A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 14 matchup with the Lions
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense forced three turnovers on Sunday against Detroit, which could have been a winning edge if not for the five turnovers committed by Tampa Bay's offense. In the end, Detroit won the game, 24-21, on a 46-yard Matt Prater field goal with 20 seconds remaining.
The first of those Buccaneer takeaways came from a familiar source: linebacker Lavonte David. With three minutes left in the first quarter, David caught up with tight end Eric Ebron after a short reception and was able to poke the ball out of Ebron's grasp. A wild scramble ensued, and after several players on both teams failed to corral the loose ball, David took care of the matter himself, falling on it at Detroit's 39-yard line.
Incredibly, that was both the fifth forced fumble and the fifth fumble recovery of the season for David, making him the NFL's top master of that art. The proof is right in the rankings in those two categories, as the Buccaneer linebacker is second in the NFL in forced fumbles (one off the lead) and first in opponent fumble recoveries.
Most Forced Fumbles, NFL, 2017
|Lavonte David||LB||Tampa Bay||5|
|Joey Bosa||DE||L.A. Chargers||4|
Not surprisingly, the rest of the top five in forced fumbles is comprised of edge rushers, who tend to get their forced fumbles primarily on strip sacks. Lavonte David does not have a sack this season. He does have a lot of fumble recoveries, though.
Most Opponent Fumble Recoveries, NFL, 2017
|Lavonte David||LB||Tampa Bay||5|
This list, in contrast, is mostly linebackers. It's also worth noting that David is the only name to appear on both top-five lists. Not only is he the only player in the NFL with at least five forced fumbles and at least five fumble recoveries, he's the only player in the NFL with at least three in each category. There are only seven players in the NFL, including David, who have forced at least two fumbles and recovered at least three opponent fumbles.
|Lavonte David||Tampa Bay||5||5|
Though he has set new career single-season highs in both fumble categories this year, David is not new to taking the ball away from opposing players. In the six seasons since he entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick in 2012, David has been among the league's best at both forcing and recovering fumbles.
Most Forced Fumbles, NFL, 2012-17
Most Opponent Fumble Recoveries, NFL, 2012-17
Again, those two lists are markedly different, other than David's presence, because edge rushers usually lead the league in forced fumbles, while the fumble recoveries list is more varied.
In terms of Tampa Bay's own franchise history, David's five forced fumbles are the seventh-highest single-season total. Broderick Thomas (1991) and Stylez G. White (2007) share the record with seven. David's five opponent fumble recoveries in 2017 have set a new Buccaneer record; the previous mark was four, first set by Bill Kollar and Cecil Johnson in 1979, then matched by Ivory Sully in 1986 and Jovan Haye in 2007.
David's career mark in opponent fumble recoveries is nearing a franchise record. The only player in team history with more than David's 11 is future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber.
Most Career Opponent Fumble Recoveries, Buccaneers History
|Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976-84||10|
The Buccaneers' other two takeaways against the Lions were interceptions by Brent Grimes and Robert McClain. Both players pushed their season INT totals to three, tying rookie safety Justin Evans for the team lead in that category. The last time the Buccaneers had three different players get at least three interceptions each was 2013, when David had five and Mason Foster, Keith Tandy and Johnthan Banks all had three.
Grimes now has 33 career interceptions, including seven in his two seasons as a Buccaneer. Among active players, Grimes stands fifth in picks, right between Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib.
Most Career Interceptions, Active NFL Players
After notching his third interception of the season on Sunday, Grimes has now met or exceeded that total every year since 2013, a run of five consecutive seasons. Grimes is the only player in the NFL who has at least three interceptions in each of the last five seasons, though Talib could still join that group if he picks off two more passes over the next three weeks.
Grimes also had six interceptions in 2009 and another five in 2010 before injuries cost him a total of 19 games during the 2011-12 campaigns. That means he has seven seasons with at least three interceptions since 2009, more than any other player in the NFL in that span.
Most 3-Interception Seasons, NFL, 2009-17
|8 others tied with||5|
Though the Buccaneers lost the turnover-ratio battle – and thus, the game – on Sunday, the defense did get at least three takeaways for the third time this season. Tampa Bay's defense has been one of the league's best at forcing turnovers since the arrival of Mike Smith as defensive coordinator in 2016.
Most Takeaways, NFL Teams, 2016-17
- Baltimore: 57
- Tampa Bay: 53
- Kansas City: 50
L.A. Chargers: 50