The Bucs organization honored Ronde Barber with pre-game and in-game tributes, but his team honored the 16-year veteran with a 16-10 victory against Carolina. Barber, who had a sack and an interception against the Panthers, took to the podium following the game and told the media the win felt like "old times."
Sixteen-year NFL veteran Ronde Barber recorded his 200th career start in Sunday's 16-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers to begin the 2012 NFL regular season. Barber's 200th career start actually came at cornerback in nickel defense before playing the rest of the game at free safety, which is his new position. The 37-year old playmaker recorded his 28th career sack and his 44th career interception, in addition to five tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups against Panthers QB Cam Newton.
Barber's 28 sacks is the most among active defensive backs and 5.5 ahead of Arizona safety Adrian Wilson. His 28 sacks is also the most ever by an NFL cornerback – 11 more than Green Bay's Charles Woodson, who has 17. Barber, who is the seventh-leading sacker in team history, needs three more sacks to move ahead of former San Diego and New England safety Rodney Harrison, who had 30.5 in his career.
Barber has played in 225 consecutive games, which is tied with Washington LB London Fletcher for the most in the NFL among current players. He has played in 226 games during his NFL career, which is the most in Tampa Bay history – two ahead of linebacker Derrick Brooks.
You have been a part of a lot of special days, and this with your 200th start, what was this one like?
“This is a good one. Like I told you guys earlier in the week, it is nice to be recognized for something. I guess you play long enough and you get an opportunity to be recognized for something like this, but this was a heck of a game. This was fun. To watch this defense go out and play the way they played, I don’t think anybody really knew what we were going to get. We had one good showing in the preseason against New England. I don’t think I even knew how it would translate into Sundays. Today, the way we played, [is] something to be proud of. My individual performance is just a reflection of the way the defense plays as a whole. So I will pass that credit onto [defensive coordinator] Bill [Sheridan] and [head coach] Greg [Schiano] and all those guys that have put this thing together.”
What was it like to play with that energy on defense?
“It felt like old times when we were a great defense back in the day, and guys played so fast. You turn the film on and people would be saying to themselves, ‘They can’t possibly be this. This film is sped up. Can’t possibly be this fast.’ But that’s what it felt like out there. They had some very talented players and we swarmed on them all day long. Kept Cam (Newton) in check. Obviously, they had some breakout passes there at the end of the game, but when you can limit this team that completely dominated us on the ground last year to 10 yards, you can say we did something right.”During the week when you talked about playing your 200th you said it was just another game, but was it really?
“Well, it is not really just another game. I am having a huge party after this, so I guess – I don’t do that every week. It is just another opportunity for me to go so my job. Coach Schiano didn’t say anything about it all week. Not one mention of it. I think I appreciated that because not one guy is more important than other guy on this football team. He has made sure it is that way. Obviously, the Bucs think differently, but it was special to still play [and] to still get that opportunity.”Coach Schiano started you at corner?
“Yes, he told me before the game that was going to give me an opportunity. Was it important? I was like, ‘Well 200 is a nice even number.’ So he said, ‘Alright you are going to play nickel in the first snap no matter what they are in. You are going to get to 200 that way and then we will go about our business.’ It was a great gesture by him. It was much appreciated.”How was it playing with your position change?
“Football is football. Obviously, [a] position change. I have done some of it in the past, but I am just a football player. It doesn’t matter where I am lined up. I never really thought of myself of just a corner. I have played inside so much over the years and really since the beginning. So this is just another opportunity for me to challenge myself on the football field.”Can you talk about you all playing a little more cat and mouse with Cam Newton?
“Yes, we have some disguises in there. Trying to give them different looks. Cam is still a young quarterback. He is in his second year and he has got some learning to do, but he is a great talent. We figured as many looks as we could give him the better it would be for us.”Can you talk about the interception and the sack?
“The sack was just a hustle play. I didn’t know it was a sack until they came and told me they credited me with a sack. I was like, ‘Oh wow,’ but he just scrambled out of the pocket. It was a passing play. I tackled him behind the line of scrimmage. It was an easy sack. The pick – I've got to give credit to Aqib Talib. Obviously, I was in the right place at the right time. He made a heck of a play. He put his foot in the ground and came back on that curl. Balls are in the air. We've got to have them. That’s one of the things we practice every day. I don’t know if you all sit out there and watch us do the disruption circuit every day, but you've got to catch the tips and overthrows. That was one of them.”That stop on the goal line, were you anticipating for the Panthers to run the ball?
“I was definitely looking for them to run the ball. We were in our sub package – our dime package – and I was the inside 'backer. I've got to fit in there so I just put all 180 [pounds] that I had into however much he weighs, and we got off the field. It was a big stop for us.”Nobody was sure if you were going to come back for a 16th season, were you glad that you made that decision?
“I am glad. I was unsure, but I am certainly glad. This is completely a different experience for me. Obviously, with the new coaching staff we all know how much it has changed, but I have really been pushed, and Coach has really made an effort to push me into a leadership role with this team. I am enjoying it. I really am. There is a lot of impressionable guys on this football team. Young, impressionable guys that have great futures ahead of them. They told me that part of you coming back is so you can influence those guys and I am taking that to heart.”How much has it meant for you?
“It is like I said, it is appreciated. It certainly is. It is funny we were going over travel procedures one time during the preseason and we are talking about these young guys and how they've got to dress on the road. He came up to me after and was like, 'I couldn’t look at you.’ I am sitting there talking to a 37-year-old man telling him how to dress. So he – I think he understands what he has in me. I am like everybody else on this team – I am learning what I have in him as a head coach.”How important was it to get a win this early for all the hard work that you all have put in this preseason?
“He does a great job of preaching that this is a one-game season. This is a Carolina season. Next week will be the New York season, and we play them one at a time and search for wins the best way that we can. I think guys have bought in. His big saying when he first walked in the building was the 'sooner you guys buy into what we are trying to do the sooner we will win’ and that certainly came today.”How did the young kids like Mark Barron play?
“They played great. Because I got my start at corner, Ahmad Black got his first start [at free safety] and first interception there. So I can take credit for that (laughs). That’s me influencing the young guys. Both of those guys, specifically, and Lavonte [David], too, we were asking a lot of guys that have never seen any NFL action to go out there and not only start, but be guys that we are counting on. Lavonte caught every defense today. We hadn’t seen that all year, but [we] put that on him and he handled it well. I think we all see what we have in Mark. The hit on the sideline with Steve Smith I think is reminiscent of days past – some of the guys we have had play safety here. I look forward to those guys continuing to grow. They've got a lot to learn still and they will continue to get better. I definitely look forward to it.”Who got the game ball?
“Coach got the game ball. As well he should have.” – Victoria Horchak and Scott Reynolds contributed to this story
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