Tampa Bay Buccaneers Stun Carolina Panthers the Old Fashioned Way

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer ISeptember 10, 2012

Ronde Barber turned back the clock on Sunday. (photo courtesy Buccaneers.com
Ronde Barber turned back the clock on Sunday. (photo courtesy Buccaneers.com

Not in your wildest dreams.

Certainly not in Cam Newton's.

Maybe in Greg Schiano's mind. 

Maybe in Ronde Barber's memory banks.

As improbable as it sounds, as impossible as it sounds the morning after, your Tampa Bay Buccaneers stunned the beejeebers out of the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon at Raymond James in a manner that brought back memories of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and yes, a young Ronde Barber.

They're all distant memories, except for Barber, who helped take us back to the defensive glory days of the Buccaneers as they flat-out stoned Newton and the Panthers, holding them to a franchise-record 10 yards rushing and sending them back to Charlotte with a 16-10 loss.

I need to repeat that again. TEN yards rushing. That would be Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert combined. What were the odds? Fact is, there were no odds, it sounded too ridiculous, too preposterous.

If you spent last week in Charlotte making that bet, you would have owned the city today.

Toes on the line.

This one was delivered the way new coach Greg Schiano promised. There was a ground game, there was control of the clock, there was defense! Let's say that again, one more time—there was defense.

And wouldn't you know it, on the day they honored Barber's 200th start, he played like it was his 50th start. Barber went "old school" Tony Dungy Ronde with five tackles, two passes broken up, an important interception and a sack of Newton.

Barber also made one of the game's key plays when he crashed into Newton and stopped the superstar quarterback on 3rd-and-goal from the Tampa Bay three late in the game. It was a game-saver. Help us Ronde.

What started with toes on the line and grumblings about Schiano's discipline ended with a season-opening victory, an important NFC South win. Your Bucs scored the fewest points of any Sunday winner, but they also gave up the fewest. Who would have imagined?

The offense was perfect. Not in the way it rolled up points, but in the way it took care of the football. No fumbles, no interceptions by Josh Freeman. A perfect 7-for-7 by Freeman in the opening drive that led to the team's only touchdown, a little flip to Mike Williams from the four.

Clock control. The Bucs had the ball for 37 minutes, 27 seconds and that was nearly 15 minutes, an entire quarter, more than the Panthers.

Toes on the line.

Schiano promised and his team delivered. So did rookie Doug Martin. He was the workhorse with 24 carries, 95 yards, and he should have gone over 100 but Freeman had the luxury of three kneel-downs to end the game.

Toes on the line.

Game ball to Brian Cox. Who thought his front seven would be nearly that good? Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, Roy Miller, Michael Bennett—they were all really, really good. Newton was sacked three times, pressured countless others. A lesser athlete might have been sacked eight times.

The linebackers answered the call. Lavonte David, spectacular. Mason Foster, solid. Quincy Black? Sure wasn't the Quincy Black everyone despised last year.

Then finally, the secondary. The venerable Barber, who Schiano started at corner to honor his service, led the unit. Mark Barron dealt out some brutal hits, exactly as advertised. Eric Wright and Aqib Talib were fine. Talib even got a crucial punt block when the team needed it. It was the first punt block in three years.

When the team was losing momentum in the game, the defense did something about it. Barber had his pick and Ahmad Black had another.

They made the Panthers turn the ball over. ZERO Buccaneer turnovers.

Oh yes, don't forget a perfect first half, no penalties. Try that one on for size. No first-half penalties. Last year, it was a miracle not to have a penalty in every offensive series.

Toes on the line.

The horrible losing streak from last year was buried. So were the memories of a team that didn't want to play.

Looks like this Schiano guy means what he says.

Toes on the line.

Attention to detail. Fundamentals. Discipline. Run the football. Control the clock. Play good defense.

Add 'em up and you get the upset victory.

But who would imagine the Carolina ground factory would produce 10 yards on 13 carries?

That's EIGHT-TENTHS of a yard per carry.

Let's try that again, all together—"EIGHT-TENTHS of a yard per carry."

Not in our wildest dreams.


Geraldini loves Greg Schiano:  OneBucSite.com