The Buccaneers were without Pro Bowl safety John Lynch, but his replacement, Jermaine Phillips, picked up the slack by recording his first interception of the season. The stand out performance on defense belonged to cornerback Ronde Barber who forced two turnovers and kept the Dallas rushing attack from breaking outside recording eight tackles.
The offense returned to form by not turning the football over. They must have gotten the turnovers out of their system last week in San Francisco. The Bucs were able to pick up first downs on the ground to sustain drives. Michael Pittman quietly rushed for 113 yards on a work horse like 30 carries. Brad Johnson characteristically spread the ball around to seven different receivers including the game's lone touchdown on a seven yard completion to Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson was booed by the home fans, but touchdowns tend to silence critics. Over the past two weeks Johnson has two receptions for 11 yards and a touchdown.
The Bucs opened up the playbook early in the game when they executed a flea flicker that resulted in a 48 yard gain to tight end Ken Dilger. The drive stalled but the Bucs were given new life when rookie cornerback Terrance Newman ran into Martin Gramatica on his field goal attempt. The old adage is "don't ever take points off the board", but Jon Gruden decided to do just that and the Buccaneers scored a touchdown two plays later. If the outcome had been different, Gruden would have faced scrutiny all week. But as it stands, he will get credit for a "gutsy" call – credit that is due him nearly every week.
The Buccaneers got themselves back on track Sunday, but it remains to be seen if they can pull it together on a weekly basis. With Carolina showing no signs of slowing down, it essential to the Bucs success that they string together a winning streak over the next month. The November schedule is loaded with teams that the Bucs should beat and includes an all important showdown with the division leading Panthers on November 9th.
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