Stingy defense was the club's hallmark for most of the past decade, and it set the tone Sunday as the Bucs surpassed their victory total for last season with a 17-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
"We had a real feel for what they were going to do, especially when they decommitted to the run," cornerback Ronde Barber said after he and teammates frustrated Kurt Warner and limited the Cardinals to 23 yards rushing.
"We always say if they're going to drop back and throw the ball that many times, we should be able to stay with anybody."
Garcia threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway, while Earnest Graham scored on a 2-yard run and had his first 100-yard rushing performance as a pro for the Bucs (5-4), whose 4-12 record a year ago was the franchise's worst since 1991.
In addition to Tanard Jackson's second-quarter interception, which set up a field goal, the Bucs defense limited the Cardinals to one first down and 78 yards total offense in the opening half.
Arizona, averaging 337.3 yards per game, finished with a season-low 195 but still had a chance to force overtime when Warner trotted onto the field following a Tampa Bay punt with 2:39 to go.
The hopes for a comeback ended when Warner's deep sideline throw was intercepted near midfield by Jermaine Phillips, who appeared to only get one foot down before going out of bounds.
The Cardinals (3-5) were out of timeouts, though, and couldn't challenge the play.
"I'm disgusted, I'm embarrassed. I'm way too good a football player to be a part of something that we just did out there on the field," Warner said. "I hope we have a bunch of other guys that feel the same way. That was just ridiculous, the way we played offensively."
Tampa Bay had the ball for more than 13 minutes of the third quarter, but wasted an opportunity to put the game out of reach when a 19-play, 86-yard drive lasting almost 12 minutes resulted in a 26-yard missed field goal.
In all, the Bucs controlled the ball for just over 43 minutes, running 77 offensive plays to Arizona's 42.
Garcia, rebounding from throwing his first three interceptions of the season during a one-point loss to Jacksonville, was 18-of-28 for 196 yards. Ike Hillard had seven catches for 70 yards, and Galloway had five for 84 yards.
"We keep fighting and finding ways to do it," Garcia said. "It doesn't look pretty. I wish this game could have been more dominant on our behalf. But this is the NFL. Nothing comes easy."
Warner drove the Cardinals 80 yards to trim Arizona's deficit to 17-10 on Edgerrin James' 3-yard run with 7:30 left. Arizona got the ball back two more times, but was unable to mount a threat.
While the Cardinals believe their record doesn't reflect how well they've played the first half of the season, they began the day leading the NFL in penalties and penalty yards and had also turned the ball over eight times in losses to Carolina and Washington in their previous two games.
"We're obviously 3-5, so it's an accurate representation," first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Obviously today we didn't play good enough. Today we looked like a 3-and-5 team, I know that."
Galloway's TD reception gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead, and Jackson's interception and a subsequent 15-yard face mask penalty that gave Tampa Bay the ball at the Cardinals 17 set up Matt Bryant's 32-yard field goal to make it 10-3.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, went six possessions without a first down after Warner's 47-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald led to a 47-yard field goal that Neil Rackers converted less than three minutes into the game.
Arizona went three-and-out on five of those possessions, and Jackson's interception ended the other. The Cardinals have not scored a touchdown in the first quarter this season, although it looked like Fitzgerald might get to the end zone before he stepped out of bounds without a defender touching him at the Bucs 33.
"We were never able to get it going again until late in the second half," Warner said. "By then, it was way too late."
Warner completed 10 of 30 passes for 172 yards, however the Cardinals only ran for 23 yards on 12 carries. Fitzgerald had four catches for 95 yards, while Anquan Boldin was limited to 40 yards on three receptions.
"It seemed like we just couldn't get nothing rolling," said James, who gained 15 yards on nine carries. "It's weird. With all the talent we have, you would think we'd eventually find a groove. We couldn't find nothing."
Bucs rookie DE Gaines Adams, the first defensive player selected in the draft, made his first NFL start in place of injured Greg Spires. ... Cardinals S Aaron Francisco (sprained right knee) left the game in the second quarter. ... Tampa Bay's 43:07 time of possession is a franchise-best for a game that didn't extend into overtime.