The Buccaneers seemed determined to establish Doug Martin and the running attack at the beginning of Sunday’s game against the Rams but, as that had mixed results, ended up dropping back to throw the ball on 20 of their 33 first-half plays. And when Josh Freeman did drop back to throw, he was looking for Vincent Jackson more often than not.
The Bucs’ top receiver was targeted on seven of Freeman’s 17 throws before the break (three of the 20 passing plays resulted in sacks), leading to four receptions for 45 yards. Jackson made several impressive grabs, including a 19-yarder over the middle that converted a third-down try on the game’s opening possession, putting the ball into St. Louis territory and leading to a Connor Barth field goal. He also held on to a 10-yard catch despite taking a huge at the Rams’ seven-yard line, setting up a first-and-goal that the Bucs were unable to convert into a touchdown thanks largely to a false start on the next play.
In the process of making those four receptions, Jackson pushed his career total to 6,025 receiving yards. He is now one of just 20 active players in the NFL with at least 6,000 receiving yards, ranking just behind Deion Branch and Greg Jennings.
Jackson’s 45 receiving yards in the first half gave him 1,271 on the season, and that is already the third-highest total in franchise history. Jackson started the game fifth on that chart but passed Antonio Bryant’s 1,248 in 2008 and Keyshawn Johnson’s 1,266 in 2001.