Barber produces return to remember in win
Ronde Barber was a rookie cornerback on the 1997 Buccaneers team that was honored at halftime of Sunday's game against the Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.
Unable to participate in the celebration, which included the induction of former left tackle Paul Gruber into the Ring of Honor, Barber vowed privately to do something special for his former teammates.
That something special came right after halftime, when Barber snatched a Brady Quinn pass just before it hit the ground and ran it back for a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"I was kind of wishing I could be on the field with those guys at halftime, but I don't think coach (Greg) Schiano was going to go for that,'' Barber said. "It's OK. I gave them something to remember me with.''
Barber will forever be remembered by teammates and Bucs fans for plays like that. It was his 45th career regular-season interception and eighth returned for a touchdown – both franchise records.
Barber has 12 career regular-season interception or fumble returns for touchdowns, one fewer than all-time NFL leaders Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson. He wouldn't have the latest, he said, without some help from a friend.
"They ran two slants on that play and I covered the inside slant and (cornerback) E.J. Biggers actually made a great play there,'' Barber said of the pass breakup that made the interception possible. He's been the assist on a couple of my interceptions here the last couple of years, so you should give him more credit than me. I just snatched the ball up off the ground before it hit it.''
Biggers might not have been in the game at that point were it not for the loss Saturday of starting right corner Aqib Talib, who was suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances.
With Talib out, the Bucs pushed Biggers into the starting lineup for the 17th time in his career. He responded with a solid effort, producing two tackles in addition to the pass breakup.
"We played as a team today and when you do that and do your job at all times, things like this happen,'' said Biggers, who started in place of Talib for the seventh time in his career.
The Chiefs tried to take advantage of Talib's absence by reducing their dependence on the run and throwing the ball 38 times. The ploy didn't work as Tampa Bay limited Kansas City to 180 yards passing, a season best for the Bucs defense.
Rookie safety Mark Barron picked off his first NFL pass to thwart a drive in the first quarter. "I was thinking I could score off of that pick, but I couldn't quite get my balance and get my head up after I caught it,'' Barron said. "But I was happy with it anyway. It was a big play for us.
"Communication was the key on that play and all day, really. Everybody (in the secondary) was on the same page today. We made sure everyone was comfortable, everybody knew what they were doing, everybody was able to play a little faster and we got good results.''
|About the writer|
Roy Cummings has been The Tampa Tribune's primary Buccaneer beat writer for many years now and has a knowledge of the current players that is unsurpassed amongst local reporters. He also appears on Channel 8's news broadcasts on stories about the Bucs. He came to London with the Bucs in 2009 and was at Richmond Park to be part of the Bucs UK's most memorable day when the club took on the UK Patriots at touch football in front of many Bucs alumni and club officials.