If the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in victory formation Sunday with plans to let quarterback Tony Romo kneel and kill the remaining clock, they can expect a spirited surge from the Tampa Bay defense.
Buccaneers' first-year coach Greg Schiano defended that tactic, which he used to the chagrin of his opponent in the final 5 seconds of Sunday's 41-34 loss to the New York Giants, because he's seen it work in the past.
During a Monday news conference in Tampa, Schiano said his Rutgers teams forced four fumbles in the past five seasons using a similar technique. He stressed that the Bucs will continue to play until the final second despite postgame complaints from Giants coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, who called the move a "cheap shot."
"To me, it's a clean, hard, tough finish-the-game play. Some people disagree with that," said Schiano, whose move touched off a flurry of differing opinions from NFL analysts. "But I don't have any remorse or regret ...It was no sneak attack. We were down, ready to go and that's how we do it all the time."
Schiano, who spent 11 seasons at Rutgers before taking the Bucs job in January, saw his team recover a fumble in a kneel-down situation in 2009 against West Virginia, only to have the recovery nullified because of an offside penalty.
Former NFL coaches and players have offered differing opinions on Schiano's strategy. Those siding with Schiano cite a 1978 game in which Philadelphia beat the Giants, 19-17, on a 26-yard fumble return for a touchdown after a botched handoff as the Giants tried to kill the clock in the final minute.
Asked about Schiano's move, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said: "Certainly, there is a style of football they are trying to implement. ...We will just be aware of what happened in the past and make sure we handle it the right way on our end."
Terrific turnover margin
The Bucs (1-1) have the same record as the Cowboys (1-1) but feature one of the NFL's top marks in turnover margin: plus-3. The Cowboys forced no turnovers and lost two (one interception, one fumble) in Sunday's 27-7 loss to Seattle.
Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth has connected on a franchise-record 20 consecutive field-goal attempts, including kicks of 45 and 52 yards in Sunday's loss to the Giants. Barth said some of his success stems from the fact that, for the first time in his career, he is working with the same deep snapper (Andrew Economos) and holder (Mike Koenen) for a second consecutive season. Barth's streak still pales in comparison to Dallas kicker Dan Bailey, who made 26 consecutive field goals as a rookie last season.
Burned by blitzes
Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw for a career-high 510 yards in Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay. The Bucs allowed a franchise-record 604 yards in the 41-34 loss, giving up multiple big plays -- including an 80-yard TD catch by Victor Cruz -- in blitz situations. After reviewing video, Schiano said his defense will not shy away from blitzes despite failing to sack Manning.
"We're not a blitz-heavy team," Schiano told reporters in Tampa. "But, yeah, we're going to mix it up. That's who we are ...Sometimes you get there and it's great."
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760