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Bucs Insider: Fletcher, Barber Streak On


When the two teams run out of the tunnel on Sunday afternoon, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher and Buccaneers safety Ronde Barber will do so for the 228th consecutive game, streaks that date back to 1998.

Over the last 15 years, the duo has combined for more than 2,000 tackles, 62 sacks, 63 interceptions, 30 forced fumbles and nine touchdowns. 

They have also earned eight combined Pro Bowl selections and the respect of every player and coach in the NFL. 

And these two seem to be improving with age.

Fletcher led the NFL in tackles last season, tallying 209 even while battling through injuries on a losing team.  He was selected for his third-straight Pro Bowl, a streak that began when he was 35 years old.

Barber celebrated his 200th-straight start in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.  It was also the first start of his illustrious career at free safety, after 215 at cornerback.

He celebrated both milestones by picking off and sacking Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton, who is 65 pounds heavier and 14 years his junior. 

He finished the day with five tackles, an interception, two passes defensed and two tackles for a loss, and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the 10th time in his career.

"Today was like old times when we were a great defense," Barber told the media after the game.  "In those days, the guys played so fast you would look and say it was the film—we couldn't possibly be that fast"

And Barber would know about the good ol' days.

In 2003, Barber was a key piece in the NFL's most ferocious defense, carrying Brad Johnson's Buccaneers offense to a victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXVII.  Back then, he was one of the one of the fastest men on the field. 

Nine years later, he has traded some of that burst for veteran savvy.

"I am just a football player," he told the media. "I never really thought of myself as just a cornerback, and this is just another opportunity for me to do my job and challenge myself."

Despite starting more games (219) in his NFL career than his Redskins counterpart (211), Barber was candid in discussing the streaks, and whose was more impressive.

"I have to say doing it from his spot," he told the Washington media.  "I don't know how [Fletcher]'s doing it.  I saw him in the preseason right before the game.  Neither one of us were playing but we have a little conversation about it. 

"I gave him props then.  Doing it as a middle linebacker 15-straight years is way more impressive than me.  I've taken some hits in my day, but nearly the type of pounding that he has over his career.  Much respect for him."




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