Bradford taking the hits for Rams

ST. LOUIS (AP) Sam Bradford has never cared much for numbers and statistics.

So the St. Louis Rams quarterback was surprised to find out he has been sacked in 30 successive games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

“That’s great to know, thanks,” he chuckled.

Bradford, the top overall pick in the 2010 draft, has endured his share of bumps and bruises this season, having been sacked 35 times to tie the Bears’ Jay Cutler for fifth highest in the NFL. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has gone down a league-high 45 times.

On Sunday, Bradford was sacked four times for 32 yards in a 36-22 loss to Minnesota that all but eliminated the Rams from postseason contention.

The last time the Oklahoma product escaped a game unscathed was Nov. 21, 2010, in a 34-17 loss to Atlanta.

The sack string doesn’t bother Bradford, although he would obviously like to see it end as soon as possible. The Rams (6-7-1) close the season on the road at Tampa and Seattle.

“When you don’t get sacked in a game that means that the protection is good, that the ball came out quick,” he said. “It’s a team effort to eliminate sacks. And that’s something we work for each week. If we can get through these next two games with no sacks; that would be awesome.”

Bradford was trapped by Minnesota lineman Brian Robison on his second pass attempt Sunday. He was also sacked twice in the same series in the second quarter.

Bradford rebounded nicely in the second half, hitting on 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards, one of his best two-quarter performances of the season. He was sacked only once over the final two quarters and finished the game with a career-high 377 yards passing.

Bradford, 25, shoulders much of the blame for the sacks, partly in an effort to deflect criticism from his offensive line.

Although Bradford wasn’t aware of his dubious sacks string, several of his offensive linemen were. Tackle Rodger Saffold says the line would like nothing better than to help Bradford record a clean sheet in each of the last two games.

“Overall, I think we’ve done a pretty job of protecting him,” Saffold said. “It would be, like, just one sack here and that would ruin it.”

Bradford was sacked only once in three games this season, all of them coming in the first half. The Rams won two of those games.

“It’s always been the goal to hold down the (sacks),” Saffold said. “We’ll just keep trying and see how it goes.”

Protecting Bradford will be especially important against Tampa, ranked last in the league in pass defense.

The Rams are all but assured of missing the playoffs for the eighth year in a row thanks to the loss to Minnesota. Still, there is a lot to play for over the final two weeks.

For instance, running back Steven Jackson is 91 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth successive season.

“We’re still talking about working hard and improving every day, trying to finish things up strong,” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said.