Ronde Barber went to the Pro Bowl last season for the first time. Two games into this season, Barber is making sure it wasn't a once-in-a-lifetime trip. On a defense that secured a shutout for only the fifth time in Tampa Bay history, Barber shined the brightest, coming up with one big play after another. Barber broke up six passes and was fourth on the team with five tackles. Last week in the Bucs' overtime loss to New Orleans, Barber was one of the few bright spots. "He's on a roll right now,'' defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "He's in a different zone right now. I wouldn't keep throwing [No. 20's] way.''
If he keeps it up, Barber won't get the opportunity to break up as many passes as he did Sunday because offenses will think twice before throwing to the right side. Barber wants to build off last year and off every game. Not focusing on the positives and instead trying to correct the negatives is one way he stays on top of his game. "Every year is special for me,'' Barber said. "The opportunity to play this game, a game I love, and have a lot of fun doing it, that makes it special. If that's what's making me a great player, I'm going to keep doing it. I've still got things to work on … reads, getting my hands on receivers, little stuff. The little stuff makes you better and I'm trying to get better at that every day.''
RAVENS CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH
Karl Williams returned his fifth punt for a touchdown in Sunday's 25-0 victory. His 56-yard return with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter gave the Bucs a 10-0 lead. "Not bad for an old man back there,'' said Williams, 31. During his rookie season in 1996, Williams scored his first touchdown with an 88-yard punt return against Chicago. Last season, he scored on an 84-yard return against Detroit. Those are his longest returns for scores. He also had a 73-yard punt return TD against Buffalo in 2000 and a 61-yarder against Chicago in 1997. Against Baltimore on Sunday, the seven-year veteran credited the blocking scheme for getting him open. "That return was pretty much 10 guys up front,'' he said. "It made my job very easy back there … just read their blocks and run. Once I got to the sideline, I just had the kicker [Dave Zastudil] and I've had my share with kickers and I wasn't going to let him get me this time. I would never have heard the end of it.''
Williams heard enough talk in the preseason, something about being "on the bubble'' and possibly not making the final roster. It's talk Williams has heard every year and the subject that drives him. "That's what my whole career is about … proving people wrong and doing things that they say I couldn't do,'' Williams said.
RB Michael Pittman was carted off the field near the end of the third quarter because of cramping. He was taken into the locker room for treatment and later returned to the sideline. DE Simeon Rice sprained his left shoulder in the fourth quarter. He left the game momentarily but later returned. TE Ken Dilger suffered a right elbow contusion and S David Gibson sprained his left ankle. For Baltimore, RB Jamal Lewis suffered a rib contusion; S Ed Reed had an abdominal strain; LS Joe Maese suffered a thumb sprain; T Jonathan Ogden had a mild concussion in the fourth quarter and WR Brandon Stokley suffered a lower leg contusion.
Starting SLB Al Singleton led the defense with 10 tackles, including six solos. Ravens LB Ray Lewis had a game-high 17 tackles.
The Bucs' 17-play, 82-yard scoring drive in the second quarter was the longest in terms of plays since Oct. 9, 2000, when the offense had a 19-play, 71-yard drive against Minnesota.
The Bucs inactives Sunday were QB Shaun King, FB Darian Barnes, CB Tim Wansley, OG Russ Hochstein, OT Lomas Brown, WR Marquise Walker, LB Reggie Barlow and DT Buck Gurley.
THEY SAID IT
"It's as thorough a beating as you're going to get.'' Baltimore coach Brian Billick, following his team's 25-0 loss.