The Cowboys had a very good game defensively against the Bucs, only giving up one touchdown while grabbing three sacks, and forcing penalties to avoid more sacks. They held LeGarrette Blount in check and did it with a lot of backups playing a lot of minutes. Here are the nominees for the top defensive play.
-- With 12:47 left in the first quarter, the Bucs had just reached midfield on a long Josh Freeman scramble. On 1st and 10 Freeman scrambles up the middle again, but this time the Cowboys' Anthony Spencer had been spying him while covering the tight end who stayed in to block. Spencer takes off to catch Freeman and strips the ball that Bradie James recovers.
-- On the Bucs second drive (8:44 in the first quarter) they are facing a 3rd and 1. Marcus Spears knifes past the right tackle to stuff Blount in the backfield forcing a punt. This was a tone-setter for the game.
-- With 10:31 left in the 2nd quarter, the Bucs have the ball 1st and 10. On two consecutive plays the Cowboys sack Freeman. First DeMarcus Ware speed-rushes past the left tackle, then Orlando Scandrick comes on a blitz from the other side and gets the second consecutive sack.
-- This play went unnoticed, but was big. With 8:11 left in the 4th quarter, the Bucs are at midfield trying to make a real game out of it. On 2nd and 3, the Cowboys blitzed from their right-side, with Sean Lee also blitzing up the middle. The Bucs had the perfect call, a screen to the blitzing side. It was all set up for a huge gain, but Lee read the blitz, reversed course to the running back and made an ankle tackle for a 1-yard loss. The Bucs eventually converted the fourth down, but Lee's tackle prevented a huge play.
-- The closer. Jason Hatcher, Victor Butler and Alex Albright converge on Freeman on a 1st and 10 with 6:43 left in the game. Freeman is forced to throw and gets an intentional grounding penalty, severely hurting the Bucs chances at a comeback..