Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sack Happy

Marcus Jones and Warren Sapp assault the sack section of the Buccaneers’ record book

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DE Marcus Jones treated Detroit blockers like revolving doors en route to a Buccaneer single-game sack record

At halftime of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 28-14 loss to Detroit on Thursday, former Buccaneer DE Lee Roy Selmon was introduced as part of an onfield promotion. As the emcee noted, Selmon is the only Tampa Bay player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, fitting as he owns the team's career and single-season record for sacks and a share of the single-game mark.

Presumably, Selmon stuck around for the second half of football. If so, he saw a pair of current Buccaneer linemen, DE Marcus Jones and DT Warren Sapp, make an all-out attack on his stash of records.

Selmon's single-season mark in Tampa Bay's annals is 13, set way back in 1977. After Sapp just missed with 12.5 last year and opened this season with 7.5 QB takedowns in the Bucs' first six games, he was considered a good bet to take that record from Selmon.

Well, you can add Jones to that list now as well. Against the Lions on Thursday, Jones terrorized QB Charlie Batch for four sacks and Sapp added two of his own (a seventh was recorded by DT Anthony McFarland). That allowed Jones to slip past the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the year into the 2000 team lead; Jones now has 10 sacks, Sapp 9.5.

So Jones now seems to have just as good of a shot as Sapp to catch Selmon, but he won't have to wait to displace the Hall of Famer on another chart. Jones, you see, is the first player in Tampa Bay's 25-year history to have four sacks in a single game. It has been accomplished on 14 other occasions, first by Selmon on 12/11/77, which just happens to be an important date in Buccaneer history. Selmon's sacks that day helped the Bucs earn their first win ever, a 33-14 victory at New Orleans.

Sapp has hit that single-game mark himself on two occasions, including the last Bucs-Lions affair on September 17. Jones' previous career high was two, which he has done on three occasions, including the Bucs' last game, at Minnesota on October 9. That he was able to double his personal best on Thursday was of little consolation to Jones after the loss.

"It doesn't make me feel better," he said. "We did not win."

They were on the field for a lengthy time in the efforts to get that win, with Detroit holding a 13-minute time-of-possession advantage. The Bucs defenders could be forgiven for getting tired as the game wore on, but Jones kept his push coming, getting exactly one sack in each of the four quarters.

"I don't care about going out there," said Jones. "We just have to keep working hard and put everything together."

Sapp may have a battle on his hands for the team sack lead (don't count out McFarland at 5.5 sacks, either), but he's got a healthy head start on Jones in the career category.

Selmon's all-time total of 78.5 sacks once seemed unassailable for any current Buccaneers, particularly when that was more than twice the second-place man, David Logan (39 sacks from 1979-86). Now Sapp is Selmon's closest pursuer, and he's closing ground rapidly. With his two on Thursday, Sapp became just the second Buc to cross the 50-sack plateau; at 51.5, he is now just 27 behind Selmon.

Both Sapp and Jones have had a hand in at least one sack in six of the team's seven games, both being shut out only against the Jets on September 24. They're leading a weekly charge that is putting the 1997 team sack record on a very short endangered list.

The Bucs, led by Sapp's 10.5, had a Buccaneer-best 44 sacks in '97, just missing that mark last year with 43. This year, they are already at 35 through seven games. The sack pace that seemed ludicrous after just two or three weeks is looking more solid each week; right now, it's five sacks per game, which would lead to 80 by season's end.

Even if the Bucs get nowhere close to 80, they're a virtual lock to pass 44. It would take only one sack per game the rest of the way to tie it.

Selmon would surely love to see that occur. Everyone's favorite Buccaneer, Selmon remains a strong booster for the team and certainly roots for the players making a run at some of his hallowed marks. One fell on Thursday; more are sure to come.

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