A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' game against the Rams.
Linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David provided most of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' big defensive plays in Sunday's down-to-the-wire, 37-32 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Together they combined for 15 stops, the Buccaneers' only sack, interception and forced fumble, and three of the team's five tackles for loss.
The interception belonged to Alexander, who took his third career pick 38 yards to the opposite end zone for his first NFL touchdown. That was the Buccaneers' first defensive touchdown of the season – on their first takeaway of the season – and the first since David went 20 yards on a pick-six at Philadelphia on Nov. 22 of last season.
Alexander also had a sack of QB Matt Ryan in the Buccaneers' Week One win at Atlanta. Through three weeks, Tampa Bay's second-year linebacker is one of only six players in the NFL who have already recorded a sack and an interception, joining New England LB Jamie Collins, Carolina LB Thomas Davis, Buffalo safety Corey Graham, Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson and Minnesota defensive tackle Tom Johnson. Alexander and Johnson are the only two NFL players who already have a sack and a pick-six this year.
David's sack was his first of the season, giving him 14 in his career. That's the third-most by a linebacker in team history, behind Broderick Thomas's 26.5 from 1989-93 and Chris Washington's 17.5 from 1984-88. It's worth noting that Washington played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, a position that is often asked to rush the passer more often than a 4-3 linebacker. Thomas also played in a 3-4 during his first two seasons. Having just passed Derrick Brooks (13.5 career sacks), David is essentially the top sack man among the team's history of 4-3 outside linebackers.
Punter Bryan Anger continued the very strong start to his Buccaneer career in Week Three.
Signed as an unrestricted free agent this past spring after four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Anger has turned in three very similar and very attractive single-game stat lines. In his first game as a Buc in Atlanta, Anger punted five times for a gross average of 49.4 yards and a net average of 45.0, with two inside the 20 and a long of 57. In Week Two at Arizona, he kicked six times with a gross of 47.0, a net of 42.5, three inside the 20 and a long of 59. On Sunday, he punted four times for a gross of 47.8, a net of 44.8, one inside the 20 and a long of 55.
Anger and Houston's Shane Lechler are the only punters in the NFL who have recorded a gross average of 47.0 yards per punt or better every week so far this season. Anger and Lechler are also the only two with a net of at least 42.0 yards per punt in every game.Given those notes, it's not surprising that Anger is currently tied for third in the NFL with a net average of 43.9.
READ: MIKE EVANS CONTINUES TORRID PACEAnger is the first punter in Buccaneer history to post a gross punting average of 47.0 yards per kick or better in three straight games. He is also the first to record a net average of 42.0 or better in three straight games.
As noted last week, the Bucs' records for gross punting, net punting and punts inside the 20 will all be in serious danger of Anger continues at anywhere close to his current pace. His gross (48.0) and net (43.9) averages are currently ahead of the top marks in team annals (albeit with most of the season to go) and he's set an early pace for 32 punts inside the 20 by season's end.
Best Single-Season Gross Punting Averages, Buccaneers
Best Single-Season Net Punting Averages, Buccaneers
Most Single-Season Punts Inside the 20, Buccaneers
Odds and Ends
- The Buccaneers are one of 12 teams in the NFL that have scored touchdowns on all of their drives that reached a first-and-goal situation. However, only the Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders have done that on as many as five opportunities. The Bucs were four-for-four in that category on Sunday against the Rams. The last time Tampa Bay's offense even had four goal-to-go opportunities in one game was on Sept. 28, 2014, when they converted three of them into touchdowns and one into a field goal during a 27-24 win. The last time the Bucs had as many as four goal-to-go situations and converted all of them into touchdowns was on Nov. 7, 2004 in a 34-31 win over Kansas City. The Bucs are off to a good start in that category, obviously, and will have an excellent chance to improve on last year's mark of 64.0% TD efficiency, which ranked 23rd in the league.
- The 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Rams DE Ethan Westbrooks in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game was the longest fumble return ever against the Buccaneers, topping a mark that had stood for 35 years. The previous record was a 68-yarder by Green Bay's George Cumby on Oct. 11, 1981.
- Sunday's game marked just the 12th time in Bucs history that the team has scored 30 or more points in a loss. The team record for most points scored in a loss came in a 41-38 decision in Miami on Oct. 20, 1985, a game in which TE Jimmie Giles scored a team-record four touchdowns. Those 32 points on Sunday night were the third-most the Bucs have ever scored in a home defeat, after a 38-35 overtime game against Indianapolis on Oct. 6, 2003 and a 34-33 game against the Rams on Oct. 25, 1984.
- In addition to Sunday's game, the Buccaneers also fell to the Rams in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. This marks just the second time Tampa Bay has ever lost to a non-division opponent in five consecutive seasons. The Saints beat the Buccaneers in six straight years from 1983-88.