Defensive Line Prove Unblockable
The Tampa Tribune, published 13 October 2003

Perhaps the Redskins should have asked President Bush for some spare bodyguards. Running over, around and through a variety of over- matched blockers, Simeon Rice doubled his season total to eight sacks Sunday with a career-best four in a 35-13 triumph. Warren Sapp added a pair of sacks and fellow defensive tackle Anthony McFarland collapsed the pocket consistently as the Bucs atoned for Monday night's fourth-quarter collapse against the Colts.

``We wanted to put this game on our shoulders and we did,'' said Rice, who tied the franchise single-game sack record set by Marcus Jones against Detroit on Oct. 19, 2000. ``Last week was kind of an aberration. We had a lot of busted coverages and we didn't put enough pressure on Peyton Manning.''

The Redskins tried to help left tackle Chris Samuels, but Rice displayed his full repertoire of moves against tight ends and helpless running backs whose chip blocks proved futile. ``Simeon simply began taking the game over,'' defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. ``It was a long week for our defense after the Indianapolis loss, but Sim really dominated today.''

Sapp is thankful for Rice's presence at right end, where his 6-foot-5 frame, exemplary work habits and remarkable athleticism have led to 31.5 sacks in his past 27 games. ``Sim's just a freak,'' Sapp said. ``I used to beg for an end who can close the corner like that. He got us out of a tough situation right at the start with that big strip.''

The Redskins had moved to the Tampa Bay 37 on their opening possession when Rice faked an outside rush on tight end Robert Royal and sliced through to sack Patrick Ramsey, who fumbled. Rice recovered the fumble, but his fun was just beginning. With that one play, he extended Tampa Bay's sack streak to 65 consecutive games and the club's turnover streak to 46.

``It was very important for us to show how dominating this defense can be,'' said Rice, who also dropped Ramsey in the second and third quarters before sacking former Bucs QB Rob Johnson in the final minutes. ``We can't be at the other team's mercy, like we were last week. I came as hard as I possibly can today and I was determined to bring my energy into this game.''

Tampa Bay's revamped secondary fed off that energy, intercepting Ramsey twice. Pressure by Rice and McFarland led to Dwight Smith's third-quarter pick and McFarland had Ramsey in his grasp when the beleaguered quarterback was intercepted by Derrick Brooks for a game-sealing 44-yard touchdown return. ``We did what we needed to do in terms of upping the pressure,'' said Rice, who registered one of his sacks lined up on the left side.

Rice has eight of Tampa Bay's 13 sacks on the season, but Sapp and McFarland may be ready to stir, heading into Sunday's matchup at San Francisco. ``We've got a lot of guys up front with a lot of pride,'' McFarland said. ``This game was a challenge because we know we didn't get it done last week. Now we're 3-0 on the road and in a good mood heading for Frisco.''