Midway through their season, the Bucs were unable to purchase takeout food for a month and a half.
In the past three games, Tampa Bay has achieved a total of six takeaways. Why the recent increase? Is it really just another example of the old adage “sales come in bunches?”
“I wish I could give you the answer to that — I would have tried to make it happen sooner,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday. “Like you said, they come in bunches. We’re working on it, we’re swiping the ball, we’re trying to get picks and everything else. We’ve had three in the last two games and it resulted in wins, so we’re just going to try and keep it up. No rhyme or reason.”
It’s hard to explain it away. Of course, if the Bucs had the answer to why they’ve taken the ball better in recent weeks, of course they would have started it sooner – as Bowles said.
In some cases, it has been luck that swung in their direction. Imagine if Sam Darnold just made a mistake in last week’s game.
At the same time, other turnovers have come from the Tampa Bay defense coming through and making great plays on the ball. Take Sean Murphy-Bunting’s interception against the Panthers or Anthony Nelson’s comic book bags in back-to-back weeks, for example. It’s been a mixed bag, but no one will complain about the “how” as long as the group continues to generate revenue.
Cornerback Carlton Davis, who had an interception against the Bengals three weeks ago to start the series of six in the last three games, echoed Bowles’ thoughts Wednesday.
“Man, I wish I knew the solution, but it’s like — sometimes it comes, and it comes in bunches,” Davis said. “At that point, you just have to take advantage of it and stay hungry. Like you said it just comes and now you just get them back to back and now the ball just finds you. So it’s just one of those things that you have to be patient with, but also stay ready.
Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was quicker to the point.
“They come in bunches,” Hicks said. “You’ve heard all the clichés — we’re just glad we got them.”
Bucs will have to keep the takeaways in the playoffs
Now that they’ve won the NFC South and will receive the NFC East runners-up in the NFC Wild Card Round, the Bucs are officially in the dance. At this point, their mediocre 8-8 record doesn’t matter. It’s all about getting warm at the right time, just like they did two seasons ago on their run to the Super Bowl.
“We’ve always said as a team, once we’re in [playoffs], there is no record,” Davis said. “It’s like you win or you
lose and you’re out. All things that happen in the regular season [don’t] matter. All that matters is Saturday or Sunday. So at that time it’s the best [team] will win.”
One of the keys to that run into Super Bowl LV was the Tampa Bay defense coming through with timely takeaways. In the NFC Wild Card Round victory over Washington, the offense stalled early before a Sean Murphy-Bunting interception set off a 58-yard touchdown drive.
The following week, the Bucs intercepted Drew Brees three times and forced a timed fumble by Jared Cook for a 30–20 victory in New Orleans. And in the NFC Championship Game, they intercepted Aaron Rodgers once and forced a key Aaron Jones fumble to beat the Packers. Then in the Super Bowl they intercepted Patrick Mahomes twice.
So, can Tampa Bay sustain its recent revenue streak? That could go a long way in determining how far the team goes in this year’s postseason, especially given the inconsistency of the offense.
It helps that Murphy-Bunting is playing his best football since that three-game streak in the 2021 playoffs. Davis’s interception against the Bengals broke a long drought, and the pressure that Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka have been putting off lately having created the edge can lead to fumbles.
The Bucs will try to keep their turnover streak going in Sunday’s regular season finale against the Falcons and their rookie quarterback, Desmond Ridder. If Tampa Bay can come up with a few more takeaways, maybe that will carry over to next week’s Wild Card game against whatever powerful attack comes to the city.
#Bucs #Defense #sees #takeaways #coming #droves