Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Greg White continues to play as if he’s been in this Buccaneers defense for years, and not the 13 games he’s played this season.
White had perhaps his best game of the season in Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Houston Texans, notching three sacks and two forced fumbles to remain in the team lead in both categories.
White now has 8 ½ sacks and 6 forced fumbles this season.
White notched his first sack in the second quarter, bull rushing past Texans T Ephraim Salaam and hitting Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels to jar the football loose, which Bucs defensive tackle Jovan Haye recovered. That turnover led to an Earnest Graham touchdown run.
White then sacked Rosenfels for a 10-yard loss to end the first half.
White’s third sack and second forced fumble came with the Buccaneers down 21-14 in the third quarter. With the Texans at the Bucs 18, White hit a scrambling Rosenfels from behind, jarring the ball loose. Haye recovered that fumble, too, running 9 yards before he was tackled.
Three plays later, the Buccaneers turned the ball over, leading to a Texans touchdown.
White also had three quarterback hurries and defended a pass.
White failed to catch on with eight teams after being a seventh-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2002. He finally made his first NFL roster in September with the Buccaneers after impressing the coaching staff during the preseason.
The Buccaneers signed him as a free agent in August after White notched 15 sacks with the Orlando Predators in the Arena Football League, leading to Defensive Player of the Year honors in the AFL.
GRAHAM KEEPS ROLLING: Bucs RB Earnest Graham’s two rushing touchdowns on Sunday gave him nine for the season. It was also his second multi-touchdown game of the season.
Graham is now within striking distance of joining James Wilder (10, 1985), Mike Alstott (10, 2001), Errict Rhett (11, 1995) and Wilder (13, 1984) as the only Bucs running backs with 10 or more rushing touchdowns in a single season.
Graham now has 798 rushing yards this season. He needs 202 rushing yards to become the seventh Buccaneer to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Graham, who also had 45 yards receiving, also went past the 1,000-yard mark in rushing and receiving on Sunday.
DAVIS GETS NO. 2: Houston WR Andre Davis returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to start the third quarter. It was the second kickoff return for a touchdown of his career.
STAYING OUT OF TROUBLE: Entering Sunday’s game, the Buccaneers defense had a season-low 76 penalty yards. Bucs DE Kevin Carter was offsides in the first quarter, but that was the Bucs’ only defensive penalty of the day.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: All 11 of Houston’s defensive starters were under the age of 30. Six of them were selected in the past three drafts.
INJURIES: For Tampa Bay, WR Ike Hilliard left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. He did not return. Maurice Stovall replaced him and had two catches.
For Houston, RB Ron Dayne left for two possessions after re-aggravating an ankle injury, but he returned. LG Chester Pitts left the game in the third quarter, as did RG Casey Studdard. The Texans dressed just seven offensive linemen. Pitts did return. Studdard did not.
INACTIVES: Along with QB Jeff Garcia, RB Michael Pittman, DE Greg Spires, RB Lionel Gates, LB Jeremiah Trotter, G Dan Buenning, TE Keith Heinrich and DT Greg Peterson were inactive. For Houston. QB Matt Schaub (third quarterback), DB Dexter Wynn, LB William Kershaw, LB Danny Clark, C Drew Hodgdon, T Jordan Black, OT Brandon Frye and WR David Anderson were inactive.
Pittman did not make the trip to Houston.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.