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For the second straight week, a team runs roughshod over the defense. A running back goes for 163 yards. Two long TDs. So far, Jim Bates' scheme hasn't proved effective.

The bombs bursting in air come after the national anthem if you play in the Bucs' new defense.

For the second straight week, Tampa Bay was beaten with explosive, deep passes.

Trent Edwards tossed long touchdown passes to Lee Evans in the first quarter and Terrell Owens in the fourth quarter to lead the Bills to a 33-20 victory Sunday over the Bucs.

In between, the scheme under new coordinator Jim Bates allowed the unheralded Fred Jackson to rush for 163 yards on 28 carries.

Considering the Bucs gave up four pass plays of 40 yards or longer and 34 points in the 34-21 season-opening loss to the Cowboys, once proud defenders are finding all of the changes under Bates a little hard to embrace - like ball carriers.

"There are different things going on that are just not facilitating us being successful. It's not confusion or anything. It is familiarity," cornerback Ronde Barber said. "We've got to be familiar with how to make plays and win in this defense. We put a lot of work into what we're doing now. I think guys believe in it. We understand there are some stressful situations out there. We're going to have to make plays. Obviously, we haven't the first two weeks.

"I don't know if we'll change anything, but we've got to find a way to make plays in this system. That's the name of the game."

First-year coach Raheem Morris challenged his defense to stop the run with the front seven while trying to keep two safeties over the top to prevent big plays.

But Evans got things started by beating Barber in man coverage for a 32-yard touchdown. And Owens, who had been held to just two catches, electrified Ralph Wilson Stadium after hauling in a 43-yard pass over Aqib Talib.

This time, the Bucs didn't get much help from their offense.

Byron Leftwich was intercepted on consecutive drives in the first quarter, including one so badly overthrown to Cadillac Williams that safety Donte Whitner returned it 76 yards for a touchdown.

Those plays helped the Bucs dig themselves a 17-0 hole in the first quarter.

"We just have to play better, my gosh," Bates said. "And we will grow. We will grow. But these games, you can't get them back."

One defensive player who did bounce back was safety Sabby Piscitelli, who was involved in two of the three long touchdown passes against the Cowboys.

Sunday, Piscitelli intercepted a pass at the Bucs 6 to stop one drive and scooped up a Jackson fumble caused by Barber, returning it 72 yards to set up Williams' 8-yard touchdown catch from Leftwich.

But Jackson, a third-year pro from Division III Coe College, gained most of his yards after contact.

"Jackson ran through us," Bates said. "He ran hard with a good pad level and made us miss a lot, which hadn't been the case in any of the preseason games and the first game."

After two weeks under Bates, the defense is yielding 450 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry. To make matters worse, they might be without safety Jermaine Phillips, who injured his left thumb.

"Our deal was we wanted to stop the run in the seven-man front and contain (Jackson)," Bates said. "I'm not sure right now, but I can guarantee you at the end of the day, it's going to be missed tackles. It's just what it felt like. You can't allow anybody to run for 170 yards and expect to win."

To complicate matters, three of the defense's tackles were actually 15-yard face mask penalties.

So what's wrong?

Start with the line, which missed tackles but had two coverage sacks of Edwards.

"I really challenged my up-front people," Morris said. "We had to eliminate some big plays. We wanted to come out and play these guys with two high safeties. We had some switch looks, and Freddie Jackson did a nice job of taking the handoffs and making us pay for it."

Other than Barrett Ruud, the linebackers, Quincy Black and Geno Hayes, are young, inexperienced and missing tackles.

Finally, in the new defense, cornerbacks play a lot of bump, man-to-man coverage and live on an island. But lately, it has been more Rikers than a tropical paradise. Talib did an excellent job of shadowing Owens until the long touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"I wouldn't say it's the friendliest position for anybody," Barber said. "But we know we've got to win."

It won't get any easier. The Bucs' next three games are against NFC East teams: the Giants, then at the Redskins and at the Eagles.

"We have to do a good job as far as just keep chopping wood," Bates said. "We've got to grow, and we've got to grow fast. We can't just continuously give up this many points."

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