Bucs Game Grades

December 23 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept their playoff hopes alive on Sunday by marching all over the New Orleans Saints en route to their 48-21 win at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs had scored a total of 16 points in the first quarter through 13 games this season, but the Pewter Pirates jumped out to a 17-0 lead after the first 15:00 of play and never looked back. Buccaneer Magazine hands out grades to the Pewter Pirates based on their impressive performance against the Saints.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: Johnson completed 16-of-31 passes for 207 yards and threw three touchdowns. Johnson benefited from the time he was provided throughout the game against the New Orleans defense. Johnson was not sacked one time, and was quite impressive with his pass attempts. Johnson hooked up with WR Karl Williams for a 14-yard touchdown pass to WR Karl Williams in the first quarter. Johnson's second touchdown pass went to RB Warrick Dunn, who scored on a 17-yarder in the second quarter. Johnson's third and final interception came in the fourth quarter when Johnson threw a beautiful fade pass to TE Dave Moore for a four-yard touchdown.

QB SHAUN KING: Although King did not throw a pass, he did run in a two-point conversion after CB Ronde Barber returned an interception for a touchdown with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter. King replaced Johnson with about 5:00 left in the fourth quarter and did a nice job of scrambling and getting the ball into the end zone on the two-point conversion.

*Tampa Bay went into halftime with a 30-0 lead over the New Orleans Saints.

GRADE: A-

RUNNING BACKS:

FB MIKE ALSTOTT: The A-Train rushed 24 times for 101 yards (4.2 avg.) and scored one touchdown. The offensive line gave Alstott some nice holes to run through, but the A-Train just bulled his way through New Orleans defense for extra yardage throughout the game. Alstott's longest run was a 15-yarder. His touchdown came in the first quarter after CB Ronde Barber intercepted QB Aaron Brooks. Alstott ran the ball into the end zone from 1-yard out. Alstott hauled in one pass for seven yards.

RB WARRICK DUNN: Dunn didn't have a great game on the ground, but like Alstott, Dunn also benefited from holes opened by the offensive line. Dunn rushed 10 times for 32 yards (3.2 avg.). Dunn's longest run of the game was a 6-yarder. Dunn came up huge in the passing game in the second quarter when he caught a pass from B. Johnson and ran 17-yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

FB JAMEEL COOK: Cook had an outstanding game as a lead blocker for Alstott and Dunn. Cook also contributed by hauling in two passes for 23 yards, including a 16-yard reception.

*Tampa Bay rushed for 157 net yards rushing and averaged 4.0 yards per rush.

GRADE: A-

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR KEYSHAWN JOHNSON: Johnson only had two receptions, but both were huge. Johnson's longest reception was a 25-yarder down the sideline. Johnson did a nice job of keeping his feet in bounds. Johnson's first reception was a 16-yarder in the second quarter, which led to a K Martin Gramatica field goal.

WR KARL WILLIAMS: Williams' biggest reception was his first one, which came in the first quarter after RB Aaron Stecker returned the opening kickoff 85-yards. B. Johnson completed a pass to Williams, who muscled his way into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. WR JACQUEZ GREEN: Green only caught one pass, but it was an impressive one. On a fourth down-and-3 in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay decided to go for it and B. Johnson hit Green on the sideline to get the first down. The ball was thrown behind Green, but he made a nice adjustment on the ball and was able to keep both feet in bounds.

*Tampa Bay was able to get 25 first downs against New Orleans defense on Sunday.

GRADE: B

TIGHT ENDS:

TE DAVE MOORE: Moore had his best game of the season against the Saints. Moore led the team in receptions with three and had 55 yards receiving. Moore hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter from B. Johnson on a nice fade play. Moore was running open quite often and also did a nice job of blocking up front. Moore almost hauled in a touchdown pass earlier in the game, but he was drilled immediately after B. Johnson placed the ball in-between the eight and the three on Moore's jersey. The ball came out of Moore's arms and fell incomplete.

GRADE: B+

OFFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay offensive line did an outstanding job of protecting B. Johnson and opening holes in the running game. This was by far their best performance of the season. Tampa Bay's offensive line physically dominated one of the most physically dominating defensive front fours in the league.

*Tampa Bay's offensive line didn't allow a single sack and was a big part of why the Pewter Pirates were able to rush for 157 net yards. Tampa Bay's offense held the ball for 36:13 vs. New Orleans offense, who had the ball for just 23:47.

GRADE: A

DEFENSIVE LINE: Tampa Bay's defensive line held RB Ricky Williams to just 26 yards on 10 carries (2.6 avg.). DT Warren Sapp recorded one tackle and one assist, but came teamed up with DT Anthony McFarland to sack QB Aaron Brooks. Sapp and Co. put consistent pressure on Brooks, which forced him into throwing four interceptions. DE Simeon Rice also had a big game by sacking Brooks twice and recording six tackles. Bucs DE Marcus Jones recorded four tackles and pressured Brooks on a number of occasions. Bucs DE Steve White also recorded six tackles.

*Tampa Bay's defense held New Orleans' offense to just 34 yards and one first down in the first half.

LINEBACKERS: Tampa Bay's linebackers had a very active day, but no one had a busier day than ROLB Derrick Brooks, who recorded 16 tackles and broke up a couple of passes. Brooks sustained excellent coverage in the passing game as well. MLB Jamie Duncan had a quiet, but effective game. Duncan recorded six tackles and was a solid presence in the middle in terms of stopping the run.

GRADE: B+

SECONDARY:

CB RONDE BARBER: Barber had an outstanding game against the Saints. Barber tied a franchise record by recording three interceptions in one game. Barber came up with two interceptions in the first half. His first set up a touchdown and his second came on the last play of the first half, where RB Ricky Williams held onto Barber's foot and was the only thing that stopped him from running into the end zone. Barber's third interception came with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter when he picked off QB Aaron Brooks and sprinted 36-yards into the end zone to put the Bucs up, 48-21. Barber also added six tackles.

SS JOHN LYNCH: Lynch had 10 tackles and set the tone for Tampa Bay's defense by putting some brutal licks on RB Ricky Williams on New Orleans first drive.

FS DEXTER JACKSON: Jackson had six tackles and a huge interception in the second quarter. Jackson picked off A. Brooks and returned it 20-yards. The turnover later led to a K Martin Gramatica field goal.

CB BRIAN KELLY: Kelly also recorded 10 tackles, and was a big reason why QB Aaron Brooks was only able to complete 55 percent of his passes.

CB DONNIE ABRAHAM: Record four tackles.

*Tampa Bay's secondary came up with four interceptions and held Saints QB Aaron Brooks and Co. in check for the first half. Brooks completed 21-of-38 passes for 248 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.

GRADE: B

SPECIAL TEAMS:

RB AaRON STECKER: Stecker set the tone of the game by returning the opening kickoff 86-yards to New Orleans. Stecker was one tackler away from making history, as the Bucs have never returned a kickoff for a touchdown in franchise history. But Stecker's return did lead to a touchdown three plays later.

K MARTIN GRAMATICA: Gramatica drilled 4-of-4 field goals and was perfect on his extra point attempts. Gramatica had one kickoff go out of bounds, which gave New Orleans' offense the ball at the 40-yard line. Gramatica had to leave the game with 9:00 remaining after he kicked an extra point and appeared to injure his leg on the attempt. Gramatica has a strained right hamstring.

SS JOHN LYNCH: Lynch came up with the football on one of the Saints' onside kick tries, but he also took over the kickoff duties for Gramatica. Lynch handled kickoff duties twice and did an admirable job.

CB DWIGHT SMITH: Smith had a solid effort on special teams, but he was flagged for roughing the punter in the fourth quarter, which gave New Orleans a first down.

P MARK ROYALS: Royals only had to punt three times and averaged 42.7 yards per punt. Royals was able to pin the Saints' offense inside their own 5-yard line on one of his punts.

GRADE: A


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