The Buccaneers’ defense had three interceptions in the second quarter of their narrow loss at the Meadowlands on Sunday, and each one was just a little bit better than the last.
LB Mason Foster picked off the first one but was tackled immediately at the Giants’ 28, setting up a three-play touchdown drive. A few minutes later, CB Brandon McDonald one-upped Foster by returning his interception 40 yards to the New York 13, where only two plays were needed to get it in the end zone. Just before the half ended, CB Eric Wright delivered the coup de grâce, picking off another pass and returning it 60 yards, all the way to pay dirt by himself.
Maybe there is some kind of competition between the Buc defenders, or maybe Greg Schiano’s more aggressive style of defense is simply paying off in one of the most important ways it can. Whatever the reason, a whole buncha Bucs are getting into the interception act.
Through two games, Tampa Bay already has five interceptions, more than a third of the 14 it had all of last year. Moreover, those five picks were recorded by five different players, and that’s the first time that has occurred in the first two games of the Bucs’ season in more than 30 years. In 1980, David Lewis, Norris Thomas, Mark Cotney, Mike Washington and Richard Wood all had an interception during the first two weeks of the season.
The Bucs have already tied their team mark for most picks after two weeks, something they had only done three times before. In addition to Foster, McDonald and Wright, Ronde Barber and Ahmad Black also have picks. There’s reason to think the trend can continue, and here’s one of the biggest ones: cornerback Aqib Talib isn’t on the board yet. Talib’s 17 interceptions over the last four years is the most by any Buccaneer in that span. Rookie safety Mark Barron may have something to say about it, too, as he has yet to record his first NFL pick.