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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin White: 'It's Only Win Number Two'

In what was obviously a very emotional game on Sunday in the Superdome, Tampa Bay snapped a long losing streak to the Saints but defensive leader Devin White stressed afterward that the Bucs are just getting started

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the 2022 season with high expectations, but also a daunting opening slate to their game schedule. The Buccaneers faced the league's hardest strength-of-schedule over the first four weeks and were forced to start the season with two games on the road, including one in their personal house of horrors, the Superdome in New Orleans.

It is therefore hard to overstate how encouraging it is for the Bucs to be 2-0 halfway through that gauntlet after Sunday's rousing 20-10 win over the Saints. Tampa Bay has never before started a season with two straight road wins in the first two weeks. And, of course, before Sunday the team had lost seven straight regular-season games to the Saints, all by a margin of at least seven points.

It's also fair to say that this was an emotional ballgame in the Superdome, as was clear when a spontaneous midfield scrum in the fourth quarter got Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore ejected, and those emotions undoubtedly spilled into the postgame locker room. Despite all of that, inside linebacker and team captain Devin White's message was one of temperance.

"Like I said during the week before the game, it's only win number two," he said. "It don't make us winners of the division right now, it don't make us winners of the Super Bowl, it don't give us first place. It don't do nothing. It just lets us know that, hey, that's what we came in here to do and we did it."

Technically, the Buccaneers did move into first place on Sunday, sending the Saints to 1-1 while the Falcons and Panthers each fell to 0-2. But it's a point well-taken. The Saints had won the previous four NFC South titles before the Bucs ended that streak last year, and they figure to stay in the division race this year, as well. The two teams meet again in Tampa in Week 13 and the Bucs have a lot more to accomplish before then.

"Now we've got to put our focus somewhere else, and obviously we'll play these guys again," said White. "That's why you don't want to get on your high horse. You don't want to be so far up that they humble you when they come to your house. We're just going to take this win and go on to the next game, and when they come back up in the discussion to play again we'll be locked in and focused again."

The Bucs have accomplished plenty in the first two weeks, though, primarily serving notice to the league that their defense is among the best in the NFL. Tampa Bay's 13 points allowed through two games is the third lowest in team history and the Bucs didn't allow a single touchdown through the first 117 game minutes of the season.

White has had a big part in that, with 3.0 sacks through the first two games, including one of the six the Bucs battered Jameis Winston with on Sunday. White led the team in tackles for the second game in a row, adding that sack, a quarterback hit, a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. But the Buccaneers had a lot of contributors on defense on Sunday, as that group has jelled quickly despite some significant lineup changes. Out are Jordan Whitehead, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, and in are Akiem Hicks, Logan Ryan, Keanu Neal and Logan Hall. Some holdover Bucs, like safety Mike Edwards and cornerback Jamel Dean have stepped into more significant roles. Dean and Edwards combined for three interceptions against the Saints, Edwards' pick going 68 yards for a touchdown, and Ryan started an onslaught of late-game takeaways with a key forced fumble in the red zone.

"That's just to show you what type of coaching staff we've got here," said White. "They let some guys go, moved some guys around, did some shuffling and they did a great job. This is those guys' time now. They're on the field more so they've got more opportunities to make plays, and that's what they did.

"We've got great players all around. I think they're overshadowed by other things that have happened. It's a great bunch of men, from the offensive side to the defensive side, to now we've got guys on special teams stepping up and making plays. So we're just trying to keep drilling and keep growing together."

Indeed, the Bucs have a long way to go. But two road wins in the first two weeks is a great start…even if that's all it is so far.

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