Still, it's worth noting that the Bucs only improved their offensive ranking from 31st to 28th during that span, and that in two of those three wins they were held below 270 total yards. Tampa Bay's defense (and, more often than not, the special teams), has been just as important to the team's second-half turnaround, helping the Bucs win four of five after starting out 0-8. Moreover, the Bucs' injury woes have been largely concentrated on offense, as the starting defense remains largely intact in the season's final month. The Buccaneers won't make the playoffs in 2013, but they do have a chance to show that they are on the cusp of putting together yet another excellent defense, which has long been the franchise's trademark.
Against Buffalo on Sunday, running back
Tampa Bay's offense had its finest day three weeks earlier in a 41-28 drubbing of Atlanta. As is the case in almost every season, however, there are days when the offense shoulders most of the load and days when it is on the defense to secure the win. The Buccaneers' defense took center stage against Buffalo, and they want to be the type of unit that can be counted on to do so every week, much like the famous Tampa Bay D of the mid-'90s to early-'00s.
"When we go out there, we want to make plays," said linebacker Mason Foster, who had one of the Bucs' four interceptions off Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel. "We want to take control of the game because we know that we can. We know we’ve got the players in our room to do it. Gerald [McCoy] always says, ‘If they don’t score, we win,’ so you’ve just got to try your best to keep playing great, making great plays, getting the ball back. We want to be a great defense. We feel like we’re a lot better than what our numbers have shown in the win column. We feel like we’re a lot better than that, and we’re trying to come out here and prove it, finish this year strong."
“We’ve been able to – with the exception of [linebacker]
In fact, the Buccaneers have a pretty promising mix of proven veterans in their prime and young standouts who look to be on the verge of stardom. Cornerback
It's an impressive collection of talent, but also a hard-working group that sees the possibility of greatness and is determined to get there.
“There are a lot of great defenses in this league, a lot of great defensive players, so it’s tough to say," said Foster. "But at the same time, I know everybody that plays on this defense personally, and they’re all my good friends, like my brothers. I know how hard they work and how much everything means to them, how much football means to them.
"I’m excited. These guys work hard day-in and day-out. We compete on a daily basis, trying to get better. I think the sky’s the limit for us. We’ve just got to keep working and keep progressing. Guys are getting smarter and understanding the defense [better] each and every day. We’ve got a lot of great, young players on this defense, so I’m excited."