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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' secondary a primary concern after victory over Raiders



OAKLAND, Calif. -- The good news for the Bucs defense: It allowed just 22 rushing yards. The not-so-good news would be the Raiders’ 414 passing yards off QB Carson Palmer’s eye-popping 61 attempts.

It was not a pretty day in the Bucs’ secondary. CB E.J. Biggers was targeted throughout the day. Backup CB Myron Lewis played sparingly when rookie Leonard Johnson was shaken up and promptly gave up a touchdown pass. Even veteran Eric Wright was flagged for a critical pass-interference penalty on a fourth down, preserving a drive capped by a late touchdown.

And with former first-round pick Aqib Talib now property of the Patriots after Thursday’s trade, it’s a lineup the Bucs are going to have to make the best of.

“There is no excuse,” Biggers said. “We have to play until the clock says zero, no matter how many times we have to cover. They’re going to make plays. But we have to do our jobs and deny our man the ball. They made some plays. They have a great quarterback and some great players at receiver.”

S Ronde Barber, in his 16th season, has seen it all. But even he admitted the 61 pass attempts stressed a secondary with little depth.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been a game with that many passes thrown,” he said. “You just have to keep competing and it’s tough.”

Here’s the thing: When a team attempts that many throws, the opportunities for defensive plays are plenteous. And the Bucs made enough to escape with a win, intercepting Palmer three times, including twice in the game’s final three minutes.

Ironically, after struggling for much of the day, it was Biggers who came away with the clincher with 1:43 left.

“This team, the coaches, they expect me to make plays when they come my way. But at the end of the day, it’s a team game and a team win. . . Guys are going to make plays if we keep fighting.”

Johnson, undrafted out of Iowa State and a native of Clearwater, had his second straight strong performance. He made another interception, jumping a route in the third quarter when the pass rush closed in and caused a hot throw by Palmer to WR Denarius Moore.

[Last modified: Monday, November 5, 2012 1:57am]


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