He was the unheralded college teammate of Tavon Austin selected 84 picks after him in the third round of this year's draft, but for Stedman Bailey, his first NFL touchdown couldn't have come at a better time.
(KSDK Sports) -- He was the unheralded college teammate of Tavon Austin selected 84 picks after him in the third round of this year's draft, but for Stedman Bailey, his first NFL touchdown couldn't have come at a better time. With Austin, his St. Louis Rams teammate, inactive this past Sunday because of an ankle injury, Bailey celebrated Christmas early with a 27-yard run on a double reverse that jump-started the Rams to a 23-13 victory over the Buccaneers.
The Bucs were off a to a good start after running back Bobby Rainey gave them a 7-0 lead capping an 85-yard drive on a 1-yard run with 6:31 left in the first quarter.
The Rams tied the game at seven 7:43 later on running back Zac Stacy's 1-yard run that finished an 80-yard drive.
The game immediately turned in the Rams' favor after a Rainey reception gained four yards to the Bucs' 30-yard line on third down. That turned out to be the Bucs' last third-down conversion of the game. On first down, Rainey fumbled on a hit by linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive end William Hayes recovered for the Rams at the 27.
On first down, quarterback Kellen Clemens handed the ball to wide receiver Chris Givens, who was coming from left to right. Givens then pitched the ball to Bailey (coming from left to right), who caught the ball at the 37, turned the corner two yards later, and admitted, "My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree knowing that was going to be my first touchdown.
"It was so wide open, I was kind of jogging. I felt I could have walked in. The defense never knew what was happening. It was executed very well. It was a great call in a perfect situation."
Givens said he could tell the play was going to work. He said, "I focused on the pitch, turned around and watched, and I saw how the whole defense was flowing. I knew it was going to be a big play."
Clemens was part of the convoy that included left tackle Rodger Saffold, right tackle Joe Barksdale and tight end Cory Harkey.
Line coach Paul Boudreau joked, "All Stedman had to do was make sure not to trip over Kellen."
Clemens laughingly said, "I would like to take credit as the guy that sprung him, but it was such a great call and schemed up so well there was nobody there. The coaching point for me when we installed it on Wednesday was maybe get in someone's way other than Stedman. I just had to get out of the way."
Saffold said, "I had to go up to him afterward and say, 'Why did you jump for nothing? You just wanted to jump didn't you?' He said, 'Yeah, I just wanted to jump.'" Probably for "TV time," Saffold added.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged that coming right after a turnover was the perfect time for a play the Rams had never run before and Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy reluctantly agreed.
He said, "That was smart. Coach Fisher; he'll try anything. They have nothing to lose, so they're going for it all. After a sudden change, you've got to expect either a shot to the end zone or a trick play. We've been trained on that since we got in the league."
But not trained enough to stop it. The touchdown gave the Rams a 14-7 lead, and while the Bucs hung close for the rest of the game, the Rams never relinquished the lead.
Howard Balzer will be contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 NFL season. Howard hosts "H and Friends" Monday-Friday from 9-11 on Fox Sports 1490 The Champ. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL Radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame