TAMPA — What kind of sequel did Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett offer on Sunday coming off his three-sack game in Week 2?
One better, and a record-setting pace of taking down the quarterback.
Barrett recorded a new career-high four sacks on Sunday afternoon, giving him eight through the first three games of the season. That matches the most by any player through the first three games of the season since the Jets’ Mark Gastineau recorded eight through the first three games of the 1984 season. The Bucs’ previous record for sacks through three games belonged to Warren Sapp at 5½.
“Just everything working perfectly,” Barrett said of his day. “The play calls, the guys in the back and the guys on the inside push, the push from the other edge with (outside linebacker) Carl (Nassib). So everything is working and I’m beating my guy one on one at the right time and making the play.”
Barrett’s day tied the Bucs franchise record for most in a game. Marcus Jones (2000) and Simeon Rice (2003) also recorded four-sack games. Sacks first became an official stat in 1982.
“He’s just wearing out left tackles,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s nice to be able to have confidence in that four-man rus to be able to play coverage and not have to blitz.”
Three of Barrett’s sacks came over a 10 defensive-play stretch at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter as the Bucs tried to put the game away after the Giants came within three points.
The Giants opened a drive at their own 19 when Barrett’s sack set them back 11 yards, and two plays later another sack (this time an eight-yard loss) but the Giants into a fourth-and-23 at their own 6.
After the Bucs turned the ball over on Jameis Winston’s first interception, Barrett sacked Jones again from behind forcing a fumble and causing a turnover when Rakeem Nunez-Roches recovered at the Giants 32. The Bucs converted it into a field goal to take a 31-25 lead.
Bucs bottle up Barkley before injury
The Bucs were focused on stopping Giants running back Saquon Barkley Sunday afternoon. They ended up knocking one of the league’s most exciting young stars out of the game with an ankle injury.
Barkley left Sunday's game in the first half after injuring his right ankle, and returned to the sideline in street clothes on crutches and wearing a boot on his right foot.
On the play Barkley suffered his injury, Mike Edwards was trying to wrap up Barkley low and had his right leg as Barkley tried to jump away toward the sideline.
Barkley tried to walk it off, but fell back to his knee on the Giants sideline and eventually had to be helped off the field with trainers. He received X-rays and was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
“We were going to stop Saquon,” Arians said. “That put us in a lot of one on ones, and we one some one on ones. Daniel Jones played a heck of a game, but we were going to make Daniel Jones beat us.”
Before his exit, Barkley was held to 14 total yards on 12 touches. He had just 10 rushing yards on eight attempts, which marked the second-year back’s lowest rushing total in 19 career NFL games.
Barkley watched from the sideline as the Giants rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to win, but would have rather have been a part of the comeback.
“Personally, it sucks,” Barkley said. “Because as a competitor, I just wanna be out there. That was the biggest reason why I was upset with the injury. I hate watching my teammates play without me.”
He entered the day having recorded 100 rushing yards in seven of his last nine games dating back to last season.
“Whatever (the injury) is, I promise you I’m coming back 10 times better and I’m going to try to return as quickly as possible," Barkley said.
Following a questionable call in last week’s Giants-Rams game, it’s clear that officiating crews are putting their whistles in their pockets.
Last week in New Orleans, Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s fumble was ruled an incomplete pass because the play was whistled dead, negating Cam Jordan’s return for a touchdown. That play garnered plenty of attention around the league, especially after last year’s controversial pass interference no-call in the team’s last meeting during the NFC Championship Game.
On Sunday, officials let two similar situations play out.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston lost the football on a third-and-7 at the Giants 9 late in the first half. It was initially ruled a sack and lost fumble, but after video review there clear and convincing evidence Winston’s arm was moving forward before he lost the ball, and the call was reversed to an incomplete pass, and the Bucs kicked a field goal.
The Giants had the same situation in the third quarter, when Jones lost the ball and it was initially ruled a Barrett sack and forced fumble. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David recovered the ball, but after a video review, the call was again reversed to an incomplete pass. The Giants retained possession but punted the ball away two plays later.
— Following an NFL mandate against using pyrotechnics on the field, the Bucs’ pregame introductions was without flames shooting out of pillars, but the cannons were still fired as players were introduced. The league made the mandate after pyrotechnics caused a fire on the field in Nashville during Week 1.
— Rookie receiver Scotty Miller was active for the first time this year Sunday, as was tackle Josh Wells. Reserve running back T.J. Logan, the team’s primary kick returner, saw playing time on offense for the first time this season.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.