Ronde Barber has been a part of some of the Bucs' greatest moments, games and seasons. What's more, he often has been at the center of the action, making the play that propelled them to victory. There are too many highlights to count in a career that spans 16 seasons, but we thought it appropriate to pinpoint Barber's greatest games.
No. 5: Dec. 4, 2005
Bucs 10, Saints 3
With the NFC South title in their sights, the Bucs could ill afford a slipup against the 3-8 Saints at LSU in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But the Bucs didn't look like a division winner that day, their offense producing only 10 points. That made big defensive plays all the more necessary, and Barber was right on time. He intercepted Aaron Brooks three times — with a combined 70 yards in returns — and made eight tackles.
No. 4: Sept. 10, 2000
Bucs 41, Bears 0
Barber is known as much for his ability to impact games as his 47 regular-season interceptions and 28 regular-season sacks. There might be no better example of this than one of the most thorough victories in Bucs history. Barber showed his versatility, recording a career-high 21/2 sacks against Cade McNown. He shared the first with end Marcus Jones then got a sack of his own, causing a fumble that linebacker Shelton Quarles recovered. And Barber dropped McNown for an 8-yard loss on the final play of the game.
No. 3: Dec. 23, 2001
Bucs 48, Saints 21
With the Bucs fighting for a playoff spot, there was little margin for error in this home game. Fortunately for Barber, Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks made quite a few mistakes. Barber, in the first of two such games, collected a team-record three interceptions off Brooks, slamming the door on threats and preserving the victory for the playoff-bound Bucs. Barber saved the best for last, returning his third interception 36 yards for a touchdown.
No. 2: Oct. 22, 2006
Bucs 23, Eagles 21
So how do the Bucs score 23 points on a day the offense doesn't find the end zone? By seeing Barber return two Donovan McNabb interceptions for touchdowns. Barber got the Bucs on the scoreboard first, returning a pick 37 yards in the second quarter. He outdid himself with a 66-yard touchdown return in the third quarter. Were it not for those scores, the Bucs would not have been in the game and certainly would not have had the opportunity to see Matt Bryant win it with a franchise-record 62-yard field goal as time expired.
No. 1: Jan. 19, 2003
Bucs 27, Eagles 10
The Bucs stood one win from the Super Bowl. In the NFC Championship against the rival Eagles and a packed house at storied Veterans Stadium — where the two previous seasons ended — the Bucs took a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter. But as the Donovan McNabb-led Eagles drove, the Bucs defense needed to make a stand. Enter Barber. With the Eagles at the Bucs 10 with 3:27 left, Barber faked a blitz, dropped into coverage and snared McNabb's underthrown ball at the 8. With no one catching him, Barber jogged the last half of the 92-yard touchdown for what most agree is the biggest play in Bucs history. "It was pretty sweet," Barber said that day. "Considering it was this stadium, dealing with these fans the way we've had to deal with them for the past two or three years, it was a pretty sweet feeling." He also had three tackles, a sack and four passes defensed that day.