Young Bucs D-linemen showing growth

Posted Nov. 22, 2010 @ 7:44 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

The Buccaneers' defense has done a good job of bending but not breaking throughout the season. On Sunday, against an unimaginative 49ers offense, it didn't even bend. Tampa Bay became the first team in 33 years to shut out the 49ers, helping the Bucs to improve their record to 7-3 with a 21-0 victory.

The 49ers didn't have a drive of more than 40 yards all afternoon and they couldn't put together one that extended past their own 48-yard line in the second half.

The Bucs came within two sacks of doubling their season total, bringing down QB Troy Smith six times, and RB Frank Gore was kept from making a run longer than nine yards. He finished with 12 carries for a season-low 23 yards.

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The Buccaneers' young defensive line still has a ways to go and will be exposed against some of the league's better offensive lines, but it's often shown promise this season and was a major difference maker against San Francisco.

DTs Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller consistently won battles against the interior O-linemen, and they were instrumental in preventing holes from developing for Gore. Miller drove right through OG Chilo Rachal to tackle Gore for a loss of four yards in the first quarter, and McCoy had a sack and two other quarterback hits. He also deflected a pass.

Tampa Bay's pass rush has disappeared for long stretches in some games, but DEs Stylez G. White, Michael Bennett and Alex Magee each provided steady pressure and had at least one sack against the 49ers.

The Bucs have been challenged week after week to prove that they're for real, and the team is responding, albeit against not the greatest competition. They would make their most persuasive statement of the season by going to Baltimore and beating the Ravens, who are also 7-3, in Week 12.