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Bucs defense keeps pressure on Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — Say this for the Bucs defense: You never know what you're going to get.

It might be the passive, coverage-heavy approach that failed in Sunday's 35-28 loss to the Saints.

Or, four days later, you might see an aggressive, in-your-face approach that succeeds, as in the 36-17 victory against the Vikings on Thursday.

The Bucs played defense with an edge, in terms of their scheme and the way players attacked ball carriers and the football. Press-man coverage, blitzes and lots of hands on footballs resulted in three sacks, seven tackles for loss and three turnovers.

It looked like the defensive football one would expect from a Greg Schiano-coached team.

"I think we definitely played with an edge," tackle Roy Miller said. "They say players mirror the image of their coach. Well, I think we definitely bring that attitude that (Schiano) brings, especially on defense."

That attitude manifested in tangible ways.

• The Bucs were stout against the run, allowing 76 yards on 20 carries outside of Adrian Peterson's 64-yard touchdown.

• Tampa Bay hit with force. It caused two fumbles, relentlessly attempting to strip ball carriers. Peterson and receiver Jerome Simpson were stripped by safety Ronde Barber and end Michael Bennett, respectively.

• And the Bucs weren't passive, instead going at the Vikings with an assortment of blitzes and twists.

"We just want to physically impose our will on the opponent," tackle Gerald McCoy said. "It was a physical performance. We played our brand of football."

The blitzes weren't new. But players have developed a trust level with Schiano so they can be successful with them.

"It was just a nasty mind-set," McCoy said. "Coach put us in position where a lot of people got one-on-ones. He told us, 'If I give you guys these blitzes, I'm trusting you to win (the matchups).' One thing he did promise was that nobody would be blocked by more than one person. So somebody had to win, and we did that."

Linebacker Mason Foster was successful with one blitz, sacking Christian Ponder.

The Bucs are beginning to believe their personnel is suited to this aggressive style, and they showed it multiple times.

"I feel like we have a lot of big, athletic, strong guys who play physical," Foster said. "So we're letting them … play loose and play physical. We love it."

Bucs defense keeps pressure on Vikings 10/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 1:59am]

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