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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unable to run, Bucs' opponents succeed through air

Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 02:17 AM

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Mark Barron says opponents continue to have success throwing the ball because they really don't have any other option.

"People know it's hard to run the ball against us, so they feel their best option to win the game (is to throw),'' Barron said. "They just know they're going to have a hard time running against us.''

The Bucs have stingiest rush defense in the league, where they allow only 81.5 yards per game. Their pass defense, however, continues to be the league's most forgiving.

After Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan lit the Bucs up for 353 passing yards during the Falcons' 24-23 victory on Sunday, the Bucs saw their yield against the pass increase to 315.5 yards per game.

Another reason opponents might be targeting the Bucs secondary is its youthful makeup. With veteran cornerback Eric Wright out on Sunday with a sore left Achilles tendon, the Bucs started undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson at left corner.

On the other side, fourth-year veteran cornerback E.J. Biggers made his 19th career start. From there, the Bucs relied on inexperienced reserves such as first-year corner LeQuan Lewis and first-year safety Ahmad Black in substitute packages.

"Yeah, we're young, but we're in the NFL,'' said Johnson, who gave up an 80-yard pass play to Julio Jones on Sunday. "We get paid a lot of money, just like the guys we go against.''

Johnson had not had a chance to review the 80-yard pass play he gave up, but said he could have prevented it had he done a better job of tackling Jones after he made the catch.

"I certainly could have tackled him,'' said Johnson, who also has three interceptions on the season. "I don't really remember much about the play, other than missing that tackle.''