Ronde Experiences Full Range Of Emotions
Ronde Barber lost his cool, not his focus. Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl cornerback experienced a full gamut of emotions in Sunday's 14-12 loss to the Jets, ranging from anger to elation and, finally, frustration. "Obviously, we didn't play particularly well," said Barber, whose rare lapse of self-discipline helped New York score its first touchdown as the Jets went ahead 7-6 midway through the second quarter.

Ty Law's 43-yard interception return gave the Jets possession at the 8-yard line and Curtis Martin was stopped for a 3-yard gain, but Barber and New York center Kevin Mawae became entangled. Barber swung his right hand at Mawae, but the blow landed instead near the right eye of umpire Butch Hannah. Barber wasn't ejected, but his unnecessary roughness penalty gave the Jets a first down at the 2-yard line and Martin went off left guard for the score on the ensuing play.

"I was just trying to get Mawae's hands off my face mask," said Barber, who finished with five tackles, an interception and three pass breakups. "It was two guys with their testosterone running high, acting like idiots. I'm a feisty dude and he's a feisty dude."

Hannah's face did not appear swollen as he walked off the field after the game. "I'm OK," he said.

Barber wasn't used extensively as a blitzer Sunday, but he made an impact throughout the game as Vinny Testaverde tested Tampa Bay's secondary downfield. With the Jets ahead 14-9 and driving in the fourth quarter, Barber sniffed out a Testaverde pass intended for Justin McCareins and made the pick at the Bucs' 14, giving the offense an opportunity for a go-ahead touchdown. "That was actually a play they ran earlier and I tipped the ball away," Barber said of his first theft of the season.

The Bucs had been 21-4 under Coach Jon Gruden when winning the turnover battle, but they fell from the unbeaten ranks despite three takeaways. "I'm just as surprised as you are," Barber said of the narrow setback. "We realistically could have lost last week, but we'll bounce back. We'll go back to work [today] with the same attitude as if we had won [Sunday]."

Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune 10 October 2005