BY FRED GOODALL, AP Sports journalist
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Like most NFL cornerbacks, Carlton Davis plays with a short-term memory but never forgets a bad performance.
Dominated by Tyreek Hill during the regular season, the third year pro and the rest of the young secondary school in Tampa Bay are eager to hold their own against the Kansas City Chiefs’ quick receiver in the Super Bowl.
Hill had 13 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 win over the Bucs on November 29. He had seven catches for 203 yards and a pair of TDs in the opening quarter alone, with Davis mainly playing single coverage.
“I play defensively in the NFL so you’ll have your share of the losses. It doesn’t change who I am or what I do or how I approach the game. I’ll keep being a dog and go out there and give it my all, ”said Davis.
Davis, Jamel Dean and Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield, Jr. don’t make bold predictions or reveal any secrets about Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles’ game plan, but they expect them to do better against Hill when the teams meet again Sunday.
First, Dean didn’t play in the previous game. And as Davis noted, secondary school – made up of four starters and two key reserves drawn up over the past three years – has helped Tampa Bay a lot better at 7-0 since losing to the Chiefs.
“We just go out there and do what we do. It’s not about them, it’s always about us. The more you do about her, the more it becomes about her, ”said Davis.
“I will always be myself. The first game didn’t go as well as it did in our schedule, but we fixed it, ”added Davis. “We have a great game plan, but I go in with the same mentality and that is to dominate.”
Davis led the Bucs with four interceptions that season. Sean Murphy-Bunting, a 2019 second round draft pick who has recovered from injury and plays a key role in the postseason, had interceptions on each of three playoff wins at Tampa Bay.
Bowles made some adjustments after the first quarter of week 12 against the Chiefs, who built a 17 point lead before Tom Brady kicked off the Bucs offensive in the fourth quarter.
Murphy-Bunting felt that after the slow start, secondary school could hold its own against Hill, Travis Kelce and the rest of the talented Kansas City playmakers, proving that they can play with the defending Super Bowl champions.
“We can’t always go into games like ‘You have this guy, you have this guy, you have this guy’ because we have guys too,” Murphy-Bunting said.
Davis said the secondary school continues to grow as a group, motivated in part by naysayers who portrayed it as liability for much of the season.
However, the 24-year-old is still concerned about a pre-season ranking reading that Tampa Bay defenders are the last out of 32 teams.
“Imagine you come to work every day and not only do you not give credit, but people also say you are not doing your job. People just don’t realize what you are doing and it’s frustrating. Not just for me, but for all of my boys and that’s definitely something we carry on our shoulders, ”said Davis.
“We’ll keep wearing it, not even until we get respect, just until we’re done because it’s something you never forget. It’s something you always think about, ”he added. “Getting sleepy is one of the worst feelings ever, that’s definitely what drives us.”
Bowles is understandably encouraged by the way the defense wins in the playoffs in Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay in the NFC championship game.
“We were very opportunistic in the backend,” said Bowles. “They come together and play at the right time. They smell blood and go after him. “
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