Lights out in Candlestick Park
The last time an opposing NFL team went in to Candlestick Park and shutout the San Francisco 49ers was 9th October 1977. That 0-7 loss to Atlanta Falcons came courteousy of Scott Hunter passing for 137 yards and Haskel Stanback rushing for 56 yards (!?!).
This occurance is so rare that it last happened in the same year that Elvis Pressley and Charlie Chaplin died, Red Rum was winning his 3rd Grand National and Star Wars opened in cinemas around the UK. That is how often teams shut out the 49ers at home!
But this Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took their "Can't stop the run" defense into Candlestick and did what every other NFL Franchise has tried to do in the last three decades.
All right the 49ers are hardly the team of Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Steve Young but they are the same team who scored 22 points against the Super Bowl Champion Saints, 24 points against the Eagles and most recently 23 points against the St Louis Rams.
Frank Gore is widely acknowledged to be one of the top running backs in the NFL, he gained 23 yards. Vernon Davis is one of the best Tight Ends in the modern game, he gained 3 yards. The Buccaneers D had been known this season as a unit capable of takeaways but last Sunday the whole unit straight out dominated and won every single individual matchup.
Gerald McCoy finally recorded what will be the first of many NFL sacks and his impact up front alongside Al Woods and Roy Miller was the main reason the Bucs were so dominant. In run stopping the middle of the field was a no-go area for the previously mentioned Mr Gore. He was jammed at the line on nearly every hand off.
In recent weeks people have said of Cadillac Williams rushing woes that it looks like the Defense get the call the same time as Williams. That seemed to be the case on Sunday as the Buccaneers seemed tuned into the 49ers huddle making play after play for minimal gains or loses.
There were first sacks of the season for Michael Bennett, Adam Hayward, Alex Magee and a first half sack for Al Woods. Add to that Buccaneers leading pass rusher Stylez G White adding another 1.5 sacks to his season tally and Troy Smith saw more of the Bucs D-Line last Sunday then some men see of their wife in a week!
Gerald McCoy's breakout game had been building for a few weeks now with broken up passes, forced fumbles and a greatly improved push up front but yesterday showed why the Buccaneers were so pleased to add the man out of Oklahoma to their roster. He was everywhere making plays and causing mayhem.
This kind of pressure caused some wayward throws from Smith, one of which gave future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber his 40th career pick becoming the first player in NFL history to record 40 interceptions and 25 sacks in a career. It might not be too long before Mr Selmon has come company in the Buccaneers wing of Canton's football shrine.
Everyone is talking about the Bucs Offense, and rightly so with talented rookies like Blount, Williams and Benn being led by #5. But take a look on the other side of the ball. Cody Grimm, a 7th round steal just like Sammie Stroughter before him, EJ Biggers, Aqib Talib and Myron Lewis could form the basis of the Buccaneers secondary for years to come and all have come up trumps when given the oppurtunity even after some initial mishaps.
The D-Line is a young unit full of athletes and I am a fan of both our linebacking core of Black, Hayes and Ruud too. We are only a couple of top talents at the DE position from once again dominating teams on the defensive side of the ball. Only this time the offense might not let you on the field in the first place!