Sapp's ultimate sack? Selmon's mark
The defensive tackle is taking aim at the league lead and the Hall-of-Famer.
Warren Sapp isn't just running down quarterbacks, he's chasing Lee Roy Selmon.
The Bucs defensive tackle, who boldly predicted he would lead the NFL in sacks this season, is beginning to look like a sage.
Sapp recorded a franchise record 3 1/2 sacks among his seven tackles Sunday, accounting for 29 yards in losses in the Bucs' 19-5 win over the Eagles.
The performance was reminiscent of Selmon, whose club record of 13 sacks that has stood since 1977 looks to be in jeopardy.
Sapp already has 4 1/2 sacks, more than half of his production a year ago when he dumped opposing quarterbacks just seven times in 16 games.
"That was my whole goal, coming in and losing 40 pounds, was to stand on top of the sack title," Sapp said. "I've got some pretty good people around me that are going to help me climb this ladder. Hey, if someone on this team (doesn't) beat me to it, I'm on my way. I'm going to see if I can keep Chidi (Ahanotu) and them at bay."
Judging from the Bucs' nine-sack performance against the Eagles - just one shy of a club single-game record - Sapp might have company from his teammates atop the league list.
Ahanotu and fellow defensive end Marcus Jones each had two sacks Sunday while tackle Brad Culpepper was credited with 1 1/2.
"That's what we're out there to do," Ahanotu said. "We feel we're the best defensive line in the league. That's how we go out. We're trying to make history every time we go out there. It's just a testimony to what we do every week."
Jones, the former No. 1 pick, has picked his career off the scrapheap. Until Sunday, he had recorded one sack in three seasons. But he doubled his pleasure in a reserve role, filling in for Ahanotu and right defensive end Steve White. "It's almost like a race," Jones said. "You want to be that guy to make the sack. You want to make that play. To see somebody else do it, you want to do it even harder. People always say hard work pays off and it really does. You can't look to other people for support, you've got to look within yourself and just keep at it."
Nobody had more fun than Sapp, who danced and pranced over fallen quarterbacks Doug Pederson and rookie Donovan McNabb.
While the Bucs have fared well against teams using the West Coast offense because of their man-to-man blocking schemes, Sapp said he knew he would find himself mostly double-teamed.
"We knew they were going to slide to me," said Sapp. "I had a rookie and I had Jeff Dellenbach. They were going to slide. They weren't going to just let me take over the game. But in certain instances in the West Coast offense, they have to get me one-on-one and I took advantage of them. I created some matchups for my teammates and we all came home today. We bagged a bunch."
That sack-happy Bucs defense bailed out another suspect performance by the passing game and quarterback Trent Dilfer. But Sapp was happy to help out.
"Sometimes, your best isn't good enough," Sapp said. "You've got to do what's required to get the win. The offense did a good job for us today. They gave us a 14-point lead. Once I looked up and saw that, I was like, 'They've got to throw this ball to get back in the game.' I left a couple out there, but it's just one of those things. Hey, you bag some, you miss some. It's all about the hunt."
Rick Stroud , The St.Petersburg Times 1999