DEFENSIVE BACKS: A+
The Buccaneers secondary was blamed early in 2016 for the team’s struggles and looked downright foolish at times in the season.
Since the bye week though, this unit has gotten better each week and has become the strength of the defense as they’ve closed out games and come up with key plays in huge moments.
Tampa’s secondary held Cam Newton to under 100-yards passing in the first half and really buttoned down the offense after the first drive of the game when Carolina moved the ball with ease.
To start the second half though, the Panthers had the ball and were looking to extend their small lead when veteran cornerback Brent Grimes reacted perfectly to a pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr. and broke into the flat for an easy pick-six.
Surprisingly though, Grimes wasn’t the stud of the game for this group. Instead this honor goes to Keith “Tandyman” Tandy.
Keith Tandy had not one, but two interceptions off Newton, both on deep passes.
The first came on a throw intended for wide receiver Corey Brown who actually caught the ball in the air and had it ripped out by Tandy on their way to the ground. Upon review the play was confirmed, and it strongly supported the fact he’s been starting in place of the inconsistent Chris Conte.
His second pick of the afternoon came later on a lofted ball thrown over the head of tight end Greg Olsen and into Tandy’s hands. This one he returned 28-yards and set up his offense with great field position.
If this wasn’t enough, the career back-up also led the team in Week 17 with 12 tackles and was a big contributor to bottling up Carolina’s rushing attack.
He didn’t do it alone, but Tandy along with Grimes’ pick-six give this unit their highest grade of the season.