Bucs Game Grades

September 9 - Tampa Bay opened up the 2001 regular season on Sunday with a 10-6 victory over Dallas. The Cowboys played the Buccaneers tough, but the Pewter Pirates were able to escape Dallas with their first win of the regular season. Buccaneer Magazine hands out grades for the Bucs' performance against the Cowboys.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: Completed 26-of-35 passes for 194 yards 1 interception. Johnson completed his first nine pass attempts against Dallas. Johnson threw an interception on a third down and 3 play, where he threw to a double covered WR Keyshawn Johnson, but was intercepted by S Darren Woodson on the Cowboys 30 yard line. Johnson also threw another interception, but it was negated because of a Dallas helmet-to-helmet penalty. Johnson was under tremendous pressure throughout the afternoon, which forced him to get rid of passes a bit earlier than he would have liked to. Johnson was able to spread the ball out to six different receivers. Most of his attempts were high-percentage passes. Johnson's biggest play of the game came in the fourth quarter on a third down and goal, where he scored the only touchdown of the game on a quarterback sneak. GRADE: B+

RUNNING BACKS:

RB WARRICK DUNN: 22 carries for 56 yards (2.5 average). Dunn was fighting to find daylight behind his offensive line all game. He hesitated too much to find holes and when he did, Dallas was exceptionally quick to the ball. Dunn had a costly fumble in the first half on the Dallas 30 yard line, which the Cowboys recovered to stall the Tampa Bay drive. He appeared to be shaken up after the play, but returned shortly after that. Dunn did, however, contribute greatly in the passing game. He hauled in five passes for 21 yards and a long of 14. Dunn had to head to the locker room during the game due to cramps, but returned a short time after. Dunn also had a couple of dropped passes, but none of which would have been for significant gains.

FB MIKE ALSOTT: Five carries for 12 yards (2.4 average). The A-Train came out in the first quarter as a big contributor to the passing game. He caught four passes in the game for 15 yards. He had good penetration on blocks, but struggled to hold them for any length of time.

GRADE: B-

WIDE RECEIVERS: Tampa Bay's receivers had a very productive game against Dallas. WR Keyshawn Johnson hauled in seven passes for 71 yards. Johnson's long was a 25-yard gain down the middle of the field in the first half. This play led to a field goal for the Bucs, but Johnson suffered a thigh bruise. He played injured throughout the rest of the game. WR Jacquez Green had eight catches for 75 yards. Green bailed out the Bucs offense on a couple of third down situations with catches on the sidelines.

GRADE: B+

TIGHT ENDS:

TE DAVE MOORE: Not only did Moore not have a single reception against Dallas, but he did not even have a single pass thrown his way all day. Moore did, however, pick up good blocks on the offensive line in both the passing and running game.

GRADE: C

OFFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay's offensive line allowed Dunn and Alstott to rush for 70 yards on 27 carries. Their line also allowed QB Brad Johnson to be sacked twice and constantly pressured throughout the game. LT Kenyatta Walker did a pretty good job containing DE Greg Ellis.

GRADE: B-

DEFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay's defensive line held RB Emmitt Smith to just 40 yards on 13 carries (3.1 average). In all, the Bucs defense allowed Dallas to rush for a total of 96 yards. DE Simeon Rice recorded three tackles. He missed a couple of tackles, but for the most part, he was good against the run. DT Anthony McFarland also recorded three tackles. McFarland had a huge play in the third quarter, where he blew through a double team and pushed RB Emmitt Smith into S John Lynch's path. Lynch stopped Smith for a loss on the play. DE Steve White was thrown into the rotation at defensive end. He recorded two tackles, but more importantly, he recovered a QB Quincy Carter fumble to give Tampa Bay possession. DT Warren Sapp had a quiet day, but this was to be expected. Sapp was facing All-Pro G Larry Allen, who contained Sapp well. Sapp recorded one tackle against Dallas.

GRADE: B+

LINEBACKERS: The Bucs only allowed Dallas to convert 1-of-10 third downs into first downs.LB Derrick Brooks recorded only recorded one tackle against Dallas, but he was all over the field. Brooks also had a chance to intercept a Carter pass, but had it deflect off his hands. Both MLBs Jamie Duncan and Nate Webster recorded one tackle each.

GRADE: B

SECONDARY: This unit held QB Quincy Carter to just 34 yards passing. They also picked him off twice. The first interception came in the first quarter, when FS Dexter Jackson intercepted Carter and ran the ball about 13-yards up the field. On the play before, Carter threw a bomb into Jackson's hands, but the ball slipped out. Jackson recorded three tackles against Dallas. The second interception came on the Cowboys last drive of the game. On fourth down and forever, Carter overthrew his receiver and the ball went right into SS John Lynch's hands. Lynch also made the hit of the day (are you surprised?). After McFarland pushed through a double team and followed Smith to the outside, Lynch stuffed Smith as he attempted to cut up the field. Lynch finished the game with four tackles. CB Donnie Abraham recorded three tackles and recovered a fumble. CB Ronde Barber had four tackles against the Cowboys and had a couple of impressive passes defended. Barber had a costly pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter, which kept a Dallas drive alive. CB Brian Kelly had perhaps the biggest play of the game against Dallas. On a third down and goal from Tampa Bay's three-yard line, RB Emmitt Smith cut outside and the only man he had to beat was Kelly. But Kelly set his feet, grabbed onto Smith's jersey and dragged Smith down on the sideline before he could get into the end zone for a score.

GRADE: A

SPECIAL TEAMS: This unit had a horrible game against Dallas. All six of Dallas' points can be attributed to this unit. After Tampa Bay took the opening drive down the field and had K Martin Gramatica kick a 39-yard field goal, their kicking unit allowed Dallas to return their kickoff back to the Bucs' 20-yard line. This would lead to a K Tim Seder field goal. Tampa Bay also fell asleep on a Dallas kickoff, where K Tim Seder perfectly planted an onside kick and the Cowboys recovered. Gramatica would attempt a 52-yard field goal attempt in the first half, but badly missed wide right. P Mark Royals did a great job of punting against Dallas. He didn't even have his first punt until there was less than one minute left in the first half. Royals punted four times and averaged 42.4 yards per punt. RB Aaron Stecker had a careless penalty for not allowing the Dallas returner to field a punt on a fair catch. Royals pinned Dallas at the nine-yard line, but Stecker's penalty moved them up to the 24. Stecker did, however, make a solid open field tackle on a punt return before the first half ended. Tampa Bay had three penalties on special teams and allowed Dallas to gain solid field position throughout the game. Kelly and Barber had huge tackles on the return teams, which might have each saved scores.

GRADE: D


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