Galloway leads charge in Bucs victory

Joey Galloway continued his mastery of the New Orleans Saints in Tampa Bay's 31-14 victory on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

TAMPA — Oh, the New Orleans Saints are going to have nightmares about Joey Galloway tonight.

Against the Saints, Galloway seems to have a window to their secondary's soul, and Sunday was no different. Galloway's 135-yard, two-touchdown day led the Buccaneers to a 31-14 drubbing of the defending NFC South champions.

Galloway was only a part of one of Tampa Bay's most complete performances in recent memory.

But his was certainly the most memorable.

"It's nice to see Joey and Jeff (Garcia) get off to such a good friendship," Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said with a smile.

Galloway caught touchdown passes of 69 and 24 yards, both in the first half, and his seventh and eighth touchdown catches against New Orleans in his last six meetings with the Saints (0-2).

Galloway has 23 catches, 473 yards and nine touchdowns (one on a punt return) since Dec. 19, 2004.

"It's really not me," Galloway said. "They (the Saints) gave us some opportunities and Jeff made the plays today."

And big plays throughout the game set up the Buccaneers (1-1) offense all afternoon.

Galloway's first touchdown catch, which gave the Bucs a 14-0 lead with 13:09 left in the second quarter, was a simple slant pattern, but fellow receiver Michael Clayton laid out Saints safety Kevin Kaesviharn at midfield to spring Galloway for the touchdown.

"It was like the old Forty Niners offense with Jerry Rice and John Taylor catching a slant and going all the way," Garcia, who went 10-of-16 for 243 yards and two touchdowns said. "That's what Joey can do for you."

Another receiver, Ike Hilliard, set up Galloway's second scoring grab late in the second quarter to give the Bucs a 21-0 halftime lead. In the shotgun, Garcia saw Hilliard in the slot and a linebacker in coverage. Hilliard ran right past the backer and into the open field, running under Garcia's pass for a 41-yard gain.

The next play, Galloway scored.

"We hold them (Tampa Bay) in check, then give up a big pass play," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "Too many today."

The big plays didn't come only on offense, either. The Bucs defense set the tone early, though it took a while to sort out how it happened.

On New Orleans' second drive, running back Reggie Bush appeared to have a first down, but replays showed that linebacker Barrett Ruud knocked the ball loose before Bush reached the ground. Officials called the play dead, and the Bucs challenged.

Thanks to a busted replay machine, it took referee Gerry Austin five minutes to realize Ruud had forced and recovered a fumble and reverse the play in Tampa Bay's favor with 10:38 left in the first quarter.

"When you were sitting on the field, you knew the ball came out," Barber said. "We all knew. I think we had a feeling that it might come out in our favor, but it was a big momentum swing. He (Bush) fumbled the ball on his first carry too, but it bounced back up to him."

The turnover set up Tampa Bay's first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Cadillac Williams. On the drive Garcia kept the drive alive twice with a desperate shovel pass to fullback B.J. Askew and a gritty 7-yard run on 3rd-and-6 at the Saints 8, leading with his head to get the yard needed to move the chains.

Two plays later Tampa Bay scored, and the offense scored two red zone touchdowns a week after failing to do so twice against Seattle.

"When we got into the red zone this week, we didn't struggle," Garcia said.

The Saints offense never broke free of the doldrums that marked their 41-10 loss to Indianapolis. The Bucs' front four harassed quarterback Drew Brees all afternoon, as he managed only two late scoring drives against a Bucs defense playing soft. The Saints only went three-and-out three times, but other drives sputtered due to penalties and turnovers.

The other key mistake came on the Saints' first drive of the third quarter, as linebacker Cato June picked off Brees with 7:05 left.

The pick led to Williams' second touchdown run, a 28-0 lead and, eventually, the Bucs' first victory of 2007.

"It was one of those things where we felt that we could take advantage of certain opportunities," Garcia said. "We were fortunate to do that today, (and) things aren't going to come like that all the time. When the opportunity strikes you have to be ready for it."


Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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