Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Successful at Limiting Big Plays

The Buccaneers' defense has been one of the best in the league at limiting big plays.

The Buccaneers dropped a close one to the Saints on Sunday, losing 24-17 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay's defense hoped to make the difference with a big play at the end of the game, but for just the second time all season (also at Indianapolis, Week 12), the Bucs failed to secure a single takeaway.

In fact, neither team committed a turnover in Sunday's game, the first time that has happened to the Buccaneers in 2015. Before Sunday, the last Tampa Bay game in which neither team committed a turnover occurred almost exactly five years ago, against Seattle on Dec. 26, 2010. NFL teams have played a combined 207 games so far, prior to Monday night's outing, and only nine of those have ended with neither team turning the ball over at least once.

Tampa Bay won that zero-turnover game against Seattle in 2010, 38-15, but in general has not found that combination of events leading to victory. There have been just 15 regular-season games in Buccaneer history in which neither team committed a turnover, and the Buccaneers are 3-12 in those games overall. Here are those 12 outings:

Date

Opp.

Result

Dec. 13, 2015

New Orleans

L 17-24

Dec. 26, 2010

Seattle

W 38-15

Dec. 19, 2010

Detroit

L 20-23 (OT)

Sept. 13, 2009

Dallas

L 21-34

Sept. 18, 2005

Buffalo

W 19-3

Dec. 14, 2003

Houston

W 16-3

Oct. 26, 1997

Minnesota

L 6-10

Oct. 20, 1996

Arizona

L 9-13

Nov. 26, 1995

Green Bay

L 13-35

Nov. 13, 1994

Detroit

L 9-14

Sept. 4, 1994

Chicago

L 9-21

Oct. 28, 1993

Green Bay

L 10-13

Dec. 8, 1991

Minnesota

L 24-26

Sept. 9, 1984

New Orleans

L 13-17

Sept. 13, 1981

Kansas City

L 10-19

Without any takeaways, Tampa Bay's defense needed some critical third-down stops and also found those very hard to come by. New Orleans converted 12 of 17 third downson the afternoon, and that doesn't include another pair of first downs on defensive penalties that erased third-down incompletions.

New Orleans' third-down conversion rate of 70.6% was the highest the Buccaneers have allowed this season and the best number by a Tampa Bay opponent since Atlanta converted 72.7% (8-11) on Sept. 18, 2014. Third-down conversion data has been tracked since the 1991 season, and since that time the Saints' success rate on Sunday was the sixth-highest single-game mark the Buccaneers have allowed. Those 12 third-down conversions are tied for the most Tampa Bay has allowed in any game since at least 1991. The only other time the Bucs allowed a dozen third-down conversions was against Indianapolis on Oct. 7, 2007.

On the other hand, Tampa Bay's defense continued to do a very good job of limiting big plays. The Saints did convert a third-and-21 with a 41-yard pass in the second quarter, but no other Saints play picked up more than 26 yards. The Buccaneers' defense has allowed the fewest plays of 20 or more yards of any team in the NFL this season.

Fewest 20+-Yard Plays Allowed, NFL, 2015

Team

Big Runs

TDs

Big Recs.

TDs

Big Plays

TDs

  1. TB

3

1

37

3

40

4

  1. DEN

4

2

37

3

41

5

  1. CIN

10

1

33

6

43

7

  1. CHI

4

1

41

8

45

9

  1. MIN

7

1

39

9

46

10

  1. KC

6

0

41

7

47

7

7t. ATL

11

2

37

4

48

6

7t. CAR

8

2

40

6

48

8

7t. DAL

7

1

41

7

48

8

7t. GB

11

1

37

3

48

4

7t. SEA

3

1

45

6

48

7

7t. STL

12

2

36

7

48

9


The Bucs are tied with Seattle with the fewest 20+-yard runs allowed, at three. Their 37 20+-yard completions allowed is tied for third-best. Tampa Bay has surrendered just three touchdown passes of 20 or more yards, tied with Arizona, Denver and Green Bay for fewest in the NFL. Overall, the Buccaneers have allowed a total of four "big-play" touchdowns, which is just one behind Arizona for the fewest in the NFL.

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