Game rewind: 49ers 15, Buccaneers 10
THE HERO Just call him Joe the Toe. The San Francisco offense bogged down every time it sniffed the red zone in Tampa Bay territory, but Joe Nedney came on to drill field goals of 45, 47, 41, 46 and 28 yards to single-footedly score all of the 49ers' points. It was a career-high total for the ninth-year veteran, who also put all five of his kickoffs inside the Tampa Bay 5-yard line, including one for a touchback that was caught nine yards deep in the end zone. THE GOAT As Alex Smith and Ken Dorsey both can tell you, it's tough on young quarterbacks in the first games within a season that they are forced into the starting lineup. Now Chris Simms can tell you, too. All Simms really had to do Sunday was not screw it up with the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense limiting San Francisco to 208 yards. But when the Buccaneers couldn't run the ball, Simms was forced to make some plays through the air to keep pace with San Francisco field goals. Take out one 78-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway – a play on which Galloway did most of the work after taking a short pass – and Simms couldn't get it done, turning the ball over three times, setting up both of San Francisco's third-quarter field goals with interceptions, and missing on key passes for an offense that converted just three of 14 third-down opportunities and scored on only two of its 15 drives against a San Francisco defense ranked last in the NFL. KEY STAT The 49ers rushed for a season-high 158 yards against the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense, producing a 4.1 average on a season-high 39 carries. That clock-eating ground game allowed the 49ers to win the time-of-possession battle for the first time this season. The 49ers were averaging 22 carries and 90 yards rushing per game entering the afternoon while controlling the ball an average of 10½ minutes less than their opponents. THE TURNING POINT The 49ers had played Tampa Bay tough in the first half, but it appeared the Bucs would go into halftime even at 3-3 after a 10-play, 61-yard drive culminated in Matt Bryant's 47-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter. But Maurice Hicks took the ensuing kickoff out to the San Francisco 42-yard line for a 30-yard return and, with 11 seconds to play before halftime, Kevan Barlow bolted around left end and turned up field for a tackle-breaking 29-yard run that took the ball to the Tampa Bay 29. The 49ers got in a timeout with two seconds remaining after Barlow was tackled, and Nedney trotted onto the field to make his 47-yarder on the final play of the first half to double San Francisco's point total and send the 49ers into intermission ahead 6-3. The 49ers carried that momentum into the second half as Nedney's field goal began a string of nine consecutive San Francisco points that gave the 49ers a 12-3 lead to take into the fourth quarter. THE BIG PLAY The 49ers began building some momentum and adding to their lead after halftime, but they weren't even getting close to the Tampa Bay end zone and the Buccaneers always seemed just a play away from getting back in the game – or taking the lead. After the 49ers went up 9-3, Tampa Bay started the ensuing drive at its own 20 and was quickly out to the 37 three plays later. But on a first-down play, Simms dropped back to pass and was heavily pressured. Forced to throw quickly, his pass bounced off the head of umpire Darrell Jenkins and was snatched out of the air by 49ers linebacker Brandon Moore, who returned it 12 yards. That changed the complexion of the contest, setting up Nedney's 46-yard field goal that gave the Niners a nine-point lead and made it a two-possession game. STANDOUT PERFORMER Kevan Barlow had his first 100-yard game of the season, playing the workhorse role while lugging the football 26 times for a game-high 101 yards rushing. His 29-yard run – San Francisco's longest play of the day and the second-longest in the game – set up a field goal, and he had several other nice runs while continuing to display a more aggressive burst toward the line than earlier in the season. He also was San Francisco's leading receiver with two receptions for 21 yards while personally accounting for 122 of the 49ers' 208 offensive yards. QUOTABLE "We've got a lot of guys that we're trying to get them to gel as quickly as we can. The thing that's impressive to me is they're working on those things, they're not taking it for granted that they're in there and they're busting their tails. I'll tell you what, some of those guys are going to have long-lasting careers because they're in a situation where they have an opportunity to show what they can do, and they keep getting better. As time goes on, those are guys that become your core guys. Where I just came from, that's exactly how we built that defense in Baltimore. Just with guys that kept showing up and playing and have the opportunity, and the next thing you know, everybody thinks they're great. So, hopefully, that's what happens to us. But we've got a long way to go before anybody thinks we're great." – 49ers coach Mike Nolan BY THE NUMBERS 0: Victories by Jon Gruden-coached Tampa Bay teams in road trips to the West Coast, including two visits to San Francisco, where the 49ers also beat the Bucs 24-7 in 2003 1: Victories in San Francisco by Tampa Bay in 18-game all-time series between the 49ers and Bucs 1.5: Average per carry by Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay's leading rusher this season who was limited to 20 yards on 13 carries 2: Victories by 49ers in seven games this season, matching their final total for the 2004 season 2.2: Average gain per rushing attempt by Buccaneers on their 20 carries 2.6: Average gain per play by 49ers on their 19 pass attempts 3: Different players to start at quarterback for the 49ers in seven games this season 3.6 Average gain by 49ers on their 58 offensive plays 5: Sacks by the 49ers, matching their combined total from the previous three games 8: Sacks by 49ers defensive end/tackle Bryant Young in seven games this season 9: Consecutive field goals by 49ers kicker Joe Nedney to start the season before he missed on his final attempt Sunday 12: Consecutive punts by both teams to begin the game before the 49ers broke a scoreless tie with a field goal on the game's 13th possession. 13: First downs by Buccaneers, the first time the San Francisco defense has allowed fewer than 22 in a game this season 15: Tampa Bay drives that began in Tampa Bay territory as the 49ers won the battle of field position 17: Combined punts in game by both teams 21: Percentage of third-down converted by Buccaneers (3 of 14) 30:19: Time of possession by the 49ers, the first time in seven games this season San Francisco has controlled the ball longer than its opponent 35.3: Average points allowed per game by 49ers entering Sunday's contest 43: Rushing yards by Buccaneers, the fewest allowed by the San Francisco defense since 2003 47.0: Quarterback rating for game by 49ers starter Ken Dorsey 50: Gross yards passing by the 49ers, their lowest total of the season 65: Total yards in penalties by each team Sunday 71.2: Quarterback rating by Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms 78: Yards on touchdown pass from Simms to Joey Galloway in fourth quarter, which represented 28 percent of Tampa Bay's total offense on one play 110.0: Combined quarterback rating by San Francisco's first six opponents 141: Combined rushing yards by 49ers tailbacks Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore 275: Yards of total offense for Tampa Bay, a season low for the San Francisco defense and 90 fewer than the 49ers have allowed to any opponent this season FAST FACTS --- The 49ers increased their lead to 14-4 in the all-time series between the teams, but won for just the second time in the last five meetings. --- The 49ers committed no turnovers and allowed no quarterback sacks for the first time in the same game this season --- Second-year cornerback Shawntae Spencer and fourth-year linebacker Brandon Moore each recorded the first interception of his career. Spencer returned his 24 yards to set up San Francisco's third field goal and Moore returned his 12 yards to set up San Francisco's fourth field goal. --- Eight different San Francisco players knocked away passes as San Francisco allowed a season-low 232 net yards passing. --- Rookie quarterback Alex Smith did not dress for the game due to strained knee ligaments as the 49ers went with only two quarterbacks. Rookie Rasheed Marshall would have been the emergency quarterback had Cody Pickett been injured late in the game. --- With a game-high eight receptions, Tampa Bay receiver Joey Galloway surpassed 500 career receptions and now has 506. Galloway also had 149 yards receiving – almost three times San Francisco's total yardage through the air. --- The 49ers continue a string of four consecutive games against NFC opponents leading their division when they face the 5-2 New York Giants next Sunday at Monster Park.
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