Call it the time of year—the days grow still shorter, the Christmas lights go up everywhere, and the mall parking lots resemble a California freeway—but I believe it was the playing of the Buccaneer defense on Sunday that has me thinking of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.
Ghosts of Buccaneers Defenses Past
A bend but don’t break defense? A defensive line that rushed, bullied, harassed, and made life miserable for one Cam Newton. Talk about opportunistic, four turnovers! Sometime between the opening kickoff and the last play I fell asleep, and I swear I was visited by the ghosts of the Tampa 2.
Ghosts of Buccaneers Defense Present
Gerald McCoy was pressuring Newton throughout the afternoon, getting two hits. JPP was all over the place. Lavonte David was back after a two-game absence, not only disruptive as always but tipping a pass that would lead to one of those interceptions. The Buccaneers also had their third game in a row with four sacks. The Panthers were getting some yardage, but when it mattered most, especially by the 4th quarter, you just knew the defense was going to straighten up and find a way to stop the drive.
Ghosts of Buccaneers Defense Future
Andrew Adams, a young man with a smile that can light a room, got cut in September by the Giants. He bounced around to five teams before landing on the Buccaneer practice squad, coming into the game yesterday and tying a Buccaneer team record with three interceptions in one game. With injuries to Brent Grimes, MJ Stewart, and Carlton Davis the Bucs were down to their 5th, 6th, and 7th cornerbacks. But don’t tell this group of young men they were supposed to be intimidated facing a Carolina team that needed to win to keep their playoff destiny in their own hands. Javien Elliot intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards, setting the offense up for another scoring drive.
In his seventh game as defensive coordinator, Mark Duffner seems well on his way to exorcising some defensive demons that have been hanging around for too long. Let us all enjoy this resurgence and a merry defense to everyone.
Sources: Google, Wikipedia, Tampa Bay Times