Barber, Lynch Give Total Access to Super Bowl Memories

During halftime of the most important football game of his life, Ronde Barber turned on a TV in a back room by himself and watched Gwen Stefani, Sting and Shania Twain perform.

No Xs and Os on the chalkboard, no treatment from the trainers, no quiet contemplation of the second half to come.  Nope, just “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” “Just a Girl,” and “Message in a Bottle.”

This was the elongated halftime of Super Bowl XXXVII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and Barber was looking for a way to pass the time before his team could resume their 20-3 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders.  The Buccaneers cornerback wasn’t nervous about the rest of the game.  He was bored.

“One indelible memory for me on Super Bowl Sunday was, the game wasn’t really a game, and we’re in halftime,” said Barber.  “It’s like a 25-minute halftime, and I’m actually sitting there bored and I turn on the Super Bowl and watch the halftime show in the locker room.”

Barber shared this story on his “Total Access” radio show on Tuesday night, during which he welcomed a special guest in his Super Bowl teammate, John Lynch.  Continue reading

No Rookie Wall for David

The night before the Lavonte David’s Buccaneers played the Broncos in Denver on Sunday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers finished up their regular season in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin.  Nebraska won’t play again until January 1, in the Capitol One Bowl against Georgia.

That means if David was still in Lincoln, rather than playing in the NFL as a rookie with the Buccaneers, his season would be essentially over.  In fact, counting the NFL preseason, he has already played three more games than his old college buddies on the ‘Huskers.  This is what analysts call “The Rookie Wall,” that point in a player’s first NFL season where the extra work catches up to him and his production tails off during a month in which he had become used to resting.

If there was a rookie wall in front of David, however, it looks as if he has flown right over it.  Instead of dipping, his production has actually spiked in the second half, and he may be coming off his best game yet in Denver. Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Will Bucs Defense Be a Hit or a Miss vs. the Eagles?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had unexpected fantasy success at each of their offensive positions. Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Connor Barth and Mike Williams have all come alive since the bye week and all currently sit at a higher fantasy point ranking than they were predicted during drafts. And within the last five weeks, tight end Dallas Clark has made his emergence as well, making his way onto fantasy teams by way of three touchdowns in his last four games.

The only fantasy football position that has been unreliable this year out of Tampa Bay has been the defense. In terms of fantasy points, that crew has been all over the board: four games of 12 or more points; five games of two or fewer. Their highest-scoring performance of the year came in Week 10 against the San Diego Chargers at home when they put up 17 points. In the three games since: a total of seven points.

It is certainly not a trustworthy play this week, but looking at the Buccaneers this season and looking at their Week 14 opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, might make them a solid sleeper play if you are in a pinch. Continue reading

Kiffin Joins Super Bowl Reunion

The primary architect of one of the greatest defenses in NFL history will be on hand this weekend to celebrate the crowning achievement of that group.

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers announced that Monte Kiffin, the team’s defensive coordinator from 1996-2008, has joined the list of returning alumni from the 2002 Super Bowl championship team.  Tampa Bay will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of that Super Bowl victory with a reunion of the ’02 team, capped by a halftime ceremony during Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium.

With Kiffin now headed to town, the reunion is remarkably complete.  Continue reading

Foster Celebrates Super Bowl Reunion…Sort Of

Mason Foster was 13 years old and already a big football fan when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.  He was about to enter high school, where he would emerge as a prep star on the gridiron, mostly playing linebacker.

As a nascent linebacker, it’s not surprising that the play he remembers most from that big game in January of  2003 is the one that caused Buccaneers radio man Gene Deckerhoff to exclaim, “There’s the dagger! The Bucs are going to win the Super Bowl!”  With the Bucs holding on to a 34-21 lead with a little less than five minutes to play, linebacker Derrick Brooks intercepted a Rich Gannon pass and returned it 44 yards for the title-clinching score.

Yes, Foster, now a Buccaneers linebacker himself, remembers that play.  Just not necessarily fondly. Continue reading

Buc Radio Shows Take on Super Bowl Flavor

All season Buccaneer fans have been tuning into 620 WDAE-AM in the evenings to hear Tampa Bay players discuss the latest topics surrounding the team.  Whether it’s Gerald McCoy breaking down the Bucs’ latest defensive effort or Josh Freeman talking about the challenges of the team’s upcoming opponent, listeners have been able to get their Buccaneer analysis straight from the source…and sometimes even ask the questions themselves.  The radio show series is called Total Access for a good reason.

This week, the Buccaneers are offering their fans double the access during drive time.  With the team counting down to Sunday’s 10-year reunion of the 2002 Super Bowl team, the nightly radio shows are going to feature an unprecedented combination of Buccaneers past and present.

Tune in on Monday night, for instance, and you can hear Mike Williams talking about his big touchdown catch in Denver and Keyshawn Johnson sharing his Super Bowl memories.  Freeman is trying to take his team to the same heights that Brad Johnson did a decade ago…they’ll talk about it together on Friday night.  Here is this week’s schedule of Buccaneer radio shows, each one featuring a very appropriate Super Bowl guest:

  • Monday: Total Access with WR Mike Williams, featuring former Buc WR Keyshawn Johnson
  • Tuesday: Total Access with S Ronde Barber, featuring former Buc S John Lynch
  • Wednesday: Total Access with DT Gerald McCoy, featuring former Buc DT Warren Sapp
  • Thursday: Total Access with QB Josh Freeman, featuring former Buc QB Brad Johnson

Every week, Friday’s Total Access show features a different Buccaneer player, and the Buccaneers will soon be announcing another pairing of current and former stars.

Each Total Access show runs from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. ET on 620 WDAE-AM.  Fans can call in to talk to the hosts at 1-800-596-BUCS (2827).

Seahawks Gain Edge in NFC

Russell Wilson’s 97-yard drive in Chicago on Sunday and Seattle’s subsequent 16-13 win in overtime not only cost the Bears their hold on the NFC North but it put the Seahawks in the pole position for the final lap of the NFC Wild Card race.

Seattle, of course, will still be trying to make up the 1.5-game difference in the NFC West standings with San Francisco, but at the very least they now control their own playoff destiny.  That’s because the other two teams that went into Week 13 with 6-5 records, the Buccaneers and Vikings, both lost to fall to 6-6.  No tiebreaker necessary at the moment; the Seahawks have the #6 seed and will be guaranteed of at least that spot if they win out.

But, of course, winning out is a tall order, especially since the Seahawks have three more division games to play and they are currently 0-3 against their West opponents.  All of the 6-6 NFC teams – a club that also includes Dallas and would grudgingly welcome the Redskins if they beat the Giants Monday night – have plenty of reason to believe they can make up that one-game difference and pass (at least) the Seahawks to get into the postseason. Continue reading

Bucs Draw Foles on Sunday

The last time the Eagles came to Tampa, the Raymond James Stadium crowd had barely finished watching a video reminder of Ronde Barber’s 92-yard pick-six off Donovan McNabb in the 2002 NFC Championship Game when Barber did it to McNabb again.  And again.  In a contest that would end with an historic 62-yard game-winning field goal by Matt Bryant, Barber made history too with a pair of interception return touchdowns in the same game, tying an NFL record.

McNabb is out of football now and his replacement, Michael Vick hasn’t played since November 11 due to a concussion.  It is Vick’s replacement, rookie Nick Foles, who will have to avoid a similar indoctrination from the Buccaneers’ ultra-experienced, 37-year-old safety. Continue reading

Honey, It’s Triplets!

Midway through November, we noted in the Captain’s Blog that former NFL star-turned-studio analyst Marshall Faulk had begun referring to Josh Freeman, Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson as the Bucs’ new “triplets.”  It was an obvious reference to the Cowboys’ 1990s trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, who spawned that term and who are all now in the Hall of Fame.

Freeman, Martin and Jackson are indeed one of the most prolific QB-RB-WR combinations in Buccaneers history, perhaps the team’s best trio at those positions ever.  As of the end of Sunday’s game in Denver, with one quarter of the season to go, they are already just the second combo in franchise history to hit 3,000 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards all in the same season.

The only other such occurrence in Buccaneers history came in 1984, when Steve DeBerg passed for 3,554 yards, James Wilder ran for 1,544 yards and Kevin House caught 76 passes for 1,005 yards.  That was an impressive achievement by those three and should still be celebrated by Buccaneers fans.  Wilder, of course, is still the top running back in franchise history, though one can certainly imagine Doug Martin eventually making a run at his records.  DeBerg had several strong years during two different stints with the team and House is one of the best big-play receivers in Buc annals.

By many measures, however, the Bucs’ current trio is operating at a higher level.

Again, it’s hard to find much to criticize in Wilder’s 1984 efforts, given that he set the still-standing Buccaneer record with 1,544 yards; set a then-NFL record with 407 carries; caught a team-leading and then franchise-record 85 passes (for another 685 yards) and scored 13 total touchdowns.  His 2,229 yards from scrimmage remains a team record by a margin of almost 600 yards.

Martin is keeping pace, however.  He has 1,106 rushing yards through 12 games, which is a pretty reliable pace for 1,475 yards at the end of the season.  He is also on pace for 13 touchdowns and 1,973 total yards from scrimmage.  That means he would tie one of Wilder’s records and get far closer to the other two than anybody has in the last 28 years.  In addition, Martin’s mark of 4.7 yards per carry is far better than the 3.8 that the workhorse Wilder put up in 1984.

DeBerg’s 3,554 passing yards were also a team record at the time and they still rank fourth on the team’s single-season list (Freeman is one of the QBs to top it since, with 3,592 last year.  Otherwise, DeBerg threw 19 touchdowns versus 18 interceptions, took 35 sacks and had a yards-per-pass-attempt mark of 6.98.  He also was not the starter to open the season, as Jack Thompson had that job.

Freeman is at 3,003 yards through 12 games, which means he is almost exactly on pace to become the first 4,000-yard passer in franchise history.  With his next two games coming against the 17th and 32nd-ranked defenses in the league – earlier this year he torched New Orleans for 420 yards – there’s reason to be optimistic about Freeman keeping up that pace.  He also already has 23 touchdowns while throwing just eight interceptions, and his passer rating is 92.1, well above DeBerg’s mark of 79.3.  Freeman is on pace for 30 touchdown passes this year but needs just four more to break Brad Johnson’s single-season Buc record of 26.

Jackson has already surpassed his 1984 counterpart, too, with 1,014 receiving yards to House’s 1,005.  House had several seasons in which he put up a very high yards-per-catch average, but in ’84 it was just 13.2  House also scored five touchdowns that season, while Jackson already has seven.  The Bucs’ current number-one receiver is averaging a league-best 20.3 yards per catch and is thus on pace for 1,352 yards, which would be the second-highest total in franchise history.

DeBerg, Wilder and House established one of the landmarks in franchise history with their matching milestones in 1984.  The team’s newest set of triplets is establishing another one, and perhaps in more impressive fashion.  The best part: With Martin and Jackson in their first seasons with the team and Freeman still just 24 years old, this looks like just the first chapter for this prolific set of triplets.

Broncos 31, Buccaneers 23: End of Game Stats

The Denver Broncos were able to convert a first down and Peyton Manning took two heavily challenged kneel-downs to close the game with Broncos on top 31-23. The win clinches the AFC West for the Broncos, while the Buccaneers are still in the thick of the NFC Wild Card Race at 6-6.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning ended the day with 242 yards passing on 27 completions. He threw for three touchdowns and one interception. His first touchdown of the day was a one-yard connection to DT Mitch Unrein who was in the game as an extra blocker. The other two landed in the hands of WR Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas ended the day as the Broncos’ leading receiver with eight receptions for 99 yards. TE Jacob Tamme added 89 yards on nine catches. WR Eric Decker had a quiet day with two receptions for 17 yards.

On the ground, the Broncos were led by RB Knowshon Moreno how had 69 yards on 20 carries. Ronnie Hillman added 29 yards.

Cornerback Chris Harris tied LB Von Miller for the lead in tackles with six. Von Miller was also a disruption adding one sack, one interception and a forced fumble.

For the Buccaneers, QB Josh Freeman tied Manning’s yardage output with 242. He hit on 18 passes with two touchdowns and one interception.

His first touchdown went to Dallas Clark in the first quarter from 11-yards out. Clark added two more catches in the game, finishing with 19 yards. WR Mike Williams was on the receiving end of Freeman’s second TD. He ended the day as the Bucs’ leading pass-catcher with 93 yards on six grabs. WR Vincent Jackson has three catches for 55 yards.

RB Doug Martin fell just two yards shy of 100 all-purpose yards; the first time he hasn’t broken the 100-yard mark since the Week Five bye. He had 56 rushing yards on 18 carries and added three receptions for 42 yards.

Connor Barth attributed 11 of the Buccaneers points. Two were on extra points, the other nine come on field goals from 31, 50 and 55 yards out. His two 50+ yard kicks gives him six from that distance this season, setting a Buccaneer record.

LB Lavonte David again was the Buccaneers’ leading tackler with 10. He also pulled down an interception and three tackles for a loss. The Buccaneers finished with seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

The Buccaneers will play their next game at Raymond James Stadium when they host the 3-8 Philadelphia Eagles. The game is a 1 PM kickoff next Sunday. The game is a rematch of the 2002 NFC Championship Game won by the Bucs on route to the Super Bowl. At the game, the Buccaneers will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Super Bowl Championship with a halftime show featuring players from the team.