TE Dave Moore is steadily lifting himself up the Bucs' all-time receiving TDs list
Each week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' communications department prepares a lengthy release for distribution to local and national members of the media. The release previews the team's upcoming game and keeps an eye on team notes, stats and trends.
This comprehensive document is now available to the team's fans on Buccaneers.com. Each week, Buccaneers.com will post this release as a front-page story, sharing directly with the fans what used to be filtered through the media covering the team. The release for the Bucs October 1 trip to FedEx Field to face the Washington Redskins follows below.
TAMPA BAY (3-1) BEGINS TWO-GAME ROAD SWING AT WASHINGTON (2-2)
GAME INFORMATION Date: Sunday, October, 2000 Kickoff: 4:15 p.m. ET Site: FedEx Field Records: Tampa Bay 3-1, Washington 2-2 TV: CBS; Play-By-Play: Pat Summerall, Color: John Madden, Sideline: D.J. Johnson National Radio: Westwood One Sports (Tony Roberts, Rick Walker) Bucs Radio: WQYK, Flagship station (99.5 FM, 1010 AM) Play-by-Play: Gene Deckerhoff, Color: Scot Brantley, Sideline: Tom Korun Spanish Radio: Mega 96.1 FM; Play-by-Play: Neil Fernandez, Color: Mike Chavez
STILL PERFECT IN THE RED ZONE The Bucs offense remained perfect inside the 20 this season by going 2-2 (one TD, one FG) against the Jets on Sunday. For the season, Tampa Bay has had 13 possessions inside the Green Zone (as referred to by offensive coordinator Les Steckel) and has come away with 10 touchdowns and three field goals.
LAST GAME Bucs Lose for First Time as Jets Rally for 21-17 Victory
TAMPA - The Jets rallied from a 17-6 fourth quarter deficit to snap Tampa Bay's eight-game home winning streak with a 21-17 win before 65,619 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay lost for the first time, while the Jets remained unbeaten at 4-0. Jets RB Curtis Martin found WR Wayne Chrebet in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown on a halfback option with 52 seconds left in the game. The play capped a frantic final two minutes when New York scored twice. Martin caught a six-yard TD pass from QB Vinny Testaverde with 1:54 remaining to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 17-14. Bucs FB Mike Alstott fumbled on the second play, giving New York the ball at the Tampa Bay 24-yard line. The Jets capitalized with the deciding touchdown two plays later. After the two teams swapped first quarter field goals, TE Dave Moore gave the Bucs a 10-3 edge with a one-handed three-yard TD grab in the back of the end zone from QB Shaun King. New York added a field goal before intermission, but Tampa Bay extended the lead to 17-6 late in the third quarter on an outstanding defensive play by CB Ronde Barber. Barber stepped in front of a Testaverde pass and ran untouched 37 yards for a touchdown, his second defensive score of the season. Tampa Bay's offense gained 239 total yards (119 rushing, 120 passing), but managed just 17 yards in the final quarter and committed a season-high four turnovers. The Bucs defense forced three Testaverde interceptions but allowed 296 total yards.
HEAD COACH TONY DUNGY'S COMMENTS On the loss to the Jets:
"Of course we're disappointed, but you have to give them credit. They hung tough and made plays they needed to win. It's been a long time since we've lost a game in the fourth quarter. It's a must win game this week against Washington, and we're ready for it. We still had the game in control but we couldn't use a string of first downs to keep the lead."
TALE OF THE TAPE Here is a look at how the Buccaneers and Redskins match up based on their season statistics after four games (NFL ranking in parentheses)
|Total Offense||298.3 (17)||363.5 (6)|
|Rushing Offense||133.8 (5)||120.8 (8)|
|Passing Offense||164.5 (26)||242.8 (5)|
|Total Defense||245.5 (3)||268.3 (6)|
|Rushing Defense||79.8 (5)||105.0 (17)|
|Passing Defense||165.8 (4)||163.3 (3)|
BUCCANEERS-REDSKINS SERIES NOTES
HEAD-TO-HEAD (Regular Season): Washington leads the all-time series 5-4. The series has been marked by streaks with the Redskins winning the first four meetings followed by four straight victories for the Bucs. Washington's 20-16 victory during the 1998 season snapped Tampa Bay's win streak, which had occurred within a three-year span. Tampa Bay won twice in 1994, and once in 1995 and 1996. Three of the victories came at Tampa Stadium - with the one road win a tough one for Washington. Tampa Bay's 17-14 victory (12/18/94) capped the Redskins' only winless season at RFK Stadium. Prior to Tampa Bay's four-game run of success, Washington owned the series. The Redskins won the first-ever meeting between the teams, 10-0 in 1977 in Tampa, and also beat the Bucs 21-13 in 1982 en route to their first Super Bowl title.
Bucs' longest winning streak: 4, 12/4/94 Redskins' longest winning streak: 4, 10/9/77-12/5/93 Bucs' home record: 3-3 Redskins' home record: 2-1
HEAD-TO-HEAD (Postseason): The two teams have also met once during the postseason, with the Bucs rallying for a 14-13 victory in last year's divisional playoff in Tampa.
LAST MEETING (Regular Season): Washington 20, Tampa Bay 16 (12/19/98) Washington rallied for 13 points in the final quarter to defeat the Buccaneers 20-16 before 65,335 at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Tampa Bay jumped out to an early lead when QB Trent Dilfer hit TE Dave Moore for an eight-yard TD. The Redskins countered with a 16-yard scoring reverse by WR Leslie Shepherd. The Bucs regained the lead with a pair of FGs by Michael Husted, who connected from 20 and 42 yards out. Both turnovers were set up by turnovers - DE Steve White recovered a fumble and S Charles Mincy intercepted Redskins QB Trent Green. Husted added a 24-yarder in the third quarter to increase Tampa Bay's lead to 16-7, but Washington owned the fourth quarter. Redskins K Cary Blanchard nailed FGs from 26 and 35 yards out to cut the Bucs lead to 16-13. Then WR Jacquez Green fumbled a kickoff and Washington recovered at the Bucs 15-yard line. Green hit TE Stephen Alexander for a TD on the next play. Tampa Bay had two chances to counter, but both drives ended with interceptions.
SERIES HIGHLIGHTS: RB Mike Thomas scores on a six-yard TD run, lifting the Redskins to a 10-0 win in Tampa (10/9/77)...Washington limits Bucs to 136 total yards...RB John Riggins rushes for 136 yards as Redskins win 21-13 in a driving Tampa rainstorm (9/19/82)...WR Kevin House catches four passes for 105 yards and one TD...Tampa Bay scores three TDs in the fourth quarter, but Redskins hold on for 32-28 win at RFK Stadium (10/22/89)...CB Ricky Reynolds scores on a blocked punt return - the Bucs' first special teams TD in 11 years...RB Errict Rhett racks up 192 rushing yards - the second-best performance in club history - leading Bucs to 26-21 win in Tampa (12/4/94)...QB Craig Erickson burrows in from one yard out for winning score with 32 seconds left...Rhett rushes for two TDs as Bucs earn season sweep with 17-14 win at RFK Stadium (12/18/94)...Rhett and rookie FB Mike Alstott combine for 164 yards on the ground en route to 24-10 Bucs win (12/8/96).
OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT When offensive coordinator Les Steckel arrived this past spring with a new offensive scheme, no one could have predicted the success it has brought thus far. Tampa Bay is ranked 17th in the league in total offense (298.3 ypg), including fifth in the NFL in rushing offense (133.8 ypg). Last season the Bucs offense ranked 28th in the league in total offense (265.9 ypg) in the final rankings.
A look at the first four games this season versus the opening four contests a year ago shows some major strides. 51 more points, more than 100 yards in total offense, 53 more passing yards, nine fewer sacks and much more. In fact, the Bucs have scored seven rushing touchdowns already after finding the end zone via the ground seven times in 16 games last season. Here is a comparison:
|Bucs Offense After Four Games|
|Kickoff Return Avg.||22.1||27.1|
One big reason for the offensive success has been the play of QB Shaun King. King has thrown five touchdowns with just two interceptions in 94 passing attempts and boasts a quarterback rating of 82.8.
Another area that has shown phenomenal improvement is Tampa Bay's success inside the 20. The offense has been perfect in that regard, converting on all 13 of its chances (10 TDs, three field goals) in the first four games. In fact, Tampa Bay's 10 touchdowns have been scored by seven different players (Alstott-3, King-2, Anthony, Dunn, Johnson, McDaniel and Moore).
PREMIUM DEFENSE Looking for a reason why the Buccaneers raced off to a 3-1 start, their best start since 1997. Look no further than the Buccaneers swarming defense. The National Football League's proverbial wrecking crew continues to make headlines during the first month of the 2000 NFL campaign. Though Tampa Bay suffered its first blemish of the season, a 21-17 loss to New York last Sunday, it marked just the third time under Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy that Tampa Bay lost a lead entering the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay is currently ranked third in the NFL in total defense (245.5 yards per game), fourth in pass defense (165.8 yards per game) and fifth in rushing defense (79.8 yards per game). In addition, Tampa Bay is atop the NFC in three different categories.
|Tampa Bay||NFC Ranking|
|Total Points Allowed||47||1 (tied with Minnesota)|
|Turnover Ratio||+ 6||1|
|First Downs Allowed||47||1|
|Tampa Bay||NFL Ranking|
|Third Down Efficiency||12-54 (22.2%)||1|
Buoyed by the inspired play of All-Pro DT Warren Sapp (second in the NFC with 5.5 sacks), LB Derrick Brooks (47 tackles), S John Lynch (21 tackles, one INT), playmaker CB Donnie Abraham (three interceptions) and the emergence of CB Ronde Barber (3.5 sacks, fumble and interception returns for TDs), DE Marcus Jones (three sacks) and DT Anthony McFarland (15 tackles, 2.5 sacks), the Buccaneers are one of the most feared defensive units in the NFL -- holding their first four opponents - New England, Chicago, Detroit and the New York Jets - to just 47 points, tied for a conference-low with the Minnesota Vikings, who have played in just three games after entertaining a bye last Sunday.
For Tampa Bay, the success is predicated by the most suffocating defense line in the league. The Buccaneers, who have posted an NFL-leading 19 sacks, racked up seven two weeks ago in a 31-10 win over the Lions. The Bucs are on pace for an astounding 76 sacks, which would shatter the team mark of 44 set in 1997 and the break the NFL record of 72 by the Chicago Bears.
As for the secondary, the Buccaneer defenders continued to play at a physical and tenacious style, which has rightfully placed them among the league's elite. Tampa Bay's secondary has held opponents to 12-54 (22.2%) on third down conversions and has complied six interceptions.
In total, the opportunistic Buccaneers have forced 11 turnovers, leading to 38 points and have a league-best plus-6 turnover margin after posting three takeaways on Sunday. The Buccaneers' defense in the red zone, ranked second in the NFC, has stifled opponents, allowing just two touchdowns and a 25.2 percent scoring rate. Tampa Bay has not allowed opposing offenses to score in the third quarter this season. In fact, since the loss to Oakland (12/19/99), the Bucs have now held opponents without a rushing TD in eight consecutive games, counting the playoffs.
Quarterbacks Second-year pro Shaun King is in his first full season as the starter after starting seven games last season, including two playoff contests. He is 7-2 as a starter in the regular season. Under a new offensive scheme, King has done well in leading the team to a 3-1 record. King has completed 47-of-94 passes with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Eric Zeier is the backup QB and the Bucs also have Georgia Tech All-America QB Joe Hamilton.
Running Backs The tandem of FB Mike Alstott and RB Warrick Dunn combined for more than 1,500 yards on the ground last season, and the duo has wasted no time showing that they plan to better that in 2000. Each has rushed for more than 50 yards in three of the first four games. Alstott already has a team-best four rushing scores and Dunn found the end zone on the ground for the first time since 1998 in Week Three at Detroit. NFL Europe Offensive MVP Aaron Stecker has been Dunn's primary backup, while also serving as Tampa Bay's kickoff returner. RB Rabih Abdullah has been a Sunday inactive the last three weeks.
Wide Receivers Tampa Bay signed two-time Pro Bowl WR Keyshawn Johnson to an eight-year deal just before the draft and he has not disappointed. Johnson has caught 15 passes, including 12 for first downs, with one touchdown in the first four games. In four seasons with the Jets, Johnson corralled 305 passes, 31 for TDs. Jacquez Green has emerged as Tampa Bay's number two receiver and leads the Bucs with 302 yards receiving on 11 catches. Five of Green's receptions have been for 30-plus yards and he is on pace to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. His 302 receiving yards is currently fifth-best in the NFC. Reidel Anthony (84 receptions over the last two seasons), Karl Williams (99 career catches) and Andre Hastings (226 career receptions with Pittsburgh and New Orleans) round out the receiving corps.
Tight Ends Dave Moore is the starter at tight end and his 18 career TD catches rank fifth on the Bucs' all-time list. Patrick Hape is in his fourth season with the club as a back-up TE and also sees action in the backfield as Alstott's backup. The Bucs added Todd Yoder, who made the team as a rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt, as well as Blake Spence, who may miss the rest of the season with a right knee sprain.
Offensive Line The Bucs have a new left side of the line in T Pete Pierson and 11-time Pro Bowler Randall McDaniel, who spent his previous 12 seasons with Minnesota, at LG. Fellow Viking Jeff Christy, a two-time Pro Bowler, is the new C. The right side remains intact with Frank Middleton at RG and Jerry Wunsch at RT. DeMarcus Curry also returns as a back-up tackle on the right side, with George Hegamin the back-up at left tackle. Todd Washington backs up Christy. Kevin Dogins and second-round pick Cosey Coleman are reserve guards. The line opened the 2000 season with a strong showing at New England, springing the running game to 140 yards and allowing just one quarterback sack. The unit followed that performance with another outstanding game versus Chicago, aiding a ground attack that gained 156 yards with two touchdowns. In Week Three at Detroit, the unit allowed no sacks and helped the offense gain 331 yards in total offense. The Bucs have allowed just five sacks after allowing 14 in the first four games last season.
Defensive Line The defensive line is anchored by DT Warren Sapp, who earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Associated Press last year. Sapp is second in the NFC with 5.5 sacks in four games. DE Chidi Ahanotu has notched 1 1/2 sacks thus far, while DE Steve White has one sack on the year. DE Marcus Jones, who has three sacks this year, has moved into a starting spot opposite Ahanotu. DT Anthony McFarland, who replaced Brad Culpepper, starts alongside Sapp and has totaled 2 1/2 sacks. DT James Cannida, DE/DT Tyoka Jackson and DE John McLaughlin all provide solid depth on the line.
Linebackers Weak-side LB Derrick Brooks has paced the club with 47 tackles in four games. The three-time Pro Bowler earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after a 16-tackle performance at New England in Week One. Starting SLB Shelton Quarles is second on the team with 26 tackles and third-year pro Jamie Duncan moves into the starting MLB slot, vacated by Hardy Nickerson. Third-round pick Nate Webster, who impressed the coaching staff in the preseason, backs up Duncan. Tampa Bay re-signed Al Singleton, who blocked a punt in the win over Detroit. Special teams standout Jeff Gooch also serves in a back-up capacity.
Secondary The Bucs are ranked fourth in the NFL in pass defense (165.8 ypg). All-Pro SS John Lynch moved into sole possession of seventh place on the club's all-time list with his 13th career interception at Detroit. FS Damien Robinson grabbed his first interception of the year last week against New York. LCB Donnie Abraham, who is off to a great start in 2000, ranks tied for third in the NFC with three interceptions. RCB Ronde Barber has made several big plays, including a fumble return for a score against Chicago and an interception return for a TD versus the Jets. Brian Kelly joins the unit in the nickel set. CB Floyd Young backs up Abraham. Second-year S Dexter Jackson saw action his first action of the year last week after suffering a left ankle sprain against Miami. Sixth-round draft pick David Gibson serves as a backup at safety and is a solid special teams player.
Special Teams Martin Gramatica, who set club records for single-season points (106) and FGs (27) a year ago, has made all 14 of his PATs and is 4-6 on field goals in 2000. P Mark Royals, who has averaged 43.5 yards per punt this year, ranked third in the NFC in gross average (43.1 to set a Bucs' single-season mark) and was second in net average (37.6) last season. WR Williams, who boasts a 12.1-yard career average on punt returns, returns punts, while RB Stecker is the Bucs' kickoff returner.
BUCS IN THE RECORD BOOK Several Buccaneers are climbing the teams' all time charts. Here is a look of some of those all-time records:
QB Shaun King Career Passing Yards 1. Vinny Testaverde, 1987-92: 14,820 2. Trent Dilfer, 1994-99: 12.969 3. Doug Williams, 1978-82: 12,648 4. Steve DeBerg, 1984-87: 1992-93: 9,439 5. Craig Erickson, 1992-94: 6,094 6. Jack Thompson, 1983-84: 3,243 7. Steve Young, 1985-86: 3,217 8. Steve Spurrier, 1976: 1,628 9. Shaun King, 1999-present: 1,555 10. Gary Huff, 1977-78: 1,058
FB Mike Alstott Career Rushing Yards 1. James Wilder , 1981-89: 5,957 2. Mike Alstott, 1996-present: 3,090 3. Reggie Cobb, 1990-93: 3,061 4. Ricky Bell, 1977-81: 3,057 5. Errict Rhett, 1994-97: 2,853
Career Total Touchdowns 1. James Wilder, 1981-89: 46 2. Mike Alstott, 1996-present: 38 3. Jimmie Giles, 1978-86: 34
Career Scoring 1. Michael Husted, 1993-98: 502 2. Donald Igwebuike, 1985-89: 416 3. James Wilder , 1981-89: 276 4. Mike Alstott, 1996-present: 228 5. Jimmie Giles, 1978-86: 204
Alstott also needs 24 rushing attempts to pass RB Ricky Bell (820) into fourth on the team's all-time rushing attempts list.
TE Dave Moore Career Receiving Touchdowns 1. Jimmie Giles, 1978-86: 34 2. Kevin House, 1980-86: 31 3. Mark Carrier, 1987-92: 27 4. Bruce Hill, 1987-91: 23 5. Dave Moore, 1992-present: 18
P Mark Royals - Needs 19 punts to move pass P David Green (246) into second place on the team's all-time punting list and 356 yards to move pass P David Green (11,659) into second place on the team's all-time punting yards list. LB Derrick Brooks - Needs 48 tackles to move pass LB Richard "Batman" Wood (855) into second place on the team's all-time tackles list. DE Chidi Ahanotu - Needs five sacks to move pass DT Brad Culpepper (33.5) into fourth place on the team's all-time sacks list. S John Lynch - Needs four tackles to move pass Mark Cotney (590) into ninth place on the team's all-time tackles list. K Martin Gramatica - Needs eight field goals to pass K Steve Christie (38) into fourth place on the team's all-time field goals list.
FAMILIAR FACES Washington punter Tommy Barnhardt was with Tampa Bay between 1996 through 1998 when he led the team in punting... In 1997 Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason was signed by Tampa Bay but waived in the cut to 60... Washington PK Michael Husted played for Tampa Bay for six years from 1993-98... CB Champ Bailey and WR Andre Hastings both attended the University of Georgia... WR Keyshawn Johnson and DB Mark Carrier were Trojans at the University of Southern California... CB Tyronne Drakeford and G Todd Washington both attended Virginia Tech at the same time... C Mark Fischer blocked for FB Mike Alstott at Purdue... Redskins QB Brad Johnson and DB Deion Sanders are Florida State alums along with Bucs RB Warrick Dunn, DB Dexter Jackson and LB Derrick Brooks... G Tre Johnson and LB Al Singleton went to Temple during their college years... DE Kenard Lang went to the University of Miami along with DT Warren Sapp... LB Derek Smith and G Frank Middleton both played at the University of Arizona... LB Nate Webster and DE Derrick Ham were teammates at the University of Miami... T Jerry Wunsch and C Cory Raymer played together at the University of Wisconsin.
INJURY UPDATE The Bucs came out of Sunday's game against the Jets with a few injuries. WR Jacquez Green (left hamstring strain), TE Blake Spence (right knee sprain) and CB Floyd Young (left hamstring strain) all sustained injuries, with Spence's injury likely causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
HEAD COACHES Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy is in his fifth season with the Bucs, boasting a franchise-best 38-30 regular-season mark (2-2 postseason). Last year the Bucs captured their first NFC Central Division title in 18 years with a franchise-best 11-5 mark. Tampa Bay won eight of its last nine games to secure the crown, aided by a club-record 7-1 home mark. The Bucs also advanced to their second-ever NFC Championship Game. Prior to an 8-8 campaign in 1998, Dungy guided Tampa Bay to a 10-6 record in 1997 and first playoff win since 1979. For his efforts, he was named Professional Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club. Dungy also won the Horrigan Award, given annually by the Pro Football Writers' Association to the NFL's most cooperative head coach. Dungy arrived in Tampa following 15 years as an NFL assistant, the last four as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He was the Chiefs' DBs coach from 1989-91 and spent the previous eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the last five as defensive coordinator. Dungy played two seasons for the Steelers as a DB before concluding his playing career with the San Francisco 49ers. He paced Pittsburgh with six interceptions in 1978 as the Steelers captured Super Bowl XIII, a 35-31 win over Dallas. Dungy, 45, is a 1976 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he played QB and earned a degree in business administration.
Norv Turner is in his seventh season as head coach of the Redskins, owning a 44-55-1 career record in the regular season. Last season Turner guided Washington to its first NFC East title in eight years and its first playoff berth in seven years. Turner came to the Redskins after four seasons as the offensive coordinator for Dallas, where he was a part of two Super Bowl champions. Prior to his arrival in Dallas, Turner spent six seasons as the WR coach for the Los Angeles Rams under John Robinson. Turner cut his coaching teeth in the Pac-10, where he had stints at USC under Robinson and Oregon, his alma mater.
Home Streak Falls: The Bucs saw their home winning streak stopped at eight straight regular season home games versus the Jets. Tampa Bay had tied the club record set during the 1996-97 seasons. Including last year's playoff win over Washington, the Bucs had won nine straight at Raymond James Stadium. In addition, the Bucs suffered their first regular season loss in the last six games, one win shy of the franchise record.
You Say Red, I Say Green: One area where the Bucs have shown great improvement on offense this season is in the red zone under new offensive coordinator Les Steckel (who calls it the Green Zone). In four games thus far, the Buccaneers are a perfect 13-13 inside the 20, including 10 touchdowns for a scoring percentage of 100% and a touchdown rate of 76.9%. Last season Tampa Bay scored points on 34 of its 45 trips inside the red zone (75.6%), but only scored a touchdown on 15 of the 45 times (33.3%).
Offensive Explosion: The Bucs have set new standards for points scored with their success thus far this season. Tampa Bay has scored 110 points in the first four games, marking the best total to open a season in club history. In addition, the Bucs put 62 points on the board versus Chicago and Detroit, the best back-to-back performance in team history. The Bucs are on pace to score 440 points, which would shatter the team record (335 in 1984).
Green Means Go: WR Jacquez Green, a third-year pro from Florida, has become the big play receiver for Tampa Bay. Green leads the club with 302 receiving yards (on 11 receptions) and an astounding 27.5 yards per catch average (first in the NFL). He is on pace to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. In fact, five of his 11 receptions have gained 30 or more yards. Green recorded his third career 100-yard receiving game against Chicago with five catches for 104 yards (20.8 avg.), including a 58-yard touchdown. He followed up that performance with a three-catch, 56-yard day at Detroit. Green and QB Shaun King hooked up on a 75-yard pass play on the Bucs first offensive series against the Jets, tying for the 10th-longest pass play in team history. The play was a career-long for both Green and King. Green is currently fifth in the NFC in receiving yards with 302.
Moore for Less: TE Dave Moore, who had just one reception in the Bucs first three games, made his second grab of the year a memorable one as he somehow snatched a three-yard pass from QB Shaun King in the back of the end zone for his 18th career touchdown. With the score, Moore moved into sole possession of fifth place on the club's all-time receiving touchdowns chart, passing Gerald Carter (17 from 1981-87).
The Barber Show: It was a September to Remember for CB Ronde Barber, who played a prominent role in leading Tampa Bay to a 3-1 campaign, the club's best start since 1997. Barber garnered NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 2 and has racked up two defensive touchdowns - a fumble recovery and interception return for a touchdown - en route to becoming the first player in franchise history to accomplish that feat since LB Richard Wood did so in 1977. Barber electrified the Raymond James faithful with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown, giving the Buccaneers a 17-6 lead late in the third quarter against the Jets. In a Week 2 win over Chicago, Barber produced the finest game of his career, notching a career-high 2.5 sacks, five tackles, a forced fumble and a 24-yard fumble recovery for a TD. Barber is now the second player in club history to score a touchdown three different ways (punt return, fumble return and an interception return), joining CB Ricky Reynolds (1987-93), who reached pay dirt on a punt return, fumble return and an interception return.
Churning Chidi: DE Chidi Ahanotu anchored the defensive line's attack, racking up one sack and six tackles against the Jets. Ahanotu immediately greeted new QB Ray Lucas on his second play from scrimmage with a six-yard sack. Then on the following play, he teamed with RDE Steve White to chase Lucas down from behind on third down, forcing a Tom Tupa punt. A veteran member of the Bucs defensive line, Ahanotu needs five sacks to move pass DT Brad Culpepper (33.5) into fourth place on the team's all-time sack list.
Balanced Attack: Buccaneers offensive coordinator Les Steckel has utilized the talents of powerful FB Mike Alstott to combine with the elusive quickness of RB Warrick Dunn in one of the most dangerous backfields in the National Football League. Under the direction of Steckel's balanced attack, the duo has combined to rush for 449 yards, the second most yards from scrimmage for a pair of backs in the NFL this season. Alstott has barreled for 253 yards on 68 carries and a team-high four rushing TDs this season. His 60-yard effort against the Jets moved him into second place on the club's all-time list with 3,090 rushing yards, passing Ricky Bell (3,057 from 1977-81) and Reggie Cobb (3,061 from 1990-93). Dunn, who has added 196 rushing yards on 53 carries for one score, paces the Bucs backfield with seven catches for 69 yards. In Tampa Bay's first four games this season, Alstott and Dunn have teamed for more than 100 yards rushing in each contest.
Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood: S Damien Robinson made a timely interception, snagging a Vinny Testaverde pass intended for RB Curtis Martin late in the second quarter. With the Jets driving after a Buccaneers' turnover, Robinson leaped into the air on the Tampa Bay six-yard line to halt the drive. That interception stifled a Jets scoring threat and propelled Tamp a Bay to a 10-6 halftime advantage.
Surging Sapp: DT Warren Sapp, who is coming off his best season as a pro after earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, may just surpass that success this season. Sapp already has 5.5 sacks after four games to rank second-best in the NFC. He matched his career high with three sacks at Detroit. Last season Sapp racked up a career-best 12½ sacks, just shy of Lee Roy Selmon's club record (13).
Dandy Duncan: LB Jamie Duncan corralled the last of Vinny Testaverde's three interceptions, bringing down a pass intended for WR Wayne Chrebet in the fourth quarter for his first career interception. Duncan, a third-year pro from Vanderbilt, has filled in nicely for the departed Hardy Nickerson at MLB, adding 18 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception and two passes defensed this season.
Alstott Attacks Record Book: With 60 yards rushing against the Jets, FB Mike Alstott moved into second place on the team's all-time list with 3,090 career yards on the ground. Alstott moved two spots up the list, passing Ricky Bell (3,057 from 1977-81) and Reggie Cobb (3,061 from 1990-93).
Donnie on the Spot: CB Donnie Abraham has found himself in the right place at the right time several times this season. Abraham, who ranks tied for third in the NFC with three interceptions, grabbed one interception at Detroit after picking off two tipped Cade McNown passes the week before versus Chicago. It marked the third time in his career (Atlanta, 11/21/99 and Minnesota, 12/6/99) that Abraham had two interceptions in a game. His first interception came when McNown's second quarter pass was tipped by DE Steve White and into Abraham's hands. The turnover led to a 23-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica. The second pick bounced off the hands of Bears RB James Allen and Abraham was waiting to return it to the four-yard line. QB Shaun King found the end zone three plays later to give the Bucs a 13-0 lead. Abraham led the Bucs with seven interceptions a year ago.
Forcing the Issue: The Bucs defense intercepted Jets QB Vinny Testaverde three times Sunday. For the year, Tampa Bay has forced 11 turnovers leading to 38 points, including CB Ronde Barber's third quarter interception return for a touchdown.
The Streak Ends: On his 11th attempt against the Jets, QB Shaun King's pass was tipped and intercepted for the first turnover by the offense this season. King had gone without an interception for his first 85 attempts to open the 2000 season.
No Rushing TDs: Tampa Bay has not allowed a rushing touchdown all season and including both playoff games a year ago, that streak dates back to Game 14 last year at Oakland.
Quarterly Reports: For the fourth straight game, the Bucs defense did not allow a touchdown in the first quarter. Including the playoffs, Tampa Bay has not given up a touchdown in the opening 15 minutes since Game 14 at Oakland last season. In addition, the third quarter has been difficult for opposing offenses. In the last six regular season games the Bucs have allowed just three points in the third quarter, including no points in all four games this season. The last time the Bucs gave up a touchdown in the third period was in Week 14 at Oakland.
Winning in the Trenches: Tampa Bay's offensive line, featuring three new starters, has shown remarkable continuity en route to leading the Buccaneers to their best start since 1997. The Buccaneers, ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing offense, have averaged 133.8 yards per contest and produced seven rushing touchdowns in just four games. That matches the number of rushing scores Tampa Bay posted last season in 16 games. In the 31-10 win over Detroit, Tampa Bay's offensive front paved the way for Buccaneer RBs to rush for 120 yards and two rushing TDs while not allowing a sack. Tampa Bay has vastly improved in its pass protection, allowing just five sacks this season. Last season, the Buccaneers allowed 14 sacks after the first four weeks. The Buccaneer offensive line also produced the only scoring reception in the win over the Lions, when G Randall McDaniel hauled in his first career TD on an acrobatic two-yard score after lining up as a blocking block for FB Mike Alstott in goal-line situations.
Devious Derrick: Recognized as one of the league's finest linebackers, Derrick Brooks has seemingly been involved in every offensive play by Bucs opponents thus far. Brooks, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a 16-tackle performance at New England, led the defense for the third straight week with 11 tackles at Detroit and also forced a fumble. He now boasts a team-leading total of 47 stops in four games. Last season Brooks paced the Bucs in tackles in 12 of 16 contests en route to his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection.