NFL News of January 7, 2003

Stopping Terrell Owens will be one of the top priorities of the Tampa Bay Bucs defense in the NFC Divisional playoff game Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Much of the responsibility will fall upon cornerback Ronde Barber, who will be giving away five inches of height when he covers Owens, one of the most gifted, big receivers in the NFL.

“He’s a big, powerful athlete (6-foot-3, 226 pounds) who presents some matchup problems,” Barber said. “But, everybody does. He’s strong, fast, aggressive and he plays with a lot more attitude than other guys do.”

Barber said he will draw upon his experience of covering 6-foot-5 Randy Moss, the NFC’s leading receiver, in figuring out how to handle Owens.

“We’ve played these type of guys before. Randy Moss has a size advantage over us, leaping athletic ability over us,” Barber said.

…Bucs safety John Lynch said the defense will not make drastic adjustments for Owens.

…Defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin said that secondary will mix coverages to keep Owens guessing.

— Tom Balog, The Sarasota Herald Tribune “Owens has size, speed and talent”

Barber and the Bucs held Owens to 4 catches for 35 yards en route to a 31-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

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