Bucs Game Grades

August 16 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers blanked the Jacksonville Jaguars in ALLTEL Stadium on Friday night, 20 -0. Tampa Bay's defense was solid while its special teams unit caused Jacksonville to miss two field goal attempts. Which players fared well? Which players didn't? Pewter Report has distributed grades based on the Buccaneers' performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night.

QUARTERBACKS
Bucs starting QB Brad Johnson made some nice throws under pressure. He completed 6-of-12 passes for 97 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown or interception. Johnson took a pounding against Jacksonville, including a personal foul/late hit, which moved the Bucs to Jacksonville's 10-yard line. Johnson almost had a pass in the end zone intercepted by Danny Clark, but he dropped it. The pass was intended for TE Ken Dilger. For the most part, Johnson delivered some nice passes to his receivers, but his arm looked a bit weak.

Bucs second-string QB Rob Johnson entered the game with 12:00 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Rob Johnson completed 8-of-11 passes for 74 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and zero interceptions. He completed his first pass attempt on a slant to WR Frank Murphy. Rob Johnson fumbled on third down on his first offensive series after he held onto the football a bit too long. In his defense, the Jags were in zone coverage and the Bucs had a mile to go for a first down. Rob Johnson led the Bucs into the end zone for a touchdown for the second consecutive week. He hooked up with Murphy for a 3-yard score.

Bucs third-string QB Shaun King played the entire second half of the game. King completed 9-of-15 passes for 97 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception. He started shaky. His passes were a bit off and he threw an interception on the team's first offensive drive. He pulled off a nice play-action fake, but he lofted the ball up in the air, which gave the Jacksonville defender too much time to come over and snatch the ball out of the air on the pass intended for Jurevicius. On the next series, King and rookie C Zack Quaccia had a bad snap exchange, which resulted in a fumble, which the Jags recovered deep in Tampa Bay's territory. King was inaccurate on slant passes. King threw too high to WR Frank Murphy in the middle of the third quarter, which Murphy tipped into the air and watched a defender intercept the pass. But an offsides penalty negated the interception. On the next play, King took a sack and was stripped of the ball. The Bucs recovered the fumble. King made a nice audible in the fourth quarter when changed a play at the line of scrimmage that allowed King to hit RB Travis Stephens for a big gain. King made a terrific 29-yard touchdown pass to WR Marquise Walker with just over 7:00 remaining in the game. King made a nice pump-fake to the left side of the field, which froze the Jags' safety and allowed Walker to get wide open over the middle of the field. King delivered the ball perfectly for the score.

Tampa Bay's quarterbacks passed for 289 yards on Friday night, but the team was just 4-of-13 on third down plays.

GRADE: B


RUNNING BACKS
Mike Alstott was called for a false start near Tampa Bay's own goal line. It negated Brad Johnson's completion to TE Ken Dilger. The "A-Train" suffered a concussion in the first quarter and didn't return to the game. He didn't carry the ball or catch a pass vs. the Jags.

Bucs fullback Jameel Cook dropped a pass thrown by Rob Johnson in the flat near the end of the second quarter. If he was able to catch the ball, he would have gotten a first down.

Bucs RB Michael Pittman went down with an ankle sprain on Tampa Bay's first offensive series. He had a player roll up on the back of his leg on his first carry of the game. He returned to action a few players later. Pittman had four carries for eight yards.

Bucs rookie RB Travis Stephens had the best night of any of the backs. He rushed six times for 23 yards. He also caught three passes for 25 yards.

Tampa Bay rushed for just 35 yards (1.7 avg.) against Jacksonville on Friday night.

GRADE: C


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson hauled in a 15-yard reception on Tampa Bay's first drive of the game. The catch picked up a first down and kept the Bucs from having to punt near its own goal line. Johnson hauled in a catch for a first down on the second offensive series of the game. His reception put Tampa Bay on Jacksonville's 30-yard line. Johnson looked like he made a nice touchdown catch on the next play, but Jason Craft knocked the ball out of his hands. Johnson left the game after catching two passes for 33 yards.

Bucs WR Keenan McCardell was called for lining up in an illegal formation on the team's second offensive series. But he hauled in big catch for a first down two plays later. The play gained 21 yards. McCardell caught one pass for 21 yards.

Bucs WR Frank Murphy hauled in two passes from Rob Johnson on three-step drop passes on the weakside of the field in the second quarter. Murphy hauled in a touchdown pass from Rob Johnson in the second quarter when he faked the same slant pattern he had caught his first two passes on and ran an out route to the outside of the end zone. The score put Tampa Bay up 10-0. Murphy ran a beautiful route, which is a reflection of new wide receivers coach Richard Mann's coaching job. Murphy hauled in another pass from Johnson with under 1:00 left in the first half. Johnson threw a fade to Murphy on the very next play, but Murphy couldn't turn around for the ball quick enough. Murphy dropped another pass on the next play. The ball was perfectly thrown, but Murphy looked upfield before he secured the ball. Murphy had five catches for 40 yards.

Bucs WR Joe Jurevicius did a good job of coming back to Rob Johnson and hauling in a 7-yard pass on the sideline just before the two-minute warning. Jurevicius did a nice job of keeping both of his feet in bounds on a pass thrown from King at the beginning of the third quarter. The pass was ruled incomplete, but Tampa Bay challenged the play and won. The catch gave the Bucs a first down. Jurevicius did a great job of blocking upfield for RB Travis Stephens on a pitch to the weakside in the third quarter. The play went for a first down. Jurevicius had two catches for 18 yards.

Bucs rookie WR Marquise Walker finally entered the game late in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, King hit Walker, who did a nice job of beating double zone coverage over the middle of the field for a 31-yard touchdown with 7:27 left in the game. The Bucs were up at that point, 20-0.

Bucs second-year WR Milton Wynn dropped a perfect pass from King in the fourth quarter. Wynn did a nice job of getting open, but he couldn't hold onto the ball.

*Tampa Bay's offense gained a total of 183 yards in the first half, and it was clear Gruden put an extra emphasis on the passing game on Friday night.

GRADE: B


TIGHT ENDS:
Bucs TE Marco Battaglia hauled in a pass for a 13-yard gain on the team's first offensive drive. He was wide open on the left sideline. Battaglia got himself wide open and hauled in a pass down the right sideline from Rob Johnson to set Tampa Bay's offense up on Jacksonville's eight-yard line. Battaglia had two catches for 36 yards vs. the Jags.

Tight end Ken Dilger hauled in a nice 25-yard catch down the seam of the field on the first drive. His catch put the offense on Jacksonville's 38-yard line.

While the tight ends were more involved in the passing game this week, they didn't do as good of a job in terms of blocking on the offensive line.

GRADE: B-


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Bucs starting left tackle Roman Oben was called for illegal formation, which negated Keyshawn's Johnson's first down catch in Jacksonville territory.

Bucs starting left guard Kerry Jenkins was flagged for a personal foul in the second quarter for pulling off one of the Jag player's helmet. On the next play, he recovered Rob Johnson's fumble after he was sacked.

Bucs backup left tackle Lomas Brown was flagged for an illegal formation near the end of the second quarter. The Jags declined the penalty because WR Frank Murphy dropped a pass.

Bucs backup center Zack Quaccia had a bad snap exchange with King, which resulted in a fumble and gave Jacksonville the ball deep in Bucs' territory.

Tampa Bay backup right tackle Jerry Wunsch recovered another King fumble near the end of the third quarter.

The offensive line gave up just two sacks this week, but they weren't very effective in terms of blocking for the running backs.

GRADE: C


DEFENSIVE LINE:
Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp didn't play against Jacksonville due to swelling in his knee. Bucs backup DT Chartric Darby started at the under tackle position in place of Sapp. Darby missed David Garrard in the backfield during the third quarter, but he got up off the ground and chased the Jags' quarterback to the sideline and wrapped him up for the sack. Darby's relentless pursuit was impressive. Darby wrapped Garrard up again for a sack in the fourth quarter when the speedy quarterback tried to scramble up the middle of the pocket. Darby recorded five tackles.

Tampa Bay's defensive line didn't get a lot of pressure on QB Mark Brunell. But Bucs right defensive end Simeon Rice recorded a coverage sack on the Jags' second offensive series of the game, which forced Jacksonville to punt. Rice got great penetration on Brunell in the second quarter, but he overpursued Jacksonville's elusive quarterback, which allowed him to throw it away. Rice notched two tackles.

Bucs backup right defensive end Ron Warner came close to sacking QB David Garrard on a number of occasions, but he finally brought him down for a sack on a third-down play near the end of the second quarter, which allowed the Bucs' offense to get the ball back. Warner recorded four tackles.

Tampa Bay's second-and-third-team defenses dominated Jacksonville's offense in both the passing and running game. Tampa Bay's defense Jacksonville to under 100 yards rushing.

GRADE: B


LINEBACKERS:
Bucs strongside linebacker Al Singleton recorded a sack on opening drive after Brunell fumbled exchange from center. Singleton dropped an interception from Brunell a few plays after Kelly dropped one. Singleton recorded one tackle.

Bucs weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks overpursued RB Fred Taylor, which led to an 11-yard gain. He didn't have a good night in terms of tackling. Brooks recorded three tackles.

Backup middle linebacker Nate Webster brought QB David Garrard down for a nine-yard loss in the third quarter. Webster came in free on a blitz and wrapped Garrard up nicely. Webster recorded nine tackles against Jacksonville.

Bucs backup strongside linebacker Ryan Nece made a nice open field tackle during the fourth quarter, which really fired up Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. Nece recorded three tackles.

GRADE: B-


SECONDARY:
Dexter Jackson whiffed on RB Fred Taylor on the second offensive play of the game for the Jags. Taylor gained a first down as a result.

Bucs backup CB Terrell Buckley read Jacksonville second-string QB David Garrard's three-step drop perfectly in the second quarter and stepped in front of the Jags' receiver to intercept his first pass as a Buc. He also returned the interception to Jacksonville's 39-yard line after they had entered Bucs territory for the first time in the game. Buckley's interception led to Frank Murphy's touchdown a few plays later. Buckley also made a nice read on a screen-play toward the end of the second quarter.

Bucs starting CB Brian Kelly had a pass thrown in-between the twp and five on his jersey No. 25 during the second quarter, but the ball fell out of his hands and onto the ground for an incompletion. If Kelly could have held onto the ball, he could have easily raced into the end zone for a touchdown. Kelly recorded one tackle.

Barber recorded two tackles on Jacksonville's first drive. Barber couldn't bring down WR Baker on Jacksonville's second offensive drive, but he made a tackle a few plays later. Barber recorded four tackles.

Tampa Bay's defense held Jacksonville's offense to just 82 yards in the first half. The secondary allowed the Jags to throw for just 142 yards.

Bucs CB Corey Chamblin had a solid outing. He broke up a pass on a third down at the beginning of the third quarter, which forced the Jags to punt.

Tampa Bay rookie safety Jermaine Phillips played well against the run for the second consecutive week. Phillips recorded three tackles.

GRADE: A-


SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tampa Bay blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter when defensive end Greg Spires got a hand on a Jags' field goal attempt. Spires' block kept the egg on the scoreboard for Jacksonville.

Bucs punter Tom Tupa's first punt pinned Jacksonville on its own seven-yard line. Tupa landed another punt on Jacksonville's one-yard line near the end of the second quarter, but rookie CB Tim Wansley knocked the football into the end zone by accident instead of downing it.

Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica drilled a 27-yard field goal after Tampa Bay's second offensive drive stalled on Jacksonville's five-yard line. That score put the Bucs up 3-0 just a few minutes into the second quarter. Gramatica made a 50-yarder with :04 remaining in the first half, which put the Bucs up 13-0 at halftime.

On the ensuing kickoff, K Rob Hart booted the ball out of bounds, which put Jacksonville's offense on Tampa Bay's 40-yard line.

Bucs rookie safety Jermaine Phillips nearly killed PR Aaron Lockett when he ran into him by accident near the end of the second quarter on a punt return. Phillips has not played well as a wing man on special teams, which hasn't allowed Lockett much running room. Lockett didn't help his cause in the third quarter when he fumbled the ball on a punt return. The Bucs did, however, recover.

GRADE: B+


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