TAMPA — For the second time this season, Tampa Bay Buccaneers MLB Mason Foster showcased the fancy moves he flashed during his high school days in California, where he was named the Monterey County Player of the Year.
Foster’s 37-yard interception return for a score against the Falcons Sunday marked his second touchdown of the year off a pick. He also reached the end zone against New Orleans in Week 2, bringing back a Drew Brees pass 85 yards,
In both cases, Foster reversed his field and weaved through an array of potential tacklers.
“It was a great play and a great call,’’ said Foster, who suffered a concussion in the 41-28 victory against Atlanta. “I played a little fullback and quarterback in high school (Seaside) and in college I had a pick-six against Arizona (37 yards) when the ball went off someone’s foot.’’
OLB Dekoda Watson contributed to Sunday’s key interception by beating former Bucs RT Jeremy Trueblood off the edge and hitting Matt Ryan’s right arm, causing the ball to flutter directly to Foster.
“Dekoda did a great job of rushing the passer,’’ Foster said, “and it was a great play for our defense. He’s rushing hard, I’m playing hard and when you’re playing hard, stuff like that happens.’’
Foster hasn’t missed a game since the Bucs selected him out of Washington in the third round of the 2011 draft.
“I’ve never had a concussion before and it doesn’t worry me,’’ said Foster, who has two sacks to go along with his two picks this year. “We’ve got great trainers and I know I’m in good hands.’’
Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy took over the team lead with six sacks after dropping Ryan three times on Sunday, including on consecutive snaps in Atlanta’s opening possession.
After a three-game stretch with only two sacks, the Bucs have eight sacks in the past four weeks.
“You knew it was there, we had the ability to do it, there was just something missing,’’ McCoy said. “I never could really point that out, I just knew we weren’t finishing games. We had a lot of opportunities. I guess you can say, ‘Where was that earlier in the year?’ But you don’t want to look in the past, look to the future.’’
Tampa Bay has 22 sacks for the season as they head to Detroit to face Matt Stafford, who has been dropped only 12 times in 419 pass attempts.
“Yeah, we’ve got to work as a unit,’’ said McCoy. “I didn’t want to change anything I was doing, just keep trusting that the guys next to me are going to do their job and I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. And it all came together yesterday.’’
Drop in pressure
The Bucs played fast and loose against the Falcons, six days after edging Miami for their initial win of the season.
“Guys are upbeat and feeling better after getting that first victory,’’ said rookie DT Akeem Spence. “We’re just playing with a lot more passion, energy and enthusiasm. When you have that, it makes up for missed tackles and missed assignments. Getting that first win gives you that sigh of relief. Finally, you take a deep breath.’’
Coach Greg Schiano acknowledged that the first victory made all the difference.
“That first win is always the hardest and you’d love to get it opening week because once you get it out of the way, it’s not an issue,’’ Schiano said. “Certainly, it loosened us up, but I think our fans helped that a great deal. That Monday night crowd, the energy was incredible. I thought the energy was really good in our stadium (Sunday), and our players sensed that.’’
The Bucs overcame 11 penalties for 121 yards in beating the Falcons. ...Schiano indicated DE Da’Quan Bowers, who missed Sunday’s game due to concussion-like symptoms, should be available against the Lions. ...Rookie CB Johnthan Banks has a “painful’’ shoulder injury, according to Schiano. ...The Bucs placed veteran CB Michael Adams (knee) on injured reserve. Signed as a free agent in June, Adams registered 11 tackles and one sack in six games with Tampa Bay.