Bucs Game Grades

September 30 – Tampa Bay came close, but fell short in their effort to escape Minnesota with a victory on Sunday. Buccaneer Magazine dishes out Game Grades based on the Buccaneers' performance in their 20-16 loss to the Vikings.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: Johnson completed 20-of-34 passes (58.8 percent) for 224 yards and threw one interceptions. Johnson was provided a substantial amount of time to throw the football against the Vikings defense. Johnson was especially sharp across the middle of the field, where he connected with wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Jacquez Green often. Johnson led the Bucs offense into at least field goal range six times in the game. Tampa Bay came away with three field goals and one touchdown on those drives. Johnson engineered a good two-minute drive to set up Gramatica's 25-yard field goal with 19 seconds left. Johnson led another drive when the Bucs were down, 20-16 with 1:09 left in the game. He drove the Bucs offense from the Bucs' 25 yard line all the way to the Vikings' 17. But with just 19 seconds left in the game, Johnson threw a ball to K. Johnson, which tipped off of his hands and was intercepted by Eric Kelly to seal the victory for Minnesota. Johnson was also able to move the offense with his legs. He rushed two times for 19 yards.

GRADE: B

RUNNING BACKS:

RB WARRICK DUNN: Dunn carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards (5.9 avg. per carry) and scored Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the game. Dunn rushed for 13-yards on three different carries and also had a run of 20-yards. Dunn also played a big part in the Bucs passing game. He hauled in five passes for 34 yards. Dunn did a good job of following his blocks behind a solid effort from his offensive line. Dunn showed less hesitation to hit holes against Minnesota than he did against Dallas. But he sprained his right ankle on the same drive the Bucs eventually scored a touchdown on. Dunn would aggravate his sprained foot even more on his way into the end zone two plays later. He never returned.

FB Mike Alstott: The A-Train only carried the ball three times, but gained 24 yards (8.0 avg. per carry). Alstott longest run of the game was for 12-yards. Alstott also caught two passes, but only totaled seven yards.

*Tampa Bay rushed for a total of 108 yards rushing against Minnesota and averaged 6.7 yards per carry.

GRADE: B

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson caught seven passes against Minnesota for 96 yards. His longest reception of the game was a 22-yard grab on the sideline for a first down. He did an excellent job of keeping his feet in bounds before stepping out. Johnson came threw big for Tampa Bay, but he also had two key drops. Both of Johnson's drops came within Minnesota's 10-yard line. Johnson's most critical drop came on second down from the Vikings' 17 with just over :20 left in the game when Tampa Bay was driving late in the game and a B. Johnson pass tipped up off of his hands and into Eric Kelly's for an interception. Both drops were difficult catches to make, but they would have certainly changed the game if he had been able to hold onto them. Jacquez Green had three catches against the Vikings, but all were big. Green finished the game with 54 yards receiving and his longest gain of the day was 35-yards. B. Johnson hit Green in the seams of the field, where Green did an excellent job of finding holes in Minnesota's defense. Green did, however, have a crucial drop on a third-and-4 play in the first quarter. If Green could have made the catch across the middle of the field, the Bucs offense would have kept possession of the ball. Instead, Tampa Bay was forced to punt and Minnesota eventually scored their first touchdown of the game. Another drop came in the end zone from the Vikings 17-yard line with time running down on the Bucs offense. B. Johnson threw a perfect pass in the middle of the end zone to a tripled covered WR Karl Williams, but the pass tipped up off of Williams' hands and out of bounds.

*The Buccaneers offense converted only 1-of-8 third downs against Minnesota.

GRADE: B-

TIGHT ENDS: For the second game in a row, the Bucs tight ends were non-existent in offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen's offense. Although they were not uses as receivers against the Vikings, Dave Moore did a good job of pass protecting and run blocking.

GRADE: C

OFFENSIVE LINE: The Bucs offensive line provided QB Brad Johnson good time to throw against the Vikings. Johnson was only sacked one time, and it was a coverage sack. The offensive line opened up some big holes for RB Warrick Dunn before he had to leave the game early in the fourth quarter with a sprained foot. Rookie LT Kenyatta Walker made his first crucial mistake of his career and it might have cost the Bucs a chance to win the game against the Vikings. On a third-and-1 from Minnesota's 30-yard line late in the fourth quarter, Walker was called for holding, which moved the ball back 10-yards. Head coach Tony Dungy thought attempting a 57-yard field goal was too risky, so the Bucs elected to punt the ball away. Walker's holing penalty cost the Bucs an opportunity to kick a field goal and possibly the game, but other than this play, he did a good job.

GRADE: B

DEFENSIVE LINE: This unit held the Vikings to just 81 yards rushing and heavily pressured QB Daunte Culpepper throughout Sunday's game. But Culpepper was able to avoid sacks and make plays under pressure. DE Simeon Rice led the front four in tackles with four and also recorded a sack. Rice pressured Culpepper in the game, especially in the second half. But he only managed to bring Culpepper down for one sack. DT Warren Sapp recorded three tackles, but didn't record a single sack. Like Rice, Sapp was able to pressure Culpepper was just a second too late on several instances. DE Marcus Jones and DT Anthony McFarland each recorded three tackles. Culpepper made several miraculous plays while in the grasp of Bucs defenders throughout the day. This is a big reason why Minnesota converted 9-of-12 third downs into first downs.

GRADE: B

LINEBACKERS: No player had as good of a performance as LB Derrick Brooks. Brooks recorded a whopping 20 tackles (16 solo) and intercepted Culpepper on the Vikings' opening drive of the game. Brooks' interception led to K Martin Gramatica's first field goal. Brooks was all over the field. He helped contain the Vikings rushing attack and the majority of his tackles came via passing plays. MLB Nate Webster recorded two tackles, but his biggest play of the game came on a pass deflection in the middle of the field. The linebackers had a rough time containing Vikings TE Byron Chamberlain, who found holes in the Bucs 4-3, Cover 2 defense. Chamberlain caught four passes for 88 yards. As well as Brooks played, he was one of the three Bucs defenders in on Chamberlain's 37-yard catch and run with just over 1:00 left in the fourth quarter. Chamberlain's catch set the Vikings' offense up at the 3-yard line and eventually led to Culpepper's game-winning touchdown run.

GRADE: B-

SECONDARY: The Bucs secondary did a good job of not allowing the Vikings to hit the deep ball, but it came at a price. Culpepper and Minnesota's offense took what was given by Tampa Bay's defense. Culpepper was hitting receivers on short passes, which is often there in the Bucs 4-3, Cover 2 defensive scheme. Culpepper completed 30-of-44 passes for 322 yards (68.2 percent), one touchdown and two interceptions. Culpepper was able to spread the ball out to seven different receivers and his offense amassed 390 net yards. CB Ronde Barber came up with one of Culpepper's two interceptions. His pick came in the fourth quarter when Culpepper misread his receiver's route. Barber's interception stopped a Vikings drive, which was moving into the Bucs territory. Barber committed an illegal contact penalty in the fourth quarter, which gave the Vikings offense a first down. But on the next play, Barber recorded the interception. The Bucs secondary contained WR Randy Moss, but he was still able to get one big play down field. Moss hauled in a 39-yard pass from Culpepper on the sideline, which set Minnesota up in field goal range. Brian Kelly and FS Dexter Jackson both allowed Moss to become open on the sideline. Both Jackson and Kelly each recorded three tackles. SS John Lynch recorded eight tackles against the Vikings. He came up big against the run and pass, but he, and CB Donnie Abraham were covering Chamberlain on his 37-yard receptions. Abraham appeared to go for the interception instead of knocking the ball down. This proved to be a costly mistake. Before the Chamberlain catch, WR Chris Carter, who caught five passes for 62 yards, made a one-handed catch on third down on the sideline to keep the Vikings drive alive. Carter's catch was truly impressive and there was not much the Bucs could have done to prevent the catch. By not allowing Minnesota to hit the deep ball, Minnesota used up a lot of clock by keeping their drives going. Because of this, Tampa Bay's defense was exhausted. The Vikings had the ball for 20:35 of the 30:00 first half, which only allowed the Bucs offense to take the field three times.

*The Vikings recorded 24 first downs against the Bucs defense. Nineteen of them came through the air.

GRADE: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS: Compared to their dismal performance in Week 1 against Dallas, this unit appeared to well prepared. K Martin Gramatica was a big part of the Bucs offense against Minnesota. He drilled 3-of-3 field goal attempts, two of which were from 25-yards out. Gramatica also made a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Rookie CB Dwight Smith returned kicks for Tampa Bay against Minnesota. He ran back five kicks and averaged 25.2 yards per return. Smith also fielded P Mark Royals punt on the Vikings five yard line with late in the fourth quarter. Royals only punted three times and averaged 42.7 yards per punt.

*Gramatica was 3-of-3 on his field goal attempts on Sunday. The Bucs elected to not allow Gramatica to attempt what would have been a 57-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter after a LT Kenyatta Walker penalty. Instead, the Bucs punted and the Vikings engineered an 11-play, 96-yard drive that led to the Vikings game-winning touchdown score.

GRADE: A-


Become an insider today with a subscription to Buccaneer Magazine or the BucMag.com Insiders Pass. Sign up for the Insiders Pass by clicking here or and call 1-800-881-BUCS(2827) to subscribe to Buccaneer Magazine.

Looking for the largest selection of Bucs merchandise on the internet? Check out BucGear.com and BucsStore.com.


Bucs Blitz Top Stories