LANDOVER, Md. -- Ever since he was hired in January, we've heard Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith talk about "Buc Ball."
For the first nine games of the season, it looked as if the definition of that was to go out and play bad football. If the Bucs weren't getting routed, they were squandering fourth-quarter leads.
But Sunday's 27-7 victory over the Washington Redskins showed everyone what Buc Ball is supposed to look like. With rookie wide receiver Mike Evans playing the role of closer, Tampa Bay's defense set the stage for a win with its best performance of the season.
"It just shows us what we're capable of," defensive end Michael Johnson said. "We can be very dangerous when we do that. We've got a lot of talented players together like that. When it all goes together, it's kind of an orchestra, a symphony, sweet music."
What Buc Ball is made up of is an aggressive and opportunistic defense coupled with an efficient offense. The Bucs took the offense to extra heights, thanks to Evans, who finished with seven catches for 209 yards.
"[Evans] is just special," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "I'll just leave it at that."
Evans' two second-half touchdowns sealed the victory, but the defense already had the Bucs in control. It started on the first play of the game when linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted a pass by Robert Griffin III to set up a quick field goal.
The 2-8 Bucs, who have been notoriously slow starters, followed up with cornerback Johnthan Banks returning a Griffin interception for a touchdown with 3:56 left in the first quarter.
The defensive heroics didn't end there. The Bucs also recovered a fumble and sacked Griffin six times.
"Our defense going on the field and getting a quick takeaway kind of set the tone," Smith said. "We haven't been able to take the ball away as much as we need to on the defensive side. Thought we had great pressure from our front. The front kind of set the tempo as much as anything."
That tempo might have been set by McCoy, who had 1.5 sacks. The unquestioned leader of the defense, McCoy gave a pregame speech that apparently hit home.
"It was the attitude," McCoy said. "I talked to the group before we went out there and told them we have to have a different type of attitude. We just took the attitude of, we expect to win, and we went out there and did what we had to do."
The Bucs did something else they hadn't been doing -- protected a lead. This is the same team that had blown fourth-quarter leads in each of the last three games and five times this season.
"We talk about 'play 60,'" Smith said. "Sixty good minutes. We haven't been able to start the game and finish it at the same time."
This time, the Bucs started and finished well. It was evidence that Buc Ball really can work.
"That's what they're supposed to do," Smith said. "That's our style of ball."