Sterling Moore followed up an impressive performance last week against Odell Beckham Jr. with an even more impressive one this Sunday against Dez Bryant.

In a matchup that saw Bryant catch just five balls for 45 yards, Moore was responsible for breaking up a third-and-1 pass to the sideline during the fourth quarter, as well as being in lock-step with the Pro Bowl wideout on a throw to the end zone in the first.

Bucs CB Sterling Moore - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs CB Sterling Moore – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“When you’re flanked out on the X and Dez is over there, there’s a good chance the ball is going that way,” Alterraun Verner said, explaining the third-and-1 play. “(Moore) stepped up and made it very hard for him to make the catch, but that’s what he’s been doing. He did that to Odell and now Dez, two of the best. He’s been playing lights out.”

Verner also had one of his better games on Sunday. With three tackles, two of which on third down to stop tight end Jason Witten from converting, it’s clear the sixth-year pro is getting more comfortable in the nickel spot and embracing the range of responsibility the position calls for.

Still, it was Moore’s game against Bryant that received the majority of attention from players in the locker room.

“(Moore) did a great job against Odell Beckham last week, and to come this week and shut down Dez Bryant, I don’t know how many catches or yards he had, but (Moore) took him out of the game it seemed like,” Chris Conte said. “Sterling has been playing at a high level. He’s been a good player for us.”

Conte, for his part, finished the game with five tackles including one for a loss in the fourth quarter, as he continues to be physical in the run game. The fifth-year pro believes Sunday’s 10-6 win is the type of game that helps the defense turn the corner.

“We needed that,” he said. “The defense has got to feel like we came out and won this game. Obviously, the offense stepped up big at the end of the game, but to hold a team to six points – that’s something we haven’t done all year and I think it’s a big confidence booster for us.”

Gaining confidence starts with players gaining a better understanding of their role, something Conte feels is steadily happening as the season progresses.

“I think the ability has always been there. Guys just have to believe in the system and go out there and make plays. They’re starting to do that and I think they’re getting more comfortable out there.”

From Moore putting together two solid games in as many starts, to Verner’s improvement at nickel, to Bradley McDougald’s game-clinching interception, Sunday’s effort would seem to back Conte’s assessment.

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: [email protected]
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chetthevette

I wasn’t on board for the Conte signing, I stand corrected. In my view he is the best player in our secondary. My apologies for doubting you Chris.

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cgmaster27

I’ll echo that statement as I was not a big fan of the signing, but he has played very well. I guess most of us were just worried about his injury history.

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Horse

Conte looked better because the blitzed also helped him. He is doing better than what I had previously thought so I hope he keeps it up.

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surferdudes

Conte is one helmet, to helmet from the glue factory.

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76Buc

The haters are starting to back off, and some are manning up which is admirable, but some people just don’t want to be wrong, so they won’t admit it.

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scubog

Conte’s only issue in Chicago was that he was dinged a lot. What is surprising me is the improved play of the entire unit. I do expect to see a huge turnover in the secondary this off-season with Major Wright, Mike Jenkins and perhaps even Johnthan Banks being shown the exit.

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plopes808

No doubt, these 2 have proven to be great FA signings. Only question I have is why the hell did it take so long to give Moore a shot? We may be 1 shutdown corner away from a scary secondary!

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