Rams' Quinn states case for Defensive Player of Year

Robert Quinn struck again in the St. Louis Rams' 23-13 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, adding another batch of highlights to help his case as a candidate for the NFL's defensive player of the year award.

Robert Quinn celebrates with teammate Chris Long, who carried the dominant defensive end off the field after the game. Quinn's three sacks gave him 18 for the season -- a team record and first in the NFL.

Jeff Curry / USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS -- Donald Penn shook his head.

"I'm disappointed, man," the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' left tackle said. "This has been a rough year for me, up and down. I've been fighting and fighting and then today ...."

Penn shook his head again.

"I really went into this game today thinking I was going to really have a dominant performance," he continued. "It started off great for three quarters. Then the end is just ...."

Penn shook his head again.

He's going against two or three guys at one point in time and he's still winning. He's special. We don't run across people like that. Not since I've been in the NFL. I haven't seen nobody close to him.

-- William Hayes

"I have to figure out how to do something when I know the chip's going," he said. "I have to figure out to stay inside-out so when he does get knocked inside I can run by him, because a couple times he got knocked right into Mike (Glennon) when Mike was stepping up. He's a good player. You can't take that from him. It's tough. That ain't me out there. It's just real frustrating. I let the team down today."

Robert Quinn struck again in the Rams' 23-13 win against the Buccaneers on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, adding another batch of highlights to help make his case for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award.

The Rams' defensive end wreaked havoc on the Buccaneers' offense, running around and through Tampa Bay's left tackle and whatever double- or triple-team the Bucs threw at him.

Quinn couldn't be stopped. He still sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon three times -- including a pair to end the Bucs' final two possessions -- giving him a team-record 18 on the season as the Rams turned in another dominating defensive effort in front of a crowd of 54,423.

"I had a good game plan going in there and we executed early," Penn said. "Late he adjusted and I didn't. It got bad and ugly."

Penn shook his head once more.
 
In the other locker room, Quinn's teammates tried to find new ways to tell a familiar tale. They've seen this movie before, of course.
 
They saw it a week earlier when the third-year defensive end recorded two sacks and forced and recovered a fumble in a 27-16 upset win against the visiting New Orleans Saints.
 
They saw it Week 1 when he had three sacks and two forced fumbles against the Cardinals. And when he had three sacks against the Seahawks on "Monday Night Football." And when he had two sacks and forced a fumble in a win at Indianapolis.
 
Quinn has left a trail of victims scattered throughout the NFL, from Carson Palmer to Matt Ryan to Colin Kaepernick to T.J. Yates to Cam Newton to Russell Wilson to Andrew Luck to Josh McCown to Drew Brees to Glennon.
 
He's left plenty of left tackles shaking their heads, too. The Saints replaced their veteran left tackle, Charles Brown, in the game last week and then replaced him in the starting lineup this week.
 
Donald Penn might need therapy.
 
Quinn is making a lot of people look bad this season, including some of the teams that passed on him in the loaded 2011 NFL Draft.
 
If you add up the numbers, the ridiculous and beautiful numbers, Quinn now leads the NFL with his 18 sacks -- he passed Colts linebacker Robert Mathis, who has 16.5 -- and is tied with Mathis for the league lead with seven forced fumbles.
 
"If you want to ask me, I think he's the best player in football right now," Rams defensive end William Hayes said. " ... The guy is special, man. I've never seen nothing like it before, and I've played with good football players from Kyle Vanden Bosch to Jevon Kearse. It's not even close."
 
Hayes is now in his seventh season in the NFL, his second in St. Louis after four years in Tennessee.
 
"You think about Rob, man, they are trying to do everything possible to try to block him. Chips. Running backs. Tight ends," Hayes said. "I mean, he's beating you any way he possibly can. You had the tackle out there complaining because he wasn't getting enough help. He's going against two or three guys at one point in time and he's still winning. He's special. We don't run across people like that. Not since I've been in the NFL. I haven't seen nobody close to him."
 
During pregame introduction, Hayes used a makeshift sword to "knight" Quinn, tapping him on each shoulder before the North Carolina product sprinted onto the field drowned in cheers.
 
After the game, Hayes and defensive end Chris Long made it a point to carry Quinn off the field on their shoulders.
 
The fans chanted "M-V-P."

"We don't just carry anybody off the field," Long said. "We don't just carry any jack-wagon off the field. This guy's like ... this guy's something else."

Quinn, stading nearby, smiled.

"Talk bad about me, Chris," he said.

"I can't talk bad," Long said. "There's nothing bad to say. He deserves it. He might not win it, Defensive Player of the Year, but shoot, what else do you want him to do on a team that's 7-8 at this point and doesn't play with a bunch of leads? There are guys that have been playing with leads all year and can't even sniff that."
 
He was then asked if he'd ever carried somebody off the field before.

"I've never played with the Defensive Player of the Year before," Long said.
 
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.