Although Tampa Bay dropped its second-straight game of this young 2004 season by losing to Seattle, 10-6, the Bucs defense played exceptionally well against an explosive Seahawks offense. Anthony "Booger" McFarland, who plays the pivotal role of under tackle in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense, responded to the challenge of playing Seattle and recorded two big sacks to go along with four tackles. For his efforts, McFarland is named this week's PewterReport.com Pewter Player of the Game.
Seattle, which was one of the best offensive teams on third down last year, converted just 1-of-14 third downs (seven percent) against Tampa Bay. McFarland played a big role in that aspect, sacking quarterback Matt Hasselbeck twice on third down in the second half.
At times, McFarland's timely sacks and pressure was reminiscent of former Buccaneers legend Warren Sapp, whom McFarland replaced in the lineup this year when Tampa Bay chose not to re-sign Sapp.
The Seahawks' vaunted offense was held to just 182 yards as the Bucs defensive front dominated the line of scrimmage. McFarland and Co. did a great job of shutting down Pro Bowl running back Shaun Alexander, who was held to 45 yards on 17 carries (2.6-yard avg.). As a team, Seattle rushed for only 56 yards.
There were question marks about the Bucs' ability to shut down the run up the middle during the preseason. With Washington's Clinton Portis rushing for nearly 150 yards last week, those questions lingered coming into the Seattle game. But with inspired play from McFarland and others on Tampa Bay's active defense, the Bucs came up with the right answers today.
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