Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Buccaneers Fielding League's Stingiest Defense

Data Crunch: The Buccaneers have allowed the fewest points in the NFL through three weeks, and are off to their best start on that side of the ball in more than 20 years

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell just short in their 2022 home opener against Green Bay, losing 14-12 after a failed two-point conversion attempt in the game's closing seconds. Given the injury issues both teams were dealing with on the young season, it was little surprise that two usually-explosive offensive teams wound up in a low-scoring defensive struggle.

For a good part of the first half, though, it seemed like at least one of the two teams was going to keep the scoreboard rolling. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on methodical touchdown drives on their first two possessions and then got them within reaching distance of the end zone on their third drive before Vita Vea forced a fumble by Aaron Jones.

However, Tampa Bay's defense made the necessary adjustments and Green Bay's final eight drives (not counting a game-ending kneel-down) ended in seven punts and an interception. As such, the Buccaneers held a third straight opponent to 14 points or fewer, marking just the second time the franchise has ever opened a season that way. The 2003 team, which was defending a Super Bowl XXXVII championship, won 17-0 and 31-10 in the first three weeks, sandwiched around a 12-9 overtime loss to Carolina.

Buccaneers' Fewest Points Allowed, First Three Games of a Season

Table inside Article
SeasonPoints AllowedRecord
2003222-1
2000263-0
2022272-1
2005323-0
1999322-1

With the Cowboys and Giants still to play on Monday night, the Buccaneers' defense is currently allowing the fewest points per game in 2022. Tampa Bay also currently ranks fourth in fewest yards allowed per game (289.0) and fifth in fewest yards allowed per play (4.54).

Fewest Points Per Game Allowed, NFL, 2022

Table inside Article
1. Buccaneers: 9.0
2. Broncos: 12.0
3. 49ers: 12.3
4t. Bills: 12.7
4t. Jaguars: 12.7

Veteran safety Logan Ryan was responsible for both of the Buccaneers' two takeaways against the packers, recovering the Jones fumble that Vea caused in the second quarter and interception Rodgers near midfield in the third period. His first interception as a Buccaneer (and the 19th of his career) led to a field goal, the only points scored off four takeaways (two for each team) in the game. Tampa Bay is currently tied for the league lead in turnovers forced, prior to Monday night's game. The Bucs are also tied for the second most interceptions, with five, one behind the Jaguars and Ravens.

Most Takeaways, NFL Teams, 2022

Table inside Article
1t. Buccaneers: 8
1t. Jaguars: 8
1t. Ravens: 8
4t. Bills: 7
4t. Rams: 7

That also continues a trend that started when Todd Bowles arrived as the new defensive coordinator in 2019 (he has since ascended to the head coach position). In the three-plus seasons since, only the Steelers and Patriots have forced more turnovers.

Most Takeaways, NFL Teams, 2019-22

Table inside Article
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 93
2. New England Patriots: 92
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 90
4. Buffalo Bills: 86
5. Indianapolis Colts: 84

Safety Mike Edwards led the Buccaneers' defense with a career-high 13 tackles, four of which came on running plays. Edwards was part of a defensive effort that held Green Bay to 67 rushing yards on 25 carries, for an average of 2.7 per tote. Coming into the game, the Packers were ranked sixth in the league with an average of 157.0 rushing yards per game and third with an average of 5.61 yards per carry.

Tampa Bay has played 51 regular-season games since the start of the 2019 season – coinciding with the arrival of Bowles and most of the current defensive coaching staff – and has held 35 of those opponents below 100 rushing yards. That's the most such games in the NFL in that span.

Most Games Holding Opponents to Fewer than 100 Rushing Yards, NFL, 2019-22

Table inside Article
1. Buccaneers: 35
2. Saints: 33
3. Colts: 30
4. Ravens: 29
5. Three tied with 27

Unsurprisingly, Tampa Bay's defense has also allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in that same span, and by a wide margin, as well as the fewest yards allowed per carry.

Fewest Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game, NFL, 2019-22

Table inside Article
1. Buccaneers: 82.3
2. Saints: 95.6
3. Ravens: 95.8
4. Colts: 98.1
5. Rams: 102.0

Fewest Yards Allowed Per Carry, NFL, 2019-22

Table inside Article
1. Buccaneers: 3.73
2. Rams: 3.93
3. Saints: 3.94
4. Jets: 3.97
5. Colts: 3.98

Wide receiver Russell Gage, playing in just his third game as a Buccaneer, led the team with 12 receptions for 87 yards and scored his first touchdown for his new team on a one-yard pass with 14 seconds left in the game. Gage's 12 catches tied for the fourth most in a single game by a Buccaneer and the second most by a Buccaneer receiver.

Most Receptions, Single Game, Buccaneers History

Table inside Article
PlayerPos.OpponentDateRecs.
Chris GodwinWRat Atlanta12/5/2115
Earnest GrahamRBat Detroit10/21/0713
James WilderRBMinnesota9/15/8513
Russell GageWRGreen Bay9/25/2212
Mike EvansWRat Seattle11/3/1912
Chris GodwinWRat L.A. Rams9/26/1912
Warrick DunnRBChicago11/18/0112
Keyshawn JohnsonWRChicago11/18/0112

Kicker Ryan Succop accounted for the Buccaneers' other six points in the game with a pair of 45-yard field goals. Succop's last five field goal attempts, and six of his nine in total, have come from a range of 44 to 47 yards out. He has made all six of those tries and has already hit on more kicks of 44 yards or longer than he did all of last season. Succop, who is eight of nine on field goal tries overall this season, is tied for the most made field goals of 40 or more yards among NFL kickers.

Most Successful Field Goals of 40+ Yards, NFL, 2022

Table inside Article
KickerTeam40+ FGs
Ryan SuccopBuccaneers6
Greg ZuerleinJets6
Younghoe KooFalcons5
Evan McPhersonBengals5
Ka'imi FairbairnTexans4

Succop is the most accurate kicker in Buccaneers franchise history, with a field goal success rate of 87.1% (61 of 70). He is closing in on 300 points scored in his Tampa Bay tenure, which would make him just the eighth player to hit that mark as a Buccaneer. His points total since the start of the 2020 season ranks third in the NFL.

Most Points Scored, NFL, 2020-22

Table inside Article
PlayerTeamPts.
Daniel CarlsonRaiders322
Tyler BassBills299
Ryan SuccopBuccaneers294
Justin TuckerRavens288
Greg ZuerleinCowboys/Jets286

**

Additional Notes:

- Rookie defensive lineman Logan Hall recorded the first sack of his NFL career when he dropped Aaron Rodgers for a seven-yard loss in the fourth quarter, a play that ended Green Bay's last drive (other than a final kneel-down) and gave Tom Brady three minutes to engineer a final touchdown drive. Hall was also responsible for three of the Buccaneers' six hits on Rodgers despite playing just 27 of a possible 62 defensive snaps.

- Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown-to-interception ratio, with a career mark of 4.77. However, Tampa Bay is one of only two teams against which he does not have a positive TD/INT ratio, as the Bucs have now picked him off 10 times while allowing 10 touchdown passes in six career meetings. Rodgers has also thrown three touchdown passes and three interceptions in three career games against the Bills.

- The Buccaneers have now allowed a total of seven points in the second halves of their three games, all on a late touchdown by the Saints in a Week Two win at New Orleans. Only Denver, with six second-half points surrendered through three games, has allowed fewer.

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