Bucs cut back on blitzes to rush Matt Ryan
ATLANTA -- Few teams have protected their quarterback as reliably this season as the Falcons, who had given up just 26 sacks entering Sunday’s game, fifth fewest in the NFL.
But you might not have guessed that considering how the Bucs unleashed an assault on Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who was sacked only twice but was under duress throughout the game.
And the Bucs notably accomplished the feat without using the endless number of blitzes they’ve come to rely on. Instead, they rushed mostly with their primary four defensive linemen, who won enough matchups with Atlanta’s blockers to keep Ryan on the run.
“That’s it. It was the four of us,” DE Da’Quan Bowers said. “Anytime you can get pressure on the quarterback with just four guys, it’s an amazing feeling.”
S Ronde Barber said, “The few (blitzes) we did bring were really run stoppers.”
The Bucs haven’t consistently pressured quarterbacks for most of the season, entering the game ranked 30th with 25 sacks. Going into the postseason with Sunday’s performance might be a foreshadowing, Bowers said.
“I think we put some good film out there despite the five-game losing streak,” he said. “There’s a lot to build off of. We see what we’re capable of doing.”
DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim registered a sack, as did LB Lavonte David on one of the few blitzes used in the game. Most of the six hits on Ryan came from defensive linemen, including Bowers, DT Gerald McCoy and DE Michael Bennett.
“We’ve been through ups and downs,” DT Roy Miller said. “We wanted to go out there and put our identity out there. It wasn’t there for the last few games. We just wanted to go out and fight and put it on film. We needed to do it for each other and for the coaches.”