Bucs Hope to Crash the Party
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing for little more than pride this weekend, but a little goes a long way. Although the Bucs are technically still in the NFC playoff hunt, due mostly to the lack of talent in the league, not to their own successes, they can still stick it to one of their bitter rivals on Sunday. The Atlanta Falcons visit Raymond James Stadium on Sunday and can clinch the NFC South with a win. The Bucs don't want it happening in their house. "We can let the motivational facts work for us,'' linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "We need to get our fifth win to stay in the playoff hunt. With that being in mind we did talk about it and we don't want that to happen in our stadium. If that is the case, let them do it somewhere else.'' Whatever happens, the Bucs will be doing it without Martin Gramatica. The kicker was released on Tuesday after going just 11-for-19 in field goal attempts this season. He missed three in the Bucs' 17-14 loss at Carolina last week that all but put the final nail in the Bucs' coffin. He was replaced by Arena Football League kicker Jay Taylor who has never kicked in the NFL. "I'm excited to get the chance to get an opportunity like this,'' Taylor said after his first practice with the Bucs. "I have been waiting a long time for it. I feel I am ready and I am just going to try to do the best that I can. Taylor had previously been on the Bucs' practice squad, and said he had an idea something was up while watching the Carolina debacle. "It came across my mind,'' Taylor said. "They had given me a little heads up that they may be calling me. I was just sitting at home, waiting for that phone call.'' To beat Atlanta, the Bucs will have to throw the ball against an Atlanta defense that is weak against the pass. That shouldn't be a problem. Brian Griese has improved with each week and has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. With Joey Galloway and Joe Jurevicius at top speed, the Bucs should be able to score points. The problem is containing Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick. Vick had a big game against the Bucs three weeks ago in Atlanta, leading the Falcons to a 24-14 win. One thing working in the Bucs' favor is the home field advantage. They have won three straight at Raymond James, and they still have to have playoff hopes in the back of their minds as the breaks keep falling their way. They are one game out of the final spot in the NFC playoffs, but have to have Sunday's divisional win if it comes down to tiebreakers. Next week, the Bucs travel to California to face the red-hot San Diego Chargers.
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