Give some credit to Vernon Hargreaves for both Bucs interceptions Sunday, says Lavonte David and Keith Tandy.
On the first pick, with the Chargers backed up at their own 8-yard line and leading 14-10 late in the third quarter, the rookie corner broke up a quick slant intended for Tyrell Williams, tipping the ball in the air and allowing for David to make the play of the game on defense.
“It was just a great play by Vernon Hargreaves with tight coverage on a receiver,” David said. “It’s a pass that they do that we studied for and Vernon Hargreaves made a great read on it. He got a hand on it, all the guys ran to the football and I was lucky to be the first to get it.”
That wouldn’t be the last time Hargreaves’ preparation paid off.
With three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay leading 28-21, Hargreaves recognized a formation and warned the safeties of a deep-out route. His instincts were spot on and Tandy iced the game with an interception, later acknowledging the 21-year old pro as acting more like a veteran corner on the play.
“They came out with a formation that we’ve seen on film,” Tandy said. “Then actually it was the rookie, Vernon Hargreaves, who said, ‘Hey, watch this route.’ And they ran a route that he called, so I just tried to make sure that I had good eyes and turned when I got in phase with the wide receiver.”
The recent emergence of second-round pick Noah Spence has been well documented, but the Bucs first-rounder has been just as impressive during this four-game stretch. Coordinator Mike Smith deserves a great deal of credit for the defenses’ progression over the last month – which is perhaps best exemplified by the maturation of rookies.