Takeaways turning into wins for Bucs
Bucs coach Raheem Morris may say that “stats are for losers.”
But arguably one of the biggest reasons the Bucs have won five of their first seven games is a plus-eight turnover margin, which ties them for for second in the NFL behind the Steelers (plus-nine).
The Bucs had four interceptions in their win over Arizona Sunday, scoring touchdowns on two of them.
“That’s one of our core beliefs around here - Buccaneer defense is always about score and get the ball back,” linebacker Geno Hayes said. “That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on. We came out and did that (Sunday).”
It’s no surprise that in the Bucs three road wins, they won the turnover battle in each of them. They have forced 18 turnovers, including 14 interceptions, sparked by a ball-hawking secondary.
Defensive tackle Roy Miller said coach Raheem Morris emphasizes in practice all the time the need to “cash in on our (opportunities)." And defensive players have taken that to heart, with Hayes saying they often get mad at themselves if they fail to take advantage of opponent's mistakes.
“There was a game when Aqib (Talib) almost had an (interception) and he was like, ‘Hey man, you should have made that play,'" Miller said. "And now, you see Aqib (Sunday) making those big plays (two interceptions). Rah does a good job of emphasizing that and making sure guys know that when there’s a play, you have to make it. And yesterday was an ultimate showing of that.”
Another key factor in this is how second-year QB Josh Freeman has taken care of the ball, throwing just three interceptions (to eight touchdowns), including no picks in the last three games.
“Plus-eight is always a good thing,” defensive end Stylez White said. “And (turnovers) are turning into wins more importantly.”
-- JOE SMITH