Just Like Old Times For Barber
Ronde Barber once joked he wasn't allowed to set foot in the city of Philadelphia after returning an interception 92 yards for a touchdown in the 2003 NFC Championship Game.
After Sunday's performance, Eagles fans likely will ban him from the Delaware Valley for fear he'll get anywhere near their team.
Barber became the first Tampa Bay player in history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a regular-season game. He returned the first pick in the second quarter for 37 yards and the second in the third quarter for 66 yards.
"He's officially known as the 'Philly Killer' right now," Bucs strong safety Jermaine Phillips said. "The games he has against them is just unbelievable."
Those two interceptions, which moved him into second place on the team's all-time interception list, were part of four turnovers the Bucs defense created Sunday. Juran Bolden also had an interception and Torrie Cox recovered a fumble by Eagles receiver Jason Avant, which was forced by Barber.
"Ronde did a great job of reading both interceptions," Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "The first interception was man coverage and he was taken up by Jason Avant, but he peeled off as I was going outside. The second was a great read on his part by jumping in front of the out cut and taking it the distance."
Credit good timing also.
The three-time Pro Bowl cornerback turned in his best performance of the season the same week Pro Bowl voting began. His two scores increased his franchise lead for most by a defensive player in team history with 10.
Before the game, Barber was hanging out with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin when someone - someone Barber wants to remain nameless - made mention of the defense needing to step up.
Two weeks ago, Coach Jon Gruden called out the defense and since then, the unit has responded.
"We've been called out a number of times this year," Barber said. "We got called out before the game. Kiffin and I were sitting in [the locker room] and we got called out by the biggest name in this organization, so it's nice to do something good for him."
Barber did some calling out of his own. Speaking directly to the secondary, Barber implored the unit not to waste plays.
"You get opportunities," Barber said. "We've had a bunch of them in the course of the season. In the secondary, especially, and we haven't taken advantage of them. I told these guys it's not all right anymore to leave these opportunities out there. I talked the talk [and] I guess I walked the walk."
Katherine Smith, The Tampa Tribune 23 October 2006