Defense Sets Tone; Bucs Go To 2-0

Bucs set tone for season in 19-3 win over Buffalo. Simply, no offensive mistakes and let the defense take over.

By Jeff Berlinicke

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers knew entering the season that they would live and die by the defense. It's been their strategy for 30 years now and hasn't changed a bit.

Because of the defense, they are 2-0 after a dominating 19-3 win over the Buffalo Bills who came into the game sky high after an opening win and a quarterback with more than a little cockiness.

For J.P. Losman, it was the longest day of his career, as he was hounded by the Bucs defense all day, even forced to step out of the end zone for the safety that gave the Bucs a 2-0 lead early in the second quarter.

It wasn't that the Bucs offense was stunning, because it wasn't. It's just that the Bucs don't have to score often with this defense. If Brian Griese, Cadillac Williams, etc., can just not make mistakes, the Bucs defense has proven it can do the rest.

It's still too early to rent a permanent spot on the Buccaneer Bandwagon, but seats are limited. The Minnesota Vikings, the team the Bucs beat in the opener, were exposed as a fraud after Sunday's blowout in Cincinnati. The Bills have a decent running game and not much else, but things shouldn't change next week when the Bucs travel to Green Bay to take on Brett Favre and not much else. If anyone saw a 2-0 start coming, it certainly wasn't Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

"There are a lot of people who said we might not win two games two weeks ago,'' Gruden said. "To keep things in perspective, you just have to stay focused, and we need to get better. We're just happy to be 2-0.''

On offense, the Bucs did what they had to do. Griese was solid and Williams crossed the 100-yard mark for the second straight week. The Bucs dominated time of possession and that seems to be the way they will win or lose football games all year. Control the ball, let Cadillac run up 100 yards, don't turn the ball over and let the defense take care of the rest.

It was some defense. Losman said he felt the Bucs knew their plays before they even got to the line of scrimmage. Even without sending an all-out blitz and the Bills, the Bucs kept pressure on Losman and kept Willis McGahee in their sights. The Bills didn't even have a first down until late in the first half, after the safety.

Things will be different next week. The Bucs won't be able to sit back and let a second-year quarterback make his own mistakes, but with Green Bay struggling everywhere, the defense should have a chance to tee off on Favre.


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