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Takeaways Turn the Tide in Miami

Posted Nov 20, 2017

Stat Shots: Tampa Bay's defense and special teams forced five turnovers in Miami, resulting in 24 points, and that has been a team strength for the past two years

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, 30-20, and turnovers were the difference. The Buccaneers recorded five takeaways and scored 24 points off of them while not turning the ball over once. That plus-five turnover ratio and plus-24 margin on points off turnovers were both season highs for Tampa Bay.

In fact – and this will not likely come as a surprise – games with a plus-five or better turnover ratio are fairly rare in Buccaneer history. Sunday's game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was just the 14th one on the list, the first since 2014 and just the fourth since the turn of the millennium. It is actually a bit surprising, on the other hand, that Tampa Bay is not undefeated in such games. They are 13-1, losing a 17-12 decision at Pittsburgh on Oct. 30, 1983 despite a turnover margin of plus-seven.

In some of those 14 games, the Buccaneers have achieved a plus-five turnover ratio while committing at least one giveaway of their own. The win over Miami was the eighth game in team history in which the Buccaneers forced at least five turnovers without committing one of their own. The Dolphins make the list twice, even though the two teams have only met 11 times in the regular season.

At Least Five Takeaways, Zero Giveaways, Single Game, Buccaneers History

Date Opponent TA GA TO Ratio Outcome
11/19/17 at Miami 5 0 +5 W, 30-20
11/24/13 at Detroit 5 0 +5 W, 24-21
11/25/07 Washington 6 0 +6 W, 19-13
11/28/99 at Seattle 6 0 +6 W, 16-3
10/8/95 Cincinnati 6 0 +6 W, 19-16
10/7/84 Minnesota 5 0 +5 W, 35-31
10/30/83 at Pittsburgh 7 0 +7 L, 17-12
11/29/82 Miami 6 0 +6 W, 23-17


The Buccaneers are one of only two teams to finish a game with at least a plus-five turnover ratio so far this season. The other such game also occurred this Sunday, with the Chargers using a plus-six margin to manhandle the Bills, 54-24. There have been 57 such games in the NFL in the last decade, and the team on the right end of that ratio has won 55 times. The two exceptions were an Arizona loss to Atlanta on Nov. 18, 2012 and a Cleveland loss to Jacksonville on Nov. 21, 2010.

Three of the Buccaneers' five takeaways on Sunday were interceptions, with Justin Evans, Kwon Alexander and Robert McClain all picking off Jay Cutler in the first half. Since the arrival of Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith and the start of the 2016 season, the Buccaneers rank fifth in the NFL in interceptions by their defense. Though they did not return any of those picks for touchdowns, the Bucs do lead the league in that same span in interception-return scores.

Most Interceptions, Team, 2016-17

Team Interceptions Pick-Sixes
Baltimore 34 2
L.A. Chargers 30 4
Philadelphia 30 4
Kansas City 27 4
Tampa Bay 26 5


The Buccaneers did score on a return against the Dolphins, as Miami fumbled on the game's final play trying a desperation kickoff return with multiple laterals. Tampa Bay linebacker Adarius Glanton recovered the resulting fumble in the end zone for his first career touchdown. That is the seventh time the Buccaneers have scored on an interception or fumble recovery in the past two seasons, which ties for the NFL lead in that span.

Most Interception and Fumble Return Touchdowns, 2016-17

Team INT TDs FR TDs Total
Tampa Bay 5 2 7
Kansas City 4 3 7
L.A. Chargers 4 3 7
Atlanta 3 3 6
Denver 4 2 6
Detroit 4 2 6
Jacksonville 3 3 6
Philadelphia 4 2 6


So far this season, the Buccaneers have scored 72 points off of 19 takeaways, either on direct returns of the turnovers or points on the ensuing drives. They have allowed 41 points as the result of giveaways, for a ratio of plus-31 points. Since the start of last season, Tampa Bay has turned its takeaways into 153 points, which is tied for the third most in the NFL in that span.

Most Points Off Turnovers, 2016-17, NFL Teams

Team 2016 2017 Total
Arizona 108 48 156
Kansas City 105 49 154
Tampa Bay 81 72 153
Baltimore 80 73 153
Philadelphia 76 75 151
Denver 117 31 148
Carolina 95 38 133
L.A. Chargers 74 59 133
New England 93 34 127
Jacksonville 30 96 126
L.A. Rams 42 84 126


While taking the ball away at a rapid clip on Sunday, the Buccaneers' defense did not follow up its breakout six-sack effort against the New York Jets with another rush to the Miami backfield. In fact, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded the Bucs' only sack of the day by getting Matt Moore down at the line of scrimmage early in the fourth quarter.

Still, that put McCoy at 5.0 sacks for the season, a milestone he has now reached in six straight seasons. He is just the fourth player in franchise history with that many five-sack seasons, joining Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon and Warren Sapp as well as Simeon Rice. McCoy is just the third player in team history with six consecutive five-sack seasons.

Most Consecutive Five-Sack Seasons, Buccaneers History

Player No. Seasons
Warren Sapp 8 1996-2003
Gerald McCoy 6 2012-17
Lee Roy Selmon 6 1976-81
Simeon Rice 5 2001-05


McCoy is one of just 10 players in the NFL who have had at least five sacks in each of the last six seasons, and the only one who is listed as a defensive tackle. This is the list:

  • DT Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay
  • DE Michael Bennett, Tampa Bay/Seattle
  • DE Calais Campbell, Arizona/Jacksonville
  • DE Everson Griffen, Minnesota
  • DE Chandler Jones, New England/Arizona
  • DE Cameron Jordan, New Orleans
  • LB Ryan Kerrigan, Washington
  • LB Von Miller, Denver
  • DE Julius Peppers, Chicago/Green Bay/Carolina
  • DE Cameron Wake, Miami


McCoy now has 38.5 sacks since the start of the 2013, the first of his five consecutive Pro Bowl years. He continues to lead all NFL defensive tackles in that category over the past five seasons.

Most Sacks, NFL Defensive Tackles, 2013-17

Player Team(s) Sacks
Gerald McCoy TB 38.5
Geno Atkins CIN 35.0
Aaron Donald LAR 33.0
Jurrell Casey TEN 30.5
Ndamukong Suh DET/MIA 28.5


McCoy also hit Miami's quarterbacks three times in Sunday's game, giving him 20 QB hits on the season. Though he's not among the league's top 10 in sacks so far this season, McCoy has been getting to the passer with regularity. In fact, he is tied for the NFL lead in quarterback hits with Arizona's Chandler Jones.

Most Quarterback Hits, NFL, 2017

Player Team QB Hits
Gerald McCoy Tampa Bay 20
Chandler Jones Arizona 20
Calais Campbell Jacksonville 19
Joey Bosa San Diego 18
Demarcus Lawrence Dallas 18