Defense pitches second half shutout
The Bucs defense performed in Sunday's first half much like it did the week before against the Saints — yielding points and yards in heaping doses. The Rams scored on three of their first four possessions, taking a 17-3 lead. RB Steven Jackson was running at will, racking up 74 rushing yards and averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Then came the second half, when the Bucs limited the Rams to 6 first downs and kept them off the scoreboard. "We don't dwell on the consequences of a bad half," CB Ronde Barber said. "It's hard to explain, but it's really a stress-free attitude in our locker room (at halftime). I think some of that is from (coach Raheem Morris). It reflects on us. He's the antithesis of a hard-nosed, punish-you-for-playing-bad sort of coach. He just lets it run off his shoulders. He just keeps it moving. It showed up in the second half today."
The defense punished Jackson, matching his physical style of running and holding him to 36 yards on 8 carries in the second half. The defense also kept rookie QB Sam Bradford, the draft's top overall pick, from getting into a rhythm. "(Jackson is) always going to make a few guys miss, but it was more blown assignments in the first half," LB Barrett Ruud said.
"With him, you have to tackle him at the line of scrimmage, or at least attempt to tackle him at the line of scrimmage. Because then, you give a chance to the next guy to come in and help out. But when he's coming in there and not getting touched for 5 or 6 yards, he's going to be a problem. We did a much better job of being on our assignments and having multiple guys near the line of scrimmage."
Between last week's Saints game (a 31-6 loss) and the first half Sunday, the Bucs defense had given up 48 points over their previous six quarters. So the zeroes during Sunday's third and fourth quarters were quite promising because they came in spite of the defense's imperfections.
"We easily went out there and put together one of the worst first halves of my tenure," Morris said. "If you want to add the Saints game (last week), you could say six quarters. But this team plays 60 minutes. There's no doubt about that. They have no give-up in them. They have nothing but fight."
|About the writer|
Stephen F Holder has been writing additional Buccaneer features and daily blog reports on the team for several seasons now for The St.Petersburg Times.