Stats Don't Tell Story Of Defensive Line
The success of Tampa Bay's defensive line could not be measured by statistics following the 24-3 victory against St. Louis.
Defensive lineman Kevin Carter and Greg Peterson combined for a sack - Tampa Bay's lone sack on Sunday - and the unit recorded three hits on QB Marc Bulger.
However, the defensive line arguably turned in its best all-around performance so far this season.
'Stats aren't everything. Stats didn't win that game,' Greg Spires said. 'Good defense won it and we scored when we had to. Stats didn't win that game. The only thing that won that game was a lot of effort, guys trying to get to the ball and making tackles.'
What Tampa Bay did extremely well was force Bulger into making quick passes. Bulger never took a seven- or eight-step drop and tried to throw down field. Instead, St. Louis showed little faith in its offensive line and Bulger threw quick passes throughout the entire game. His longest completion was 18 yards.
'We knew it wasn't going to be a game where we were going to have a bunch of big stats, unless we happened to make a bunch of plays,' Carter said. 'Sometimes pressure, especially with the talent from the skilled positions, is worth its weight in gold. If you can get pressure on the QB and he throws bad throws ... We had a deep ball today that was thrown not quite on the mark; it got picked off and they had to pay for it. We did what we had to do to win today.'
Piscitelli on crutches
Rookie S Sabby Piscitelli was on crutches in the locker room after Tampa Bay's victory. Piscitelli injured his right foot on a special teams play in the first half and did not return. The official status on his injury is unknown. 'I heard three pops,' Piscitelli said. 'I don't know what is wrong.'
O-line doing fine
RG Davin Joseph and RT Jeremy Trueblood can take pride in knowing they were largely responsible for Tampa Bay's successful running game. RBs Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham and FB Michael Pittman had their biggest gains utilizing the right side blocks from Joseph and Trueblood. As a result, Tampa Bay rushed 32 times for 182 yards and three touchdowns against St. Louis. It was Tampa Bay's highest rushing total since its 187-yard performance against New Orleans on Oct. 8, 2006.
'When they are saying they are going to run to your side, that's a confidence booster,' Trueblood said. 'That is an adrenaline rush, to put it on my shoulders and do what I got to do.'
The offensive line's key performance occurred on Tampa Bay's opening second-half possession. The Bucs moved 53 yards on seven plays, eating up 4:19 and capping the drive with Williams' 7-yard touchdown run, putting them up 10-0. More impressively, Tampa Bay had possession for 9:12 in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
'The offensive line played awesome football today. Physical football. That's what it's all about,' Bucs QB Jeff Garcia said. 'It was great to see that we could just pound the ball, especially in the fourth quarter, and create a sense of advantage, controlling the line of scrimmage and the running backs making big runs.'