ST. LOUIS (AP) -Oshiomogho ``O.J.'' Atogwe picked a perfect time to record his best season as a pro.
Atogwe was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year for the St. Louis Rams, who wrapped up a disappointing 3-13 season with a 48-19 loss at Arizona on Sunday. The free safety, scheduled to become a restricted free agent, started all 16 games and finished with 75 tackles and an NFC-best eight interceptions.
``It's a great honor to lead the NFC in interceptions,'' Atogwe said Monday. ``There are a lot of good players in the NFC. I'm truly blessed.''
Atogwe said he would like to return to St. Louis but his contract situation is not something he is going to worry about in the offseason.
``My job is to come out here and work hard and play,'' he said. ``That all takes care of itself. It's not even a concern of mine. It's not something I stress about because what's going to happen is going to happen.
``I played well this year. I held up to my end of the bargain.''
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Atogwe finished with the most interceptions by a Rams player since Dexter McCleon intercepted eight passes in 2000. The 26-year-old is in his third season out of Stanford.
Atogwe ended his season on a high note in the season finale. He picked off a Kurt Warner pass late in the third quarter and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.
``It was a good game. I made some plays, but we lost, so I don't take a lot of pleasure in it,'' Atogwe said. ``It was my first pick-6 (interception returned for a touchdown) since high school. It was definitely a long time coming. It's something I'll cherish.''
Atogwe was drained because he was still suffering the effects of a stomach virus. He was ill before the game but decided to play.
``I wasn't able to enjoy the touchdown as much because I was feeling so poorly,'' Atogwe said.
While St. Louis struggled through a difficult season, Atogwe played well. He had a four-game interception streak, the first Ram to do that since Anthony Newman in 1991-92.
Atogwe's best game was against Green Bay. He picked off two Brett Favre passes, had four tackles and two passes defensed.
``I mean you're happy you're playing well, but you always will trade individual success for team success,'' Atogwe said. ``There's nothing like playing in January and February. That's what you really remember when it's all said and done.
``To go 3-13 is disappointing. What happened this season is something we don't want to get used to or feel again. But we've got another day so we'll come back next year and see what happens.''
He said he hopes it happens with the Rams.
``I definitely enjoy being here,'' Atogwe said. ``I don't know what my future holds. I'd love to come back here. I'm going to continue to count my blessings.''
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