Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is making crucial stops

TAMPA — The Bucs on Sunday continued a string of impressive second-half defensive performances, blanking the Ravens after giving up 17 points in the first half.

It has become a quality of the Bucs defense, clamping down in the game's most important stretches.

After holding the Ravens scoreless Sunday, the Bucs overtook the Bears and Packers as the stingiest second-half team in the NFL, allowing 72 points during third and fourth quarters this season. In five of 11 games, the defense has held the opponent scoreless in the second half.

If only the offense would have been up to the task Sunday, it might have mattered.

"I feel sorry that I couldn't do more," QB Josh Freeman said. "The defense shut them out in the second half, and they were on the field a lot. As an offense, you want to try to sustain drives and at least give them time to recuperate. But they came out and played a team with a tremendous quarterback in Joe Flacco and a very good running game with Ray Rice, and they stepped up and played a great game."

The defense, which was coming off a shutout of the 49ers, has allowed six second-half points in the past three games. Coach Raheem Morris said it's a product of a unit playing with a proper demeanor.

"They've been playing well all season," he said. "I told you before we're going to pride ourselves on playing fast, hard, consistent and smart. They've done that all season long."

But the defense didn't get the win. And that, players said, means it could have done more.

"We knew (the Ravens) had a good defense," DT Roy Miller said. "When you know the other team's defense is going to be strong, we as a (defense) have to put it on ourselves to go out there and create more turnovers or do something. It's a team game."

Defending Olson: Morris, asked whether offensive coordinator Greg Olson's play-calling Sunday was too vanilla compared with the audacious play-calling in recent weeks, defended his assistant.

"Oh, so let's throw Olie under the bus now," Morris joked.

Later, Morris added, "Our QB (Freeman), he'll be the first to come in here and tell you he didn't play as well as he's played. He wasn't as accurate as he's been."

Olson took some issue with Freeman's decision to force the ball down the field in situations in which he could have made higher-percentage throws, particularly on third down. Freeman completed 45.9 percent of his attempts (17-of-37), his worst effort of the season and the third-lowest percentage of his career.

Called out: Ravens CB Chris Carr singled out Bucs S Corey Lynch after the game for what Carr called a dirty blindside hit that left Carr with an injured hip.

"I got hit when I wasn't looking on a punt return," Carr said. " … I was just standing there, and some guy came up and wanted to de-cleat, so hopefully he should get fined for that. That's unnecessary. If there should be a fine, he should get fined for that. I haven't gotten hit like that since college."

Lynch wasn't available for comment Monday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is making crucial stops 11/29/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 29, 2010 9:35pm]

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