No matter its incarnation, Monster Park — or 3Com Park — or Candlestick Park — remained the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' house of horrors on Sunday.
Tampa Bay dropped to 1-11 in San Francisco with its loss to the Niners on Sunday.
Tampa Bay entered the game with just one victory in 11 previous tries at the venue, beating the Niners, 24-23, on Oct. 26, 1980, when Monster Park was called Candlestick Park.
Of course, the Bucs have a terrible record on the West coast — which includes Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle — as the Bucs are now 3-26 in those cities since the franchise's inception in 1976.
The good news? The Buccaneers are not scheduled to play the Niners in the schedule rotation until 2010, but that game will be at Raymond James Stadium. Their next scheduled trip to San Francisco is 2013, but they could return to the Bay area sooner if the Bucs and 49ers finish in the same place in their respective divisions in 2009 or 2012.
PLAYOFF PULSE: The NFC playoff picture cleared up significantly after Sunday's afternoon games.
First, Chicago's 35-7 win over Green Bay ensured that Dallas (13-2) would be the No. 1 playoff seed and that the Packers (12-3) would be No. 2.
Seattle defeated Baltimore, and that, coupled with Tampa Bay's loss to San Francisco, allowed the Seahawks (10-5) to claim the No. 3 playoff seed. The Buccaneers (9-6) will be the No. 4 seed and, should they win their Wild Card playoff game, they would travel to Dallas for the divisional round.
The New York Giants (10-5) defeated Buffalo, clinching a playoff berth for the Giants. At the moment, they are the No. 5 seed.
Minnesota's loss to Washington threw the final Wild Card spot into a free-for-all between the Vikings (8-7), Redskins (8-7) and Saints (7-8). It also ensured that the Giants will play the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
1,000-YARD MAN: With his only catch on Sunday, a 29-yarder, Joey Galloway became the first Buccaneer to record three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. This is the sixth 1,000-yard season of Galloway's 13-year career. Galloway has never had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in a row. He had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his first four years, all in Seattle (1995, 1997, 1998).
HILL COMES BACK TO EARTH (KIND OF): Hill entered Sunday's game with a 78.2 completion percentage and a 107.4 passer rating in his last six quarters of football. Against the Bucs' No. 1 scoring defense and No. 3 overall defense, Hill went 11-of-24 for 123 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interceptions.
TURNING IT AROUND: Tampa Bay entered Sunday's game with a plus-14 turnover margin, fourth-best in the NFL. But the Buccaneers also entered the game with 101 points off turnovers, the second-best total in the NFL.
"THE THREE G'S" TAKE A SEAT: Backup QB Luke McCown entered the game for starter Jeff Garcia with 1:33 to play in the second quarter. WR Joey Galloway also left the game midway through the second quarter after it appeared he did something to his left shoulder. RB Earnest Graham also exited the game in the second quarter.
GORE-ING THE BUCS: San Francisco RB Frank Gore rushed for 89 yards on Sunday, giving him his second-straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He became the fifth 49ers to register back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
WHACHA TALKIN' 'BOUT, WILLIS?: Niners LB Patrick Willis, a rookie who will be going to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl in February, finished with 20 tackles and two sacks on Sunday.
INJURIES: For Tampa Bay, WR Maurice Stovall left the game in the second quarter on a cart after suffering an injury while trying to catch a pass. His right elbow and forearm was immobilized. His condition was not updated immediately after the game. DE Greg White was shaken up in the second quarter while trying to tackle Hill. He did not return. CB Brian Kelly left the field for the locker room late in the third quarter for unspecified reasons.
INACTIVES: For Tampa Bay, QB Bruce Gradkowski (3rd QB), RB Kenneth Darby, FB B.J. Askew, LB Patrick Chukwurah, LB Ryan Nece, G Dan Buenning, TE Keith Heinrich and DT Greg Peterson were inactive. For San Francisco, QB Trent Dilfer, WR LeRon McCoy, DB Marcus Hudson, RB Michael Robinson, CB Shawntae Spencer, DT Damane Duckett, DT Atiyyah Ellison and WR Bryan Gilmore were inactive.
Askew and Chukwurah did not make the trip with the Buccaneers.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.