For the second week in a row the Buc defense dominated their opponent and paved the way for a Buccaneer win. Unlike last week though, the Bucs ran the ball down the Rams throat and did not rely on Joey Galloway and the pass offense. The offensive line blew open holes for the running backs and they ran through them for big yards and touchdowns. The defense got the turnovers they used to be known for and did not allow the Rams to get in the end zone all game. It was Buc Ball in its finest, and it led to a win.
The defense has its swagger back and are flying to the ball. Last season the Bucs missed a lot of tackles, especially in the run game and there was no one else there to help whomever tried to make the tackle. This year the Bucs are not missing tackles and there are 3 or 4 guys around the ball every time there is a play to be made. Jermaine Phillips has revived his career with Raheem Morris back and is just unloading on people. Last season the safeties got a lot of flak, which was well earned, but this year they are in the right spots and they are making plays. The back 7 in this defense could not be playing any better at the moment and Phillip Buchanon is also a nice addition.
The additions to the defense in the off season have really paid off for the Bucs. Cato June has shown an ability to cover his side of the field and make the tackles when needed, which was the big knock on him. Kevin Carter is a force to be reckoned with up front as is Greg Peterson and Greg White. Barrett Ruud was unbelievable once again this week and just seems to be around the ball at all times. Ruud has stepped in nicely and is making every play that a Middle Linebacker can make. The addition of Tanard Jackson to the secondary has also helped even though he is a rookie. Jackson has provided some speed and run stopping ability from the free safety spot that was missing last year with Will Allen back there. The Bucs still need more of a pass rush from the front four, but the defense is back and they will turn that around too.
Last week it was the Jeff Garcia to Joey Galloway connection that led the Buc offense, but this week it was the offensive line and the running backs turn. The Bucs committed to running the ball and the offensive line just blew the rams off of the ball. Aaron Sears was blowing people up and has shown a nasty streak in run blocking that has been lacking here in Tampa. BJ Askew also made some key blocks from the full back position that allowed the backs to run free.
The running game seemed to get better as the game went on and surprisingly it got better when Cadillac was pulled from the game after he fumbled. Earnest Graham was given the opportunity to carry the ball in the third quarter after Cadillac fumbled the ball and Graham made the most of his opportunity. He ran 8 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Graham seemed to run with an authority that Cadillac has been missing this season. Michael Pittman also had some great runs and catches in the game to help the Bucs move the ball down the field. The Bucs should use all of these guys going forward to keep them fresh and pound that rock.