Bucs' Game Grades

August 25 – After falling to 0-2 with losses to the Dolphins and Browns, the third game of the preseason proved to be the charm for the Buccaneers in their impressive 20-3 win over the visiting Patriots. Buccaneers Magazine dishes out grades for both player and positional performance from Saturday night's Bucs' win at Raymond James Stadium.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB Brad Johnson: 14-of-22 for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns. Johnson looked sharp against New England's 3-4 defense. Johnson's touchdown tosses were to RB Aaron Stecker from 21-yards out and to WR Jacquez Green from 17 yards out. Both touchdown passes were in the right and left corners of the end zone and were perfectly thrown. Johnson drove the offense to New England's seven-yard line in the second quarter, but he threw an interception to rookie DT Richard Seymour, which killed the drive.

QB Shaun King: 5-of-7 for 61 yards and 1 touchdown. King was impressive as well, tossing one touchdown pass to WR Karl Williams in the third quarter from 19 yards out. King also threw a perfect strike to WR Frank Murphy, but the New England defender slipped a hand in on the ball to knock it out of Murphy's hands.

QB Ryan Leaf: 3-of-5 for 49 yards. Leaf had his best outing of the preseason against the Patriots. In the fourth quarter, Leaf drilled TE Todd Yoder for a 25-yard gain. Later in the same drive, Leaf threw a perfect strike in the corner of the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but RB Pepe' Pearson had the ball swatted out of his hands as he started to pull it into his body. Leaf did not receive help on a fourth down and 2 yards to go situation in the fourth quarter. Leaf threw a nice pass to WR Khori Ivy, but the ball tipped off of his hands and fell incomplete.

QB Joe Hamilton: Did not play.

Tampa Bay's quarterbacks completed 22-of-34 attempts for 227 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. GRADE: B+

RUNNING BACKS:

RB Warrick Dunn: Dunn humiliated The Patriots defense on Saturday night. Dunn rushed for 100 yards on his first five carries of the game. Dunn finished with 12 carries for 115 yards (9.6 average). Dunn had two long runs, one for 36-yards and the second for 56-yards.

RB Aaron Stecker: Stecker rushed seven times for 24 yards ((3.4 average). His longest run on the night was 8-yards. Although he is a running back, Stecker continued to prove to be a threat in the passing game. In the second quarter, QB Brad Johnson threw a 21-yard strike down the sideline to Stecker for a touchdown.

RB Pepe' Pearson: He had six rushes for 15 yards. Pearson's longest run was a nine-yard dash.

FB Jameel Cook: He did not contribute much in the rushing attack, but Cook came up with two catches for 23 yards. One of Cook's catches came on a fourth-and-1, where he rolled out of the backfield and caught a Johnson pass and ran up the field in stride for a 19-yard gain.

Tampa Bay rushed 27 times for 153 yards (5.7 average) against the Patriots' defense.

GRADE: A

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR Keyshawn Johnson: Johnson hauled in his first catch of the preseason and added four others. Johnson had five receptions for 37 yards. Two of Johnson's catches were for first downs.

WR Karl Williams: He had two catches for 23 yards, but one of Williams' receptions was for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, QB Shaun King threw a perfect pass down the middle of the field for a 19-yard touchdown to a stretched out Williams.

WR Jacquez Green: In the first drive of the third quarter, Johnson lofted a 17-yard pass into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. This was Green's only reception against the Patriots.

WR Reidel Anthony: Although he only had one catch against New England, Anthony's reception helped lead to King's touchdown pass to Williams in the fourth quarter. Anthony cut across the middle of the field wide open and hauled in a perfect pass from King for a 35-yard gain.

Khori Ivy: He had one catch for three yards, but Ivy should have had at least one more catch late in the fourth quarter. Leaf threw a perfect pass to Ivy, but he looked like he heard footsteps and missed the pass that would have given the offense a first down.

WR Frank Murphy: He lost a golden opportunity for a touchdown when QB Shaun King threw a bomb down the right sideline directly into a tightly covered Murphy's hands, but the Patriot defender tipped the ball and caused an incompletion.

GRADE: B-

TIGHT ENDS:

TE Dave Moore: He only caught two passes for nine yards, but Moore played a bigger role in run blocking against the Patriots.

TE Todd Yoder: He caught a perfect 25-yard strike in the middle of the field from QB Ryan Leaf in the fourth quarter. Yoder's catch placed the Bucs' offense deep in New England's territory, but the drive ended in the offense turning the ball over on downs.

GRADE: B

OFFENSIVE LINE:

C Todd Washington: Although he was burnt a couple of times, Washington did an adequate job of starting in place of injured veteran C Jeff Christy.

G Brian Gruber: Had a false start penalty that backed up the offense five yards in the fourth quarter when Leaf was leading the offense deep into Patriots' territory.

The Bucs' offensive line provided good time for the quarterbacks to throw, only allowed two sacks and played a big part in Dunn's success rushing against the Patriots.

GRADE: B

DEFENSIVE LINE:

DE Simeon Rice: Rice recorded his first sack as a Buccaneer when he dropped QB Drew Bledsoe for an 8-yard loss. Rice came close to recording another sack, but over-pursued Bledsoe.

DT Chartric Darby: Darby had an outstanding night against the Patriots, recording two sacks that dropped the Patriots back a total of 20 yards. Darby also recorded two tackles.

DT Warren Sapp: Sapp also recorded a sack, dropping Bledsoe for a 7-yard loss, but Sapp also recorded four tackles and put a relentless rush on Bledsoe all night.

DT James Cannida: Cannida recorded his sack in the fourth quarter when he sacked QB Damon Huard back on the Patriots own 1-yard line. Cannida also recorded two tackles.

The Bucs defensive line held the Patriots to 39 yards rushing on 18 carries and recorded five sacks.

GRADE: A+

LINEBACKERS:

MLB Jamie Duncan: He recorded three tackles and was a solid presence in the middle for the Buccaneers.

LB Derrick Brooks: The Patriots' offense tried to run toward Rice's and Brooks' side in the beginning of the game, but Brooks shut their offense down. He recorded four tackles.

The Buccaneers' defense held the Patriots' offense to 83 net yards.

GRADE: A-

SECONDARY:

CB Cory Ivey: Intercepted QB Damon Huard in the fourth quarter. This was the only interception made by the Buccaneers' defense against New England. Ivey made a nice adjustment on his back to make the pic.

CB Brian Kelly: He should have been credited with an interception late in the second quarter when he caught a deflected Bledsoe pass. Kelly had the ball batted out of his hands after catching it and the pass was ruled incomplete. It is not clear why the referees decided not to review this play, but the Patriots ended up kicking a field goal a few plays later.

The Buccaneers' defense held the Patriots to just 44 net yards passing and only allowed them to convert 1-of-14 (7 percent) third downs into first downs on Saturday night.

GRADE: A+

SPECIAL TEAMS:

P Aron Langley: He punted five times and averaged 42.6 yards per punt, but his biggest play came when he made a touchdown saving tackle in the first quarter on Troy Brown. Brown only had one man to beat, but Langley was able to tackle him and save the touchdown.

K Martin Gramatica: New England blocked one of Gramatica's extra points-the first of his career.

P Andrew Bayes: Did not fare well on kickoffs, but averaged 43.3 yards per punt on three punts against New England. QB Brad Johnson was holding for Gramatica all night, so this does not say much for Bayes, who is supposed to be holding for Gramatica.

WR Robert Kilow: He has a knack for making things happen when he returns punts, but his biggest problem is fielding them. Kilow cost the Buccaneers approximately 45 yards in field position due to a couple of punts he bobbled and three others he let fall and work their way deep within Tampa Bay's 20 yard line.

GRADE: B


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