TAMPA, Fla. — It was just like old times for Ronde Barber.
Tampa Bay’s defense swarmed, the opposing quarterback squirmed, and the Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers 16-10 in their debut under coach Greg Schiano on Sunday.
The lone holdover from the Bucs’ Super Bowl champion of 10 years ago had an interception, sack and key stop on Cam Newton as a defense that allowed an NFL-worst 494 points contained the Carolina star to stop a 10-game losing streak that prompted the firing of former coach Raheem Morris.
“This was fun to watch this defense go out and play the way they played,” Barber said on a day he was honored for making his 200th consecutive start.
“I don’t think anybody really knew what we were going to get. We had one real good showing in the preseason against New England. I don’t think I even knew how it would translate to Sundays. Today, the way we played is something to be proud of,” Barber added. “My individual performance was just a reflection of the way the defense played as a whole.”
Schiano came to Tampa Bay after spending 11 seasons transforming Rutgers from one of the losingest programs in college football into a Big East contender.
The new Bucs defense is similar to one the coach ran with the Scarlet Knights and — for at least one game — produced the type of results that reminded Barber of some of the units he played on earlier in his career.
“It felt like old times, when we were a great defense back in the day, when guys played so fast,” Barber said. “You turned the film on and people would say, this film is sped up, it can’t possibly be this fast. That’s what it felt like out there. They have some very talented players, and we swarmed on them all day long, and kept Cam in check.”
Newton threw for 303 yards and one touchdown. But the Panthers were shut out in the first half, and the interceptions he threw thwarted Carolina’s chances of overcoming the slow start.
“They showed us some different things that we didn’t have a chance to prepare for,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.
“We made some adjustments in the second half and controlled the ball and moved the ball pretty well. Unfortunately, we had the big turnovers.”
Josh Freeman threw a 6-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass, and Connor Barth kicked field goals of 36, 20 and 40 yards for Tampa Bay, the latter set up by a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Bucs held the Panthers to 10 yards rushing, with Newton gaining 4 yards on five carriers and DeAngelo Williams managing minus-1 on six attempts.