Poor start no reflection on defense
Roger Mills, The St.Petersburg Times, published 20 September 2004

This may not be a broken record, just the sound of an annoying problem starting to repeat itself and getting dangerously close to being old. For the second time in as many games this season, and the umpteenth time in recent years, the Bucs defense played a solid game and gave up one touchdown. And for the second straight week, the defense got no help from the offense.

"The seed is there on defense, and if the offense could kick it in a bit, we'll exorcise a lot of demons," Simeon Rice said. "But, we can't go week to week without scoring points. The premise of the game is touchdowns. (The premise) of whether the game is won or lost is points. It kind of hurts. ... It shows up on Sunday and that's what we play for, that's what it's about. Hopefully, we'll get the screws tight and move forward. If not, it's going to be a rough season."

In the 10-6 loss to the Seahawks, the Bucs gave up 182 yards, at one point forced nine straight punts and held touchdown machine Shaun Alexander to 45 yards and no scent of the end zone paint. It was a team effort, but it began with the defensive line. "I thought they played very, very well," defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said. "They responded to the challenge of a very, very good front. But, we're a very good front. I really believe in these guys. There's just a lot more of them and I'm able to rotate more than I ever have. They are also unselfish, that's the thing. They root for each other, they get out there and rotate and are just fresh."

Against one of the best offensive lines in the league, the Bucs front four tormented Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who completed 12 of 26 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. "It's tough, man; what can you do," Anthony McFarland said. "They had nine first downs today, 182 yards. Those are good numbers to put up. But, at the same time, we gave up a touchdown. It's kind of the same story from last week. We give up one play and we've got to eliminate that play. That's what it's going to take for us to win."

McFarland led the charge. In his first home game since taking over the under tackle position vacated by Warren Sapp, McFarland looked an adequate replacement with two sacks and four tackles. But, McFarland said, none really matter. "I had some looks, one-on-one looks that I left out there, and it'll keep me up at night," he said. "We have to go back and find a way. This game is real simple: People who make plays win, people who don't lose. It doesn't matter. We didn't win. This is not Booger vs. the Seahawks, this is not (Derrick) Brooks vs. the Seahawks. This is the Bucs vs. the Seahawks, and as a team when we don't make enough plays, we don't win."

As disappointing as the 0-2 start is for the Bucs, they know the defense, and front four in particular, can still be dominating. "We came out and dominated those guys," Ellis Wyms said. "It's probably the best offensive line we're going to see, and they don't want to block us again. They couldn't really deal with us defensively. Even when we didn't blitz, they couldn't handle us up front. We just outmatched them in every way. They couldn't run the ball, they couldn't pass the ball and that's saying a lot for that kind of offense, to be able to shut them out like that."

Actually, it wasn't shut out. Again, the Bucs surrendered one big play, this time a 27-yard touchdown from Hasselbeck to Koren Robinson, and it made a difference. "We're coming along," said Rice, who was held without a sack for the second straight game. "We're still not hitting on all cylinders, we could still do things better. I could still do things better. Across the board, we're still growing, and that's good to see."