Bucs Tidbits: Inside the Numbers

Each week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers furnish the local media with an impressive amount of statistical information on the team. In this edition of Bucs Tidbits, Bucsblitz.com will expose to you some of this information, usually only for the eyes of the media. Today, go inside the numbers and find out why the Bucs are being successful this season.

Red Zone D

This season the Buccaneers defense has been one of the toughest to score upon within the 20-yard line. Through six games, Tampa Bay has allowed its opponents to score a touchdown in the red zone a mere 27.3 percent (3-11) of the time, best in the league. While teams have scored just three red zone touchdowns on the Bucs, they have had a hard time even reaching the red zone as the Buccaneers have allowed the opposition inside the 20 only 11 times, third-fewest in the league. Part of the team's success against red zone opportunities has been the ability to force opponents to punt the ball, allowing only 90 first downs, good for fourth in the NFL.

Capitalizing on turnovers

After scoring a total of two defensive touchdowns in all of 2007, the Bucs defense has already topped that mark with three defensive scores through the first six games this season. It is the most in that span since the 2002 season when the team scored a defensive touchdown in four of the first five games. That season the Buccaneers defense scored in a total of five regular season games and added four more defensive touchdowns in three postseason contests. The scoring on defense started this season in Week 1 at New Orleans (9/7) when CB Phillip Buchanon returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. That was followed by a DE Gaines Adams 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 3 at Chicago (9/21) and a S Jermaine Phillips fumble recovery returned 38 yards for a score this past week vs. Green Bay (9/28). The Buccaneers added a special teams touchdown when LB Geno Hayes recorded his first career blocked punt and touchdown as he recovered the ball and returned it 22 yards for the score against Carolina (10/12). It was the first blocked punt by a Buccaneer since David Gibson blocked a Mitch Berger punt at New Orleans (12/7/03) and was the first blocked punt returned for a touchdown since December 2, 2001 when Todd Yoder returned a blocked punt 11 yards for a score at Cincinnati (Nick Harris' punt blocked by Ronde Barber). This season the Buccaneers are tied for first in the NFL with 55 points off of turnovers and have scored at least seven points off of turnovers in five of the first six games this season (all but at Denver). Tampa Bay also took advantage of its opponents miscues last season, scoring 114 points off turnovers, fourth-best in the NFL.

Starting Fast

The Buccaneers are strangers to a halftime deficit in 2008. Through the first six games the Bucs have yet to trail at halftime and have allowed no more than nine points in the first half of any game. A huge part of the team's first half success is due to their second quarter play, where the Buccaneers have held their opponents to a meager 15 points in the frame while putting up 39 points of their own. When Tampa Bay heads to the locker room after the first half with a lead they are an extremely difficult team to beat, as they are now 41-7 under head coach Jon Gruden since 2002 when leading after the first 30 minutes.

In the Trenches

Through the first six weeks of the season, the offensive line has lived up to its billing as one of the strongest units on the team despite a foot injury to G Davin Joseph, which sidelined him for the first four games. The offense has rushed for over 130 yards in five of the first six games this season, including a season-high 178 rushing yards against Green Bay in Week 4 and are averaging 136.0 rushing yards per game good for sixth best in the league. RB Earnest Graham is second in the NFL with 5.6 yards per carry (min. 50 att.) and RB Warrick Dunn is tied for third in the NFL with 5.1 yards per carry (min. 50 att.) while the Buccaneers are third in the NFL as a team, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

Unlikely interceptors

The Buccaneers defense has registered an impressive 11 interceptions through the season's first six games, ranking tied for first in the NFL. Perhaps more impressive is who is contributing to the intercepting. Currently tied with rookie CB Aqib Talib for the team lead with two interceptions are LB Barrett Ruud and DE Gaines Adams. Coming into the 2008 season, the two had combined for two career interceptions… both courtesy of Ruud. Adams recorded his first career interception in the Week 3 win at Chicago, returning a QB Kyle Orton offering 45 yards for a touchdown, also a career first. In Week 4 against Green Bay, Adams picked off QB Aaron Rodgers late in the fourth quarter to help secure the victory. Not to be outdone, Ruud also notched interceptions in back-to-back weeks against Chicago and Green Bay. Among the current NFL leaders in interceptions, Ruud and Adams are the only players other than 49ers' LB Takeo Spikes not to reside in the secondary. Adams leads all defensive lineman in interceptions while Ruud is second behind only Spikes through six weeks.

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