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Bucs Defense Truly Seeing Takeaways Come In Bunches

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By: Bailey Adams

For a month in a half in the middle of their season, the Bucs simply could not buy a takeaway.

Over the last three games, Tampa Bay has totaled six takeaways. Why the recent uptick? Is it really just another example of the old adage “turnovers come in bunches?”

“I wish I could give you the answer to that – I would have tried to make it happen earlier,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday. “Like you said, they come in bunches. We work at it, we swipe at the ball, we try and get picks and everything else. We’ve had three the last two games and it resulted in wins so we’re just going to try to keep it up. No rhyme or reason.”

It’s hard to explain it away. Of course, if the Bucs had the answer as to why they’ve been better at taking the ball away in recent weeks, they would’ve started doing it sooner — as Bowles said.

In some cases, it’s been the luck swinging in their direction. Consider Sam Darnold simply mishandling a snap in last week’s game.

Bucs OLB Anthony Nelson – Photo by: USA Today

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 strip-sacks 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 create turnovers.

Cornerback Carlton Davis, who had an interception against the Bengals three weeks ago to start the run of six in the last three games, echoed Bowles’ thoughts on Wednesday.

“Man, I wish I knew the solution, but it’s just like – sometimes it comes, and it comes in bunches,” Davis said. “At that point, you’ve just got to take advantage of it and stay hungry. Like you said, it just comes and now you’re just getting them back-to-back-to-back and now the ball’s just finding you. So, it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to be patient for, but also stay ready.”

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was quicker to the point.

“They come in bunches,” Hicks said. “You’ve heard all the cliches – we’re just happy to have them.”

Bucs Will Need To Keep The Takeaways Coming In The Playoffs

Now that they’ve clinched the NFC South and will be hosting 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 hot at the right time, much like they did on their run to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

“We’ve always said as a team, once we get in [playoffs], there’s no record,” Davis said. “It’s like you win or you

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: USA Today

lose and you’re out. All the things that happen in the regular season [don’t] matter. The only thing that matters is Saturday or Sunday. So, at that point, it’s the best [team] is going to win.”

One of the keys to that run toward Super Bowl LV was the Tampa Bay defense coming through with timely takeaways. In the NFC Wild Card Round win over Washington, the offense stalled early before a Sean Murphy-Bunting interception set up a 58-yard touchdown drive.

The next week, the Bucs intercepted Drew Brees three times and forced a timely Jared Cook fumble in a 30-20 win at New Orleans. And in the NFC Championship Game, they intercepted Aaron Rodgers once and forced a key Aaron Jones fumble in a win over the Packers. Then, in the Super Bowl, they intercepted Patrick Mahomes twice.

So, can Tampa Bay sustain its recent turnover streak? That may go a long way in determining how far the team goes in this year’s postseason, especially given the offense’s inconsistency.

It helps that Murphy-Bunting is playing his best football since that three-game interception streak he had in the 2021 playoffs. Davis’ interception against the Bengals broke a long drought, and the pressure that Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka have created off the edge lately can lead to sack-fumbles.

The Bucs will look 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 another takeaway or two, perhaps that’ll continue to carry over into the following week’s Wild Card matchup against whichever high-powered offense comes to town. 

The post Bucs Defense Truly Seeing Takeaways Come In Bunches appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report