Bucs Game Grades

October 28 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally looked like a Super Bowl contender en route to their 41-13 thrashing of the Minnesota Vikings. The Bucs offense, defense and special teams completely dominated the Vikings at Raymond James Stadium. Buccaneer Magazine grades the Pewter Pirates' performances from Sunday's Bucs win over the Vikings.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: Johnson completed 18-of-25 (72 percent) passes for 214 yards and threw two touchdowns. Johnson was provided plenty of time behind his offensive line and played well. Even though Johnson had a great day passing the football, perhaps his biggest play was on the ground. On Tampa Bay's second offensive possession of the game, the Buccaneers were faced with a fourth down and 1 yard to go on Minnesota's 39 yard line. Johnson ran a quarterback sneak to the right side of the offensive line and picked up the first down. The drive later resulted in a touchdown. Johnson had two fantastic pass plays to RB Aaron Stecker. Johnson avoided a Viking blitz by backpedaling and then dumping the ball off to Stecker on a designed screen pass, and then received some nice blocks up the field on his way into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown. Later in the game, Johnson was about to be sacked, but alertly dumped the ball off to Stecker, who was wide open in front of him and this turned into a 16-yard gain. Johnson's second touchdown pass of the game went to TE Dave Moore from 5-yards out at the end of the second quarter.

QB SHAUN KING: King completed 2-of-3 passes for 62 yards. King came into the game in the fourth quarter and moved the Bucs out of their own end zone by hitting WR Frank Murphy on the sideline for a first down. King also hit WR Karl Williams across the middle of the field for a 42-yard gain late in the fourth quarter. This pass play gave the Bucs offense a new set of downs and allowed them to run the clock out.

*The Bucs offense scored on four of its first five possessions in the first half and generated 297 total yards. Tampa Bay's offense had a total of 439 net yards.

GRADE: A-

RUNNING BACKS:

FB MIKE ALSTOTT: 28 carries for 129 yards (4.6 avg.) and scored three rushing touchdowns. The A-Train filled in well for RB Warrick Dunn, who was nursing a hamstring injury and did not play against Minnesota. Alstott broke tackles all game and pounded the Vikings defense from the start of the game until he was pulled out in the fourth quarter. Alstott scored two touchdowns in the first half from 3 and 5-yards out. Late in the third quarter, the A-Train broke two tackles on his way into the end zone from 10-yards out to make the score 41-8. Alstott caught one pass against Minnesota, but made it count by gaining 15-yards on the play.

RB Aaron Stecker: Eight carries for 30 yards (3.8 avg.). Stecker's longest run of the game came late in the fourth quarter where his 17-yard run allowed Tampa Bay's offense to take a knee and finish the game. Stecker came up just short of scoring a touchdown on the play. Stecker's biggest contributions came in the passing game, where he was on the receiving end of Johnson's screen pass under pressure, which Stecker caught and took it 35-yards to the end zone for his first touchdown in the NFL. Stecker was also on the receiving end of Johnson's shovel pass as the Bucs quarterback was being brought to the ground. Stecker gained 16-yards on the play.

FB JAMEEL COOK: The rookie fullback did an excellent job of lead blocking for Alstott and down the field blocking for receivers.

*Alstott helped the Bucs convert a whopping 20 first downs in the first half of Sunday's game against the Vikings.

*The Bucs rushing attack gained 177 total yards on the ground and helped the offense possess the ball for 38:04 of the 60:00 in the game.

GRADE: A+

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR KEYSHAWN JOHNSON: Johnson caught five passes for 62 yards, but only played one half of football against Minnesota. Johnson's longest reception was a 21-yarder across the middle of the field at the end of the second quarter. But a few plays later, B. Johnson threw incomplete to K. Johnson and K.J. was hurt on the play. Johnson never returned to the game and was diagnosed with a right knee bruise.

WR REIDEL ANTHONY: Anthony caught two passes for 21 yards, but both were huge. Anthony's biggest contribution came on an end around, where he appeared to be brought down for a loss, but fought off two tackles and ran up field for a 16-yard gain. Anthony also did a good job of blocking up the field against Minnesota. Anthony did a fine job of filling in as the Bucs' No. 2 receiver with WR Jacquez Green out with a groin injury.

WR KARL WILLIAMS: Williams hauled in four passes for 80 yards. Williams stepped up as the Bucs No. 3 receiver vs. Minnesota. His longest play of the game came on a QB Shaun King pass late in the fourth quarter. King hit Williams in stride across the middle of the field for a 42-yard gain. This play allowed the Buccaneers offense to run the clock out.

WR FRANK MURPHY: Murphy had one catch for 7-yards. Although Murphy only had one reception, it turned out to be a pretty big one. The Bucs offense was pinned back in their own territory in the fourth quarter on third down when King hit Murphy on the sideline to give Tampa Bay a fresh set of downs.

*Tampa Bay's offense converted 8-of-14 third downs against Minnesota.

GRADE: B+

TIGHT ENDS:

TE DAVE MOORE: Moore caught five passes for 27 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. Not only did Moore have his most productive game as a receiver this season, but he also has his best game blocking.

GRADE: B

OFFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay's offensive line only allowed Johnson to be sacked one time, provided a substantial amount of time for Johnson to throw and opened up some nice holes for Alstott and the Bucs running game against Minnesota. RT Jerry Wunsch provided a key block on a Viking defender which allowed Anthony to get free on the end around in the second quarter. RG Randall McDaniel was called for a holding penalty and LT Kenyatta Walker was called for an unsportsmen-like penalty after a Bucs touchdown.

GRADE: B+

DEFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay's defensive front four put a substantial amount of pressure on Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper on Sunday. DT Chartric Darby was the only defensive lineman to bring down Culpepper for a sack. DT Warren Sapp recorded three tackles and assisted on three others. DT Anthony McFarland recorded one tackle and assisted on one other. Defensive ends Marcus Jones and Simeon Rice each recorded one tackle. The most important thing Tampa Bay's defensive line was able to was limit Culpepper's scrambling yards. The Bucs defense held Culpepper to nine carries for 46 yards (5.1 avg.). Culpepper's longest run was for 16-yards.

*Tampa Bay's defense did not allow Minnesota to get a first down in the first half and held the Vikings to 44 yards total offense.

GRADE: B+

LINEBACKERS: Tampa Bay's linebackers did a good job of containing Minnesota's tight ends and fullbacks. LB Derrick Brooks: recorded three tackles against Minnesota. MLB Jamie Duncan led the team in tackles with seven (5 solo). LB Al Singleton: filled in for Brooks late in the fourth quarter while Tampa Bay had a secure lead. While filling in, Singleton sacked QB Todd Bouman for a short loss.

*Tampa Bay's defense limited Minnesota's offense to just 62 yards on the ground and only allowed the Vikings to convert 3-of-12 third downs.

GRADE: B

SECONDARY: Tampa Bay's secondary held Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper to 150 yards passing on Sunday and their tackling was as crisp as ever. FS Dexter Jackson intercepted Culpepper in the third quarter on a tipped pass. Jackson did a nice job of catching the ball and keeping his feet in bounds. Jackson's interception set up K Martin Gramatica's 48-yard field goal. Jackson finished the game with three tackles. CB Brian Kelly started for CB Donnie Abraham. It is not yet clear why Abraham did not start against the Vikings, but Kelly had a so-so performance. Kelly was called for two pass interference penalties. The first one was probably legitimate, but the second one did not appear to be legit. Both of Kelly's penalties led to Vikings scores, but Kelly made some good plays, too. Kelly sacked QB Todd Bouman while Minnesota appeared headed for a touchdown. The sack dropped Bouman and the Vikings offense 15-yards and kept Minnesota out of the end zone. CB Ronde Barber sacked Culpepper on a blitz in the second half of Sunday's game. Barber came in on the left side of the defensive line and brought Culpepper down by the jersey. Barber recorded four tackles against Minnesota, but was also called for illegal contact on one play. FS John Lynch recorded two tackles vs. the Vikings.

*Tampa Bay's secondary held Minnesota WR Randy Moss to three receptions for 49 yards and one touchdown and WR Chris Carter to four catches for 55 yards on Sunday. The defense also held Minnesota to just 168 net yards.

GRADE: B+

SPECIAL TEAMS: Tampa Bay's special teams had a solid effort against Minnesota. WR/PR Karl Williams had a 28-yard punt return, which set up K Martin Gramatica's first 48-yard field goal. Gramatica drilled another 48-yarder after Tampa Bay's next offensive drive. Although Gramatica's last kickoff bounced on the field and tumbled 5-yards out of bounds, he did a great job on kickoffs. TE Todd Yoder and RB/FB Rabih Abdullah each recorded nice open field tackles on kick returns. P Mark Royals started off the game shaky, but finished the game with just two punts and averaged 41.5 yards per punt. C Todd Washington fielded a chip shot kickoff by Vikings K Mitch Berger and rocked a Minnesota defender attempting to tackle him on his way to gaining 22-yards on the kickoff. Rookie CB/KR Dwight Smith struggled to field kickoffs, again. Smith bobbled the opening kickoff out of bounds on Tampa Bay's own five yard line. Smith bobbled the last kickoff of the game as well, and then picked it up and ran into a pile of Vikings before fumbling the ball. The Vikings recovered, but did not score on the drive.

GRADE: B


Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

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