdown to knot things up at 14.

Bradford finished eight-of-17 for 205 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a rating of 106.2.

“That’s what he’s about,” Fisher said. “He’s a competitor. He knows what he’s doing. He caught his breath, went in there on third down, completed the ball and kept the drive alive.”

GIVENS GETS 100:  Rookie receiver Givens has had his share of big moments this year including a record-setting streak of games with 50-plus yard catches earlier in the season.

Considering those big plays, it came as a bit of a surprise when Givens’ 115 yards on five catches Sunday was the first 100-yard game of his career. Even Givens himself was caught off guard when informed of the milestone.

“Oh, it is? That’s pretty cool,” Givens said. “I care more about wins and losses than stats but it’s definitely cool to get the first one under my belt.”