Bucs Game Grades

December 2 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won back-to-back games for the first time this season by downing the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime, 16-13, but the win didn't come easy. The Pewter Pirates offense couldn't find the end zone against Cincinnati's defense nor could they find a way to put the Bengals away. The Bucs squandered a 10-point fourth quarter lead, but managed to pull out a win in overtime at Paul Brown Stadium. Buccaneer Magazine hands out grades based on the Bucs' performance.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: Completed 26-of-33 passes for 231 yards and didn't throw a touchdown or interception. Johnson completed a whopping 78.8 percent of his passes against the Bengals and completed his first 14 pass attempts—one shy of the club record. Although Johnson completed his first 14 passes of the game, he started off a bit shaky. On their first drive, Johnson was forced to take a coverage sack on a planned screen pass because the Bengals defense had it covered. He then tripped over C Jeff Christy's feet for the second sack of the game. Johnson also took a delay of game penalty by having the play clock run out before getting the ball snapped. Then, Johnson threw an interception, but a holding penalty negated it and gave the Bucs a first down. Despite the shaky start, Johnson still managed to lead the Bucs offense down into field goal position. Johnson did extremely well considering the lack of time he was provided to throw by his offensive line. The Bengals produced a solid and consistent pass rush, causing him to throw faster than he would have liked to. Johnson's most impressive throw of the game came in the third quarter when he avoided a Bengals blitz and hit WR Keyshawn Johnson Johnson in stride down the sideline on a fade. B. Johnson hooked up with K. Johnson for a 34-yard completion. Johnson made smart decisions with the football and made some unbelievably accurate passes.

*Tampa Bay controlled the time of possession against the Bengals, 39:40 to 25:26.

GRADE: B+

RUNNING BACKS:

RB WARRICK DUNN: Dunn rushed 21 times for just 42 yards. He averaged just 2.0 yards per carry against the Bengals defense. Dunn's longest run of the game was for 11-yards. Dunn didn't appear to have much room to run behind his offensive line, but also seemed to hesitate to hit holes. Dunn also struggled at times to pick up Cincinnati's linebacker blitzes. In overtime, the Bucs had drove down into field goal range on the Bengals defense, but on third-down, B. Johnson dropped back to pass and was immediately sacked because Dunn appeared to get confused and hesitated for a split second. The hesitation was enough to lead to a sack and move the Bucs out of field goal range. Dunn was not a factor in the passing game. He caught three passes for just five yards.

FB MIKE ALSTOTT: The A-Train rushed six times for 24 yards, including a long of 11-yards. Alstott averaged 6.0 yards per carry and fared a bit better against Cincinnati's physical defense than Dunn did. In the passing game, Alstott caught three passes for 31 yards, including a 12-yarder. But Alstott fumbled the football in the third quarter, which stalled Tampa Bay's drive deep in Cincinnati's territory.

*Tampa Bay gained just 65 yards net rushing against Cincinnati's defense.

GRADE: C-

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR KEYSHAWN JOHNSON: Johnson caught seven passes for 85 yards. His longest reception came in the third quarter when B. Johnson hit him in stride down the sideline for a 34-yard gain. His reception led to a K Martin Gramatica field goal. Johnson also came up with a big 12-yard reception in the overtime period on third-and-7, and also came up with another 10-yard catch to set the Bucs up in field goal range. But the Bucs would later get knocked back out of field goal range when B. Johnson was sacked.

WR JACQUEZ GREEN: Green hauled in seven catches for 67 yards. Green had a very productive day against the Bengals, especially on the Bucs' first drive of the game. Green caught a pass from Johnson to pick up a first down on a third down play. Green's longest reception of the game was a 14-yarder. Green also went high for a pass in the fourth quarter and came up with it, but temporarily left the game after hitting the turf hard. Green's one mistake of the game was a false start penalty he received. Green definitely made his opportunities count.

*The Buccaneers offense converted 5-of-14 third downs.

GRADE: B

TIGHT ENDS:

TE DAVE MOORE: Moore caught four passes for 32 yards. Moore's longest reception went for 11-yards. Moore did a nice job of holding onto the football when a Cincinnati defender drilled him immediately after one of his catches. Moore also picked up a big first down with one of his four receptions. Like the rest of Tampa Bay's offensive line, Moore had a hard time holding off Cincinnati's defensive rush.

TE TODD YODER: Yoder caught one pass for 4-yards, but it was the first reception of his career.

GRADE: C+

OFFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay's offensive line struggled against a very physical group in the Cincinnati defense. The Bucs O-line yielded six sacks, which was a season-high for the Bengals defense. The Bucs offensive line also allowed B. Johnson to be hurried often. Tampa Bay's offensive line struggled to open up holes for their running game. The Bucs running backs only managed to run for 68 yards on 27 carries.

GRADE: C-

DEFENSIVE LINE:

DE SIMEON RICE: Rice finished four tackles and two huge sacks. Rice's first sack came in the second quarter on a third down play. Rice's sack on Kitna caused the Bengals to punt. The punt that followed was blocked by CB Ronde Barber and returned for a touchdown by TE Todd Yoder. Rice's second sack came in the fourth quarter when he brought down Kitna and forced a fumble. The ball was almost recovered by DT Warren Sapp, but the Bengals eventually recovered the football.

DT WARREN SAPP: Sapp recorded just one tackle against Cincinnati, but he was double-teamed by the Bengals offensive line. In the fourth quarter and the Bucs leading the Bengals, 13-3, Sapp had an opportunity to pick up a fumble caused by DE Simeon Rice. But in his efforts to pick up the football and run with it, one of his own teammates knocked the ball out of his hands and the Bengals retained possession. In hindsight, Sapp should've just fell on the football, but if he did not have the ball knocked out of his hands, he would have probably ran it in for a touchdown.

DE MARCUS JONES: Jones didn't record a single tackle, but he did bat a QB Jon Kitna pass up in the air and nearly intercepted it, but Kitna broke up the pick. Jones was also flagged for being offsides one time against the Bengals.

DT ANTHONY McFARLAND: Recorded three tackles and played well against the run.

*Tampa Bay's defense allowed RB Corey Dillon to rush for just 79 yards on 23 carries (3.4 yards per carry). Most of those yards came with under 2:00 left in the fourth quarter. The front four also rushed Kitna well.

GRADE: B+

LINEBACKERS:

MLB JAMIE DUNCAN: Recorded four tackles, but his biggest play of the game might have been an illegal one. After Bengals RB Corey Dillon fumbled, SS John Lynch went to recover it, but meanwhile, Duncan latched onto Dillon's facemask, which prevented him from turning around and looking for the football.

LOLB SHELTON QUARLES: Quarles recorded four tackles (three solo). Quarles' biggest play of the game was when he chased QB Jon Kitna to the sideline and forced him to run out of bounds before he could pass it. The play resulted in a much-deserved 10-yard sack.

ROLB DERRICK BROOKS: Quietly led Tampa Bay's defense with 11 tackles (eight solo).

LB AL SINGLETON: Recorded one tackle and assisted on another. Singleton sandwiched Bengals TE Tony McGee between CB Brian Kelly, which knocked the Bengals tight end out of the remainder of the game.

*Tampa Bay's defense held Cincinnati to three points through three quarters and only allowed the Bengals to converted 6-of-16 third down conversions.

GRADE: B

SECONDARY:

CB DONNIE ABRAHAM: Did a good job filling in as the team's nickel back. Abraham recorded two tackles, but more importantly intercepted QB Jon Kitna's pass in the fourth quarter on a third down play. Abraham was also called for a facemask penalty on RB Corey Dillon and a defensive pass interference penalty on WR Charles Johnson (Keyshawn's cousin).

CB BRIAN KELLY: Kelly recorded five tackles (four solo) against the Bengals. Kelly turned in some huge plays against the Bengals. Kelly's first play came in the second quarter when he put a crushing tackle on Bengals TE Tony McGee. Kelly and LB Al Singleton sandwiched McGee and knocked him out for the remainder of the game. Kelly came up with another big play in the fourth quarter when he blitzed Bengals QB Jon Kitna and jumped in the air and tipped Kitna's pass attempt, which caused an incompletion. On the very next play, Kitna threw a 3-yard out to his receiver on the line of scrimmage, but Kelly made a nice open field tackle. If Kelly didn't make the tackle, the Bengals receiver had a lot of running room in front of him. But perhaps Kelly's biggest play came one play later when Kitna threw deep into the end zone for WR Charles Johnson. The Bengals rookie wide receiver appeared to be open for a second, but Kelly leaped into the air and batted the ball down, which prevented the touchdown.

SS JOHN LYNCH: Lynch recorded seven tackles (five solo). Lynch's biggest play of the game came in overtime on the Bengals 3-yard line. Kitna handed the ball off to RB Corey Dillon, but Lynch punched the football out of Dillon's hands and managed to recover the ball, too. This set up the game-winning field goal by K Martin Gramatica.

FS DEXTER JACKSON: Jackson came up with four tackles against the Bucs. Jackson broke up a third down pass in the end zone on the Bengals' first drive of the game. This forced Cincinnati to kick a field goal. Jackson also appeared to come up with a big tackle on their own goal line with second remaining in the fourth quarter. But RB Corey Dillon powered his way toward the end zone and scored the touchdown. The play was reviewed by the referees to see if the ball crossed the goal line, but there were no camera angles that could show he did not, so the touchdown counted.

CB RONDE BARBER: Recorded nine tackles against the Bengals. Barber forced RB Corey Dillon to fumble on Cincinnati's first offensive drive of the game, but the Bucs couldn't recover it. Barber was called for pass interference on WR Darnay Scott during the same drive.

*Tampa Bay's secondary allowed Cincinnati QB Jon Kitna to complete 19-of-38 passes for just 144 yards. Tampa Bay's defense did, however, allow Cincinnati's offense to score 10 points in the fourth quarter.

GRADE: B+

SPECIAL TEAMS:

CB RONDE BARBER: Barber blocked a punt in the second quarter, which bounced off of the ground and into TE Todd Yoder's hands for Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the game.

TE TODD YODER: Yoder pursued the football well after Barber blocked it. Yoder returned the football 11-yards for a touchdown-the first of his career.

K MARTIN GRAMATICA: Gramatica struggled on Sunday. He made 3-of-5 field goal attempts, including a 21-yard field goal to win the game in overtime. Gramatica missed a 43-yard field goal after Tampa Bay's offense drove down the field on their first possession of the game. Gramatica's second miss was a tough kick from 52-yards away. Gramatica appeared to struggle on bad field conditions in Paul Brown Stadium. He also suffered from a intestinal virus throughout the week.

P MARK ROYALS: Royals punted just three times and averaged 39 yards per punt. Royals came up with a huge punt in overtime when he pinned the Bengals back on their own 3-yard line.

KR FRANK MURPHY: Returned two kicks for just 20 yards. Cincinnati didn't really give Murphy a clean kickoff to field, which made it difficult for the Bucs to block for him.

PR KARL WILLIAMS: Returned two punts and averaged just 6.5 yards per return. Williams was forced to fair catch the Bengals first punt.

GRADE: B+


Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

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