The Todd Bowles era in Tampa is off to a good start, and in some ways an unprecedented one.
First, the obvious: The 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are off to a 2-0 start, making Bowles just the second head coach in team history to guide his team to wins in his first two games at the helm. The first time this happened was exactly 30 years ago, as Sam Wyche's 1992 squad burst out of the gate with wins over the Cardinals and Packers.
There is one major difference between Wyche's fast-starting team and Bowles' current crew: The 1992 Bucs played their first two games at home. This is the first time a Tampa Bay head coach has started his tenure with two straight road victories. In fact, this is the first time in team history that the Buccaneers are 2-0 after the first two weeks of the season with both wins on the road.
With two games still to play on Monday night (Tennessee at Buffalo and Minnesota at Philadelphia), the Buccaneers hold the top spot in the league's points allowed category, having given up a total of 13 points, or 6.5 per game. If Minnesota allows six or more points and Buffalo four or more on Monday night, the Bucs will have the lowest overall total of points allowed. This marks the third-lowest scoring total a Tampa Bay team has ever allowed through the first two games of a season.
Buccaneers' Fewest Points Allowed, First Two Games of a Season
Tampa Bay's two-game defensive onslaught picked up steam in the final 17 game minutes of Monday's victory, beginning with a forced fumble by safety Logan Ryan on Saints back Mark Ingram with a minute left in the third period, with outside linebacker Carl Nassib recovering. The Bucs would get four more turnovers in the fourth quarter: two Jamel Dean interceptions, one Mike Edwards pick six and a fumble recovery by Carlton Davis. Takeaways have been a staple of the defense constructed by Bowles, who was the Bucs' defensive coordinator for three seasons (2019-21) before assuming his current role.
Most Takeaways, NFL Teams, 2019-22
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 93
2. New England Patriots: 90
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 88
4. Buffalo Bills: 82
5. Indianapolis Colts: 82
After Dean's two fourth-quarter interceptions led to a touchdown and a field goal, Edwards gave the Bucs the breathing room they needed with his 68-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was the third pick-six of Edwards' career and his third in the past two seasons. He leads all NFL players in that category since the start of the 2021 campaign.
Most Interception Return Touchdowns, NFL, 2021-22
Davis didn't get in on the pick party but he did break up a pass during the game. He now has 50 passes defensed since the start of the 2019 season, the most by any player in the NFL.
Most Passes Defensed, NFL, 2019-22
Tampa Bay's defense also sacked Winston six times, with outside linebacker Shaq Barrett getting two, inside linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David joining safety Antoine Winfield Jr. with one each and outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and defensive lineman Vita Vea combining on the last one. Tampa Bay's defense is also third in the NFL in sacks since Bowles' arrival.
Most Quarterback Sacks, NFL Teams, 2019-22
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 172
2. Los Angeles Rams: 158
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 152
4. New Orleans Saints: 143
5. Washington Commanders: 136
Through the first two weeks of the season (prior to the two Monday night games), White is tied for third in the NFL with 3.0 sacks. He has also led the Buccaneers in tackles in each of the first two games and has 19 stops overall. White is the only player in the league with at least 15 tackles and at least three sacks.
Barrett enjoyed the eighth game of his career with at least 2.0 sacks, all coming since he joined the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Barrett now has 39.5 sacks in his three-plus seasons in Tampa, tied for the third-most in the NFL in that span.
Most Sacks, NFL Players, 2019-22
Barrett's first sack, in the second quarter, forced a fumble by Winston, though the Saints recovered. That's the 12th "strip-sack" of Barrett's tenure with the Buccaneers, which is tied for the most in the NFL during that time.
Most Strip-Sacks, NFL Players, 2019-22
(* Ngakoue has played for the Jaguars, Vikings, Ravens, Raiders and Colts since the start of the 2019 season.)
Prior to the two Monday night games, Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop was the leading scorer in the NFL through two weeks, with 21 points. Succop made both of his field goal tries in New Orleans, each from 47 yards, and added two extra points to give him eight points on the afternoon and make him the Bucs' top scorer for the second week in a row. Succop joined the Buccaneers just before the start of the 2020 Super Bowl season and has since scored the second-most points in the NFL.
Most Points Scored, NFL, 2020-22
Wide receiver Mike Evans was the Buccaneers' leader in receiving yards for the second week in a row, hauling in three passes for 61 yards against the Saints. That put him on the verge of setting the Buccaneers' career record for yards from scrimmage. Evans is already the franchise's all-time leader in receptions (614), receiving yards (9,433), touchdown receptions (76) and overall touchdowns (77). Now he needs just seven more yards to take over the top spot on another list.
Most Yards from Scrimmage, Buccaneers Franchise History
- In addition to his sack, Lavonte David contributed six tackles to the Bucs' defensive effort on Sunday. David now has 166 tackles against the Saints in his career, which is the second most by any active player against a specific opponent in the NFL. The Rams' Bobby Wagner, who played his first 10 seasons in Seattle, has a career total of 172 tackles against the San Francisco 49ers.
- As noted above, the Buccaneers' defense racked up six sacks against New Orleans on Sunday while also taking the ball away five times. That's the first time in nine seasons that a Tampa Bay defense has recorded at least five takeaways and at least six sacks in a single game. The last time it occurred was on December 8, 2013 against Buffalo.
- Four of the Bucs' five takeaways occurred in the fourth quarter. The last time an NFL team forced at least four turnovers in a single quarter was last November 18, by the Patriots against the Falcons.