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TOP FIVE DEFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE YEAR

1. HUNTING BUFFALO: One play against Buffalo epitomized the effort by linebacker Derrick Brooks. Coming on a blitz, Brooks tackled Bills quarterback Rob Johnson, then sprung to his feet and caught running back Shawn Bryson nearly 30 yards downfield before making the tackle.

"I ran too far not to hit somebody," said Brooks.

2. HARDY WHO?: Bucs middle linebacker Jamie Duncan had some big shoes to fill, replacing perennial Pro Bowler Hardy Nickerson. But he came into his own at Miami, intercepting a pass from quarterback Jay Fiedler and returning it 31 yards for the Bucs' only TD in a 16-13 victory.

3. WARREN'S WORLD: Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp posted a team-record 16{ sacks this season. But none was more memorable than his second takedown of the Rams' Kurt Warner. Wading through a double-team, Sapp crushed Warner just as he stepped up into the pocket and the air went out of RJS.

4. CHICAGO: NO HOPE: The Bucs' Donnie Abraham and Ronde Barber were perhaps the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. No play demonstrated this better than one against the Bears, when Abraham forced a fumble that Barber returned 24 yards for a touchdown in a 41-0 rout.

5. HERE'S TO YOU, MR. ROBINSON: It usually takes a late play by the defense in the fourth quarter for the Bucs to win. Brian Kelly tipped away a pass at New England to preserve a victory. John Lynch intercepted Warner to end the game against the Rams. But no pick was bigger than the one by safety Damien Robinson at Miami. Already in field goal range for Olindo Mare, the Dolphins took a shot at the end zone and Robinson picked Fiedler's pass at the 9-yard line with 14 seconds left in the 16-13 win.

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