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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Johnson's pick-six sparked Bucs before half



DETROIT -- Momentum shifted sharply to the Bucs just before halftime, when cornerback Leonard Johnson picked off a Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead, one of five turnovers forced in a 24-21 Bucs victory.

Johnson, the former Largo High star, anticipated a dumpoff pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew and jumped the route -- Pettigrew actually ducked as he didn't see the pass coming -- and he eluded Stafford, then made a diving flip into the end zone.

"I saw it and jumped the route and picked it off, took it in," said Johnson, who also had a pick-six last year against the Chargers. "Our coach said earlier in the week that it was going to take everybody on the back end to step up and play the best game we can possibly put together. He calle us out and told us we need to step up to the challenge."

Johnson had one of five takeaways, and following Mason Foster's touchdown last week against Atlanta, the Bucs have touchdowns off interceptions in back-to-back games for the first time in more than a decade, going back to the 2003 season. Stafford hadn't thrown more than two picks in a game this season and hadn't thrown four in a game since his rookie season in 2009.

"We made five takeaways. I've never been a part of anything like that," Johnson said. "Our defensive line played phenomenal. The quarterback was out of the pocket the whole game. We came up big today."


[Last modified: Sunday, November 24, 2013 5:58pm]


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