Snakebit Barber
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune, published 15 October 2007

After coming tantalizingly close to a historic interception Sunday, Ronde Barber walked out of Raymond James Stadium with a smile and a heck of a consolation prize. Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl cornerback endured a frustrating 15-minute span in the second half, but Barber and the Bucs pulled out a 13-10 triumph against the rugged Titans that left them at 4-2, matching last year's victory total.

'We feel we have a really good football team here,' Barber said. 'We've got a lot more to show, but I'm excited where we are. This win was huge. Being 3-0 at home is a great feeling, and I think we stepped up today. I couldn't be happier with our position.'

Barber and ex-Bucs cornerback Donnie Abraham are tied for the franchise record with 31 career interceptions. It appeared Barber had the record to himself when he picked off an overthrown pass by Kerry Collins at the Tampa Bay 43-yard line late in the third quarter.

But former Gators tight end Ben Troupe hit Barber, and the ball was not secured when Barber hit the ground. Tennessee challenged the play, and the call was reversed. Two minutes later, Barber recovered a fumble at the Bucs 41, only to cough up the ball himself when he was hit by Chris Brown.

Barber's trilogy of woe culminated with another apparent interception, this time in the left corner of the Bucs' end zone when Collins threw late to LenDale White with the Titans trying to drive for a tying score.

'Donnie's praying to the gods at home,' said Barber, whose theft was nullified when he was ruled out of bounds following another successful challenge by the Titans. 'Only kidding. I'm not worried about the record. We've got another 10 games left, and it'll come.'

Tampa Bay's defense rebounded from a subpar effort at Indianapolis and held together despite being on the field for 45 snaps after intermission. 'I thought Ronde had two picks today,' safety Jermaine Phillips said. 'I was already congratulating him. It wasn't the prettiest win, but we're 4-2. If I remember right, we won four games all of last year. Talk to me after win No. 5 - maybe I'll crack a smile.'

Even with the overturned interceptions, the Bucs registered three takeaways and dropped Tennessee to 3-22 since 2004 when the Titans lose the turnover battle. 'As usual, turnovers told the story,' Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks said. 'It was one of the classic wins in Buc history, a little bit of the ol' Buc Ball.'

Behind backup quarterback Collins, who replaced the injured Vince Young midway through the third quarter, Tennessee converted all three of its third-down situations during an 86-yard drive that forged a 10-10 tie.

But the Titans, who had been averaging 153 yards on the ground, were limited to an average of 2.9 yards on their 33 carries. 'Our motto is 'Keep Our Poise,'' said cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who had eight tackles and an interception. 'No matter what's happening on the field, keep our poise. I think we did that today. I'm just glad we won. I haven't been 4-2 since my rookie year in Oakland and it sure feels good.'