Bucs Game Grades

October 21 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dropped an important home game to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, 17-10. The Steelers put up some impressive numbers on the Pewter Pirates and dropped QB Brad Johnson 10 sacks. Buccaneer Magazine has the position grades based on the Bucs' performance against the Steelers.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: Johnson completed 24-of-40 passes for 283 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception. Johnson was not provided time to throw by his offensive line and the Steelers unmercifully blitzed him on Sunday. Johnson was sacked 10 times, which tied a franchise record of 10 sacks allowed back in 1977. Although Johnson did not have time to throw, he delivered the football with exceptional accuracy and gave life to an offense that was nonexistent against the Steelers. Johnson did, however, hold onto the ball too long on a few plays, which resulted in coverage sacks. Johnson also struggled to see the blitzes coming, but Pittsburgh did a good job of disguising them. Johnson's interception should have been caught in the end zone by WR Keyshawn Johnson, but the ball popped out of K. Johnson's hands and into Mike Logan's.

*The Bucs offense could only convert 4-of-15 third down conversions.

GRADE: B-

RUNNING BACKS:

RB WARRICK DUNN: Dunn carried the ball 13 times for 31 yards (2.4 average) and his longest run of the game was 9-yards. Dunn struggled to pick up Pittsburgh's blitzes and was hardly featured in the passing game. Dunn also hesitated to run through holes that his offensive line occasionally opened for him.

FB MIKE ALSTOTT: Alstott carried the ball three times for 15 yards (5.0 avg.). The A-Train helped drive the Bucs down the field and set up K Martin Gramatica's field goal in the second quarter. But after that drive, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen did not go back to the A-Train. Alstott did a fantastic job of blocking and picked up several Pittsburgh blitzes.

*The Buccaneers rushed for 64 net yards against the Steelers.

GRADE: D+

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR KEYSHAWN JOHNSON Johnson hauled in 10 passes for 159 yards. Johnson gave the Bucs offense a pulse, but on Tampa Bay's only touchdown drive of the game late in the fourth quarter, Johnson was unable to contribute because he was sidelined with an injury. Johnson made some very impressive catches and took a beating after them. Johnson did, however, drop B. Johnson's pass into the end zone in-between three Pittsburgh defenders. The pass fell right into Johnson's hands and popped out on his way down the ground. This resulted in an interception. Johnson gets an "A" for his performance against the Steelers.

WR JACQUEZ GREEN: Green had four catches for 44 yards. But Green had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter after suffering another groin injury.

WR KARL WILLIAMS: Williams caught three passes for 42 yards. He appeared to make a clutch catch on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, but after a replay, Williams was ruled out of bounds before his knees could fall in bounds. The catch would have kept Tampa Bay's drive going with a first down.

WR FRANK MURPHY: With K. Johnson and Green leaving the game late in the fourth quarter with injuries, Murphy stepped up to make some big plays for the Bucs offense. Murphy's biggest catch came in the end zone with less than a minute left to play for Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the game. Murphy caught three passes for 17 yards, including his 6-yard touchdown reception.

GRADE: B-

TIGHT ENDS:

TE DAVE MOORE: Moore saw limited action in the passing game, again. He caught one pass for 3 yards. Moore was left in to help protect QB Brad Johnson, but failed to pick up the constant Pittsburgh blitzes. Moore had his biggest problems trying to pick up the corner blitzes.

GRADE: F

OFFENSIVE LINE:

This unit did a terrible job as a whole, so there is no need to breakdown their play individually. RG Cosey Coleman and LG Randall McDaniel struggled to block for the Bucs running backs and Coleman struggled just as much in pass protection as well. LT Kenyatta Walker continued to suffer through growing pains in his rookie campaign. Simply put, the Bucs offensive line was dominated and outplayed by the Steelers relentless defense. The offensive line was a big reason why QB Brad Johnson was on his back all game long against the Steelers and they were overwhelmed by Pittsburgh's constant blitzing.

Tampa Bay's offensive line gave up 10 sacks against Pittsburgh, which tied a record for most sacks given up by a Bucs' team, set back in 1977.

GRADE: F

DEFENSIVE LINE:

After holding the Steelers to 18 yards rushing in the first half, this unit fell apart quickly in the third quarter. Pittsburgh RB Jerome Bettis 46-yards untouched during a brief rainstorm in the third quarter to give the Steelers a 14-3 lead. Bettis then rushed for 15-yards and then broke a 29-yard run to set up a Pittsburgh field goal. Bettis rushed 17 times for 143 yards and one touchdown. Bettis averaged 8.4 yards per carry against Tampa Bay's defense. DT Warren Sapp and DE Marcus Jones each finished the game with three tackles while DT Anthony McFarland recorded two tackles. McFarland recorded one of the two Buccaneer sacks. Tampa Bay's defensive line continued to struggle in their attempts to pressure the quarterback.

Not only did Bettis to run wild on Sunday, but QB Kordell Stewart was able to help keep Tampa Bay's defense off balance. Stewart rushed seven times for 32 yards (4.6 avg.).

*Tampa Bay's defensive line allowed Pittsburgh to rush for a total of 220 yards on Sunday.

GRADE: D

LINEBACKERS:

LB Derrick Brooks: only recorded four tackles, but was playing injured. MLB Jamie Duncan: recorded seven tackles against the Steelers while LB Shelton Quarles recorded three tackles. Tampa Bay's linebackers didn't help their front four stop the run and although Brooks is playing, they could surely benefit from him being healthy.

*Tampa Bay's defense allowed the Steelers to convert 4-of-6 third downs into first downs in the first half and 6-of-10 on the day.

GRADE: D

SECONDARY: The Bucs secondary allowed QB Kordell Stewart to completed 10-of-16 for 100 yards, but intercepted him twice. Both of Stewart's passes were intercepted by CB Ronde Barber. Barber pulled in his first interception in the first quarter when the Steelers were driving. Barber leaped over Pittsburgh WR Plaxico Burress (6-foot-5, 228lbs) to intercept the ball and halt the Steelers' drive. Barber's second interception of the game came in the fourth quarter and appeared to give the Bucs offense life, but it turned out to be only temporary. FS Dexter Jackson did not play against the Steelers with a thigh contusion, so rookie S John Howell got the start and led the team in tackles with 13 (10 solo). SS John Lynch recorded six tackles and also recorded a sack by brining down Stewart. The secondary was fooled on a play that was very reminiscent to the game-winning touchdown pass from Jets RB Curtis Martin to WR Wayne Chrebet last year at Raymond James Stadium. In the second quarter and on a third down and 1 play, Stewart took the snap and tossed to RB Jerome Bettis. Bettis then threw a 32-yard touchdown pass on the halfback option to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead. Tampa Bay's entire defense, including the secondary, ran toward Bettis and forgot about TE Jerame Tuman, who hauled in Bettis' pass.

GRADE: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS: This unit played well. K Martin Gramatica drilled a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead. But Gramatica's most impressive play of the game came with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Steelers winning, 17-10. After Murphy's touchdown, Gramatica placed a onside kick perfectly and CB Brian Kelly appeared to snag the ball out of midair, but after several minutes of referee discussions, the officials reviewed the play and determined Kelly never possessed the football and overturned their original call. The call secured the Pittsburgh victory. WR Frank Murphy sparked Tampa Bay's only touchdown drive when he fielded a Pittsburgh punt and returned it 34-yards. Murphy was one tackle away from going the distance. Punter Mark Royals punted five times and averaged 44 yards per punt.

GRADE: B+


Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

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