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Finally, a full game of quality defensive play

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Somebody pinch me. I witnessed a Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense play 60 minutes. The Bucs won an ugly, ugly offensive game, 10 - 6. It brought tears to my eyes as the defense played amazingly as our offense struggled. Before this game, I had lost all confidence in the defense and thought the only way the team would win is if the offense can score and score often. That was what the past eight games of patterns had reflected.

Tampa Bay's Basic stats before the game

Defensive Passing:  10th (240 yards/game)

Defensive Rushing:  15th (108 yards/game)

Points Against:  29th (28.9 ppg)

Dallas' Basic stats before the game

Offensive Passing:  24th (225 yards/game)

Offensive Rushing:  8th (128 yards/game)

Points For:  26th (20.0 ppg)

Here is what transpired in the game for the defense:

Dallas Offense vs TB Defense
Dallas Tampa Bay TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Pre-Game Stat Game Stat
Passing yds 225 174 -51 77.3%
Rushing yds 128 42 -86 32.8%
Points 20.0 6.0 -14 30.0%

Having negative differential stats are all good stats for the defense. That means Dallas' offense was stifled in all three aspects of passing, rushing, and scoring.

TB Defense vs Dallas Offense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives Totals
1 1 3 9 Punt 0
2 12 28 FG 1 3 0
3 7 34 FG 3 0
4 8 34 Missed FG 0 0
5 4 21 Punt 0
3 6 6 23 Punt 0
7 5 25 Punt 0
8 5 32 Punt 0
9 3 9 Punt 0
10 3 11 INT 0
Total 10 56 226 1 6 0 0 0 0 0 0

Take a close look at the long drives charting. Notice that there are zeroes across the board.  In the two seasons under covering the Lovie Smith regime, this is the first time the defense has not given up a drive of 40 yards or more on defense. For Drives 2 and 3, the special teams gave up a punt return of 22 yards and a kick return for 26 yards.

There are a total of six forced punts in this game. And only one turnover, which occurred on the penultimate play of the game as well as sealed the win for the Bucs. I like punts.  I like punts more than turnovers. This works into the narrative of playing solid defense is better than trying to force turnovers.

Also note that the Dallas offense ventured into the Red Zone once. They failed to score a touchdown. This marks a 0% efficiency rate for the game as well as the first time it pitched a shutout in the Red Zone.

Zero long drives, zero Red Zone touchdowns, and zero touchdowns. All of these blank stats represent a clean sheet for the Bucs defense.

Weak side line backer Lavonte David lead the defense with a sack, a tackle for a loss (TFL), and 12 total tackles - six more than any other defensive player. Someone is channeling their inner Greg Schiano as LVD stood out from amongst his peers for this game.

Conclusion

This game was a great showing by the defense and the win hangs onto their shoulders. A clean sheet on the Red Zone, Touchdowns, and long drives reveals just how dominate this game was as it reduced the scoring for Dallas' offense to 6 points only.

I do not know if the defense can reproduce this effort again, but for one week we all got a glimpse of what we fans have been waiting for since the season ended last year - a strong defense.