As players quietly changed and shuffled through the Buccaneer locker room following their listless 38-19 loss to the Carolina Panthers, a few players’ voices could be heard. One gave credit to Cam Newton, who burned the Buccaneer defense for four total touchdowns, three of them on the ground. Another talked about playing hard over the last four weeks.
One talked about not doing enough enough on defense, despite having a terrific individual game. If anyone in the locker room had a reason to feel something positive, it was DE Da’Quan Bowers. However, Bowers wanted none of it.
For the second straight week starting in place of the injured Michael Bennett at left defensive end, the rookie made a positive impression, this time racking up 8 total tackles, with 1.5 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. He even had a pass defended on the game’s first play, where he dropped into coverage and batted away a pass intended for TE Greg Olsen.
However, Bowers told ESPN Florida that his play matters little when the team loses.
“We’ve all grown, but Adrian’s been having a good year, not coming along slowly, but it’s not about me and Adrian. Unless the team reflects of what we’re doing, nobody says Bowers or Clayborn with the loss. It’s a team effort, so it all falls on a reflection of my team, of what we’re doing.”
In what has become a prevalent and recurring theme of the 2011 season, Bowers, who lamented his own offsides penalty in the second quarter that negated what would have been his third sack, said this team has to cut down on mistakes and quit stopping themselves.
““We had [Carolina] in some tough situations, [but] we just shot ourselves in the foot. Penalties—we had a lot of key penalties that kept their drives alive and that is all the momentum that type of team needs. They were feeding off momentum [and] we can’t just keep hurting ourselves and expect to win a ball game.”
Bowers’ improving level of play is starting to certify the value that Mark Dominik found by selecting Bowers in the second round, and, with Bennett continuing to battle a nagging groin injury, Bowers will likely continue to start opposite Clayborn at left defensive end.
If Bowers and Clayborn can continue to meet at the quarterback, like they did Sunday when they split a sack, and make some impactful plays in run support, maybe the locker room won’t be so quiet in the near future.