Bucs Game Grades

November 3 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a shootout at Raymond James Stadium Sunday, 38-24. Which players fared well. Which players didn't? PewterReport.com has distributed grades to the Pewter Pirates based on their performance against the Vikings on Sunday.

QUARTERBACKS
As expected, Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson, who had suffered a broken rib against Philadelphia a few weeks ago, started the game against Minnesota. He was extremely accurate, completing 6-of-6 pass attempts out of the gate. Johnson, who picked apart Minnesota's defense, threw three touchdown passes in the first half. Johnson did a nice job of delivering the ball to his receivers when he was under pressure. Johnson delivered his fourth touchdown pass of the game to WR Keyshawn Johnson in the third quarter. He threw his fifth touchdown pass of the game to Mike Alstott in the fourth quarter. Johnson arguably had his best game as a Buccaneer, completing 24-of-31 passes for 313 yards and he threw five touchdown passes.

*Tampa Bay scored on its first four possessions of the game against Minnesota.

GRADE: A+


RUNNING BACKS

Bucs running back Aaron Stecker didn't get his first carry until halfway through the second quarter, but he took it 59 yards upfield to Minnesota's 13-yard line. Stecker also had a big gain on a screen pass in the third quarter. Stecker finished the game with just one rush for 59 yards and he caught one pass for 12 yards.

Bucs FB Mike Alstott started at tailback for the Bucs and Jameel Cook started at fullback. He opened the second half with a 13-yard run. Alstott hauled in a 5-yard pass in the flat from Johnson in the fourth quarter, which he took into the end zone for a touchdown. Alstott carried the load for Tampa Bay's offense late in the fourth quarter, which helped the Bucs kill the clock. Alstott carried the ball 26 times for 55 yards (2.1 avg.). He struggled to gain yards in the running game due to Minnesota's determination to not let Tampa Bay beat them on the ground. Alstott also caught three passes for 16 yards.

Tampa Bay RB Michael Pittman rushed just just three times for 19 yards (6.2 avg.) Sunday. He caught one pass for an 18-yard gain.

*Tampa Bay rushed for 133 yards on 30 carries (4.4 avg.) Sunday.

GRADE: B-


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson had a breakout game against the VIkings. Johnson hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter. Johnson and Johnson hooked up again for a touchdown with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter when Johnson hauled in a 19-yard pass in the end zone. Tampa Bay took advantage of Minnesota's secondary by running a lot of crossing routes. Johnson caught nine passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Bucs WR Karl Williams came up big for the Bucs' offense in place of Keenan McCardell. He hauled in a 15-yard pass for a touchdown on Tampa Bay's opening drive. He was pinned in-between two Minnesota defenders, but still managed to hold on and put the Bucs up 6-0. Williams also caught a key 12-yard pass from Johnson on a slant to put the Bucs on Minnesota's 8-yard line on Tampa Bay's second drive of the game. Williams hauled in four passes for 49 yards, all of which came in the first half.

Tampa Bay WR Reggie Barlow, who played in place of Joe Jurevicius, threw a nice block on Stecker's 59-yard line. Barlow hauled in one pass for 13 yards against the Vikings.

GRADE: A


TIGHT ENDS:
Both Tampa Bay tight ends Ken Dilger and Rickey Dudley were able to contribute to the passing game due to the offensive line's ability to protect Brad Johnson Sunday. Dilger hauled in a 18-yard pass near the sideline from Johnson in the first quarter. It was a nice pass, but an even better job by Dilger of catching the ball and keeping his feet in bounds. Dilger caught a pass across the middle of the field for a 40-yard gain later in the game. Dilger hauled in three passes for 61 yards against Minnesota.

Bucs TE Rickey Dudley hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Johnson in the first quarter to put the Bucs up 13-0. Dudley caught two passes for 11 yards.

GRADE: B+


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay's offensive line resembled one for the first time in a while on Sunday. They provided Brad Johnson with time to throw the ball. They weren't able to open up too many holes in the running game, but that was due to the Vikings' determination to stop the run, which allowed the Bucs to pick apart their secondary. Still, the Bucs rushed for 130 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry Sunday, but most of that yardage came on Stecker's explosive run. The Bucs didn't allow one sack against the Vikings. Bucs backup left guard Todd Washington filled in well in place of Kerry Jenkins. Tampa Bay left tackle Roman Oben was called for holding in the third quarter. Bucs right guard Cosey Coleman was called for a false start late in the fourth quarter.

GRADE: B


DEFENSIVE LINE:
Bucs defensive end Greg Spires nearly sacked QB Daunte Culpepper in the second quarter, but Minnesota's quarterback managed to shake Spires off of him. Spires recorded two tackles on Sunday.

Bucs DT Warren Sapp caused Culpepper to fumble with under 1:00 remaining in the first half, but Minnesota's quarterback managed pick the ball up and launch it downfield for an incompletion. Sapp would have recorded the sack, but he was held, which was called by the officials. Sapp came up big when he intercepted Culpepper in the third quarter. Sapp recorded three tackles Sunday.

Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice forced Culpepper to fumble in the third quarter, but Tampa Bay couldn't recover it. Rice pressured Culpepper again in the third quarter, which forced him to throw an interception to Sapp. Sapp then lateraled the ball to FS Dexter Jackson. The Bucs' offense started the drive at midfield thanks to the turnover. Rice sacked Culpepper late in the fourth quarter near Tampa Bay's goal line. Rice was very disruptive and recorded two sacks on Sunday.

Bucs defensive tackle Chartric Darby, who was playing in place of Anthony McFarland, nearly recorded a sack in the third quarter. Darby recorded two tackles. While Darby fared well, the Bucs clearly missed Anthony McFarland in run defense.

Tampa Bay's defensive tackling was not the greatest Sunday. Missed tackles led to big plays by the Vikings' offense.

*The Bucs sacked Culpepper three times, but Tampa Bay's defensive line allowed RB Michael Bennett to run through it untouched and 85-yards downfield for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was very uncharacteristic of the Bucs' defense to allow such a big play.

GRADE: B


LINEBACKERS:
Bucs weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks led the team in tackles with eight.Tampa Bay strongside linebacker Al Singleton intercepted Culpepper in the fourth quarter. Bucs middle linebacker Shelton Quarles recorded seven tackles Sunday. Bucs backup MLB Nate Webster struggled against the run when he came in for Quarles. He recorded one tackle.

Tampa Bay's defense allowed Minnesota to rush for 173 yards on 23 carries (7.5 avg.). Vikings RB Michael Bennett rushed for 114 yards and averaged 11.4 yards per carry and Moe Williams rushed for two touchdowns and 43 yards on seven carries.

GRADE: B-


SECONDARY:
Bucs CB Ronde Barber blitzed and pressured QB Daunte Culpepper, but he couldn't wrap him up and Culpepper rushed for a first down in the first quarter. Barber nearly had an interception in the first half, but couldn't quite hold on to the ball. Barber also hesitated a bit too long on RB Michael Bennett's 85-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Barber blitzed and recorded a sack with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter. Barber tied Brooks for tackles recorded with eight and recorded one sack.

Bucs free safety Dexter Jackson had Culpepper's pass go off of his fingers and into WR Randy Moss' hands in the first quarter for a touchdown, but a holding penalty negated it. Jackson came up big late in the fourth quarter when he sacked Culpepper in Tampa Bay's red zone. Jackson recorded six tackles.

Bucs CB Brian Kelly was called for pass interference on Randy Moss in the end zone on what was a terrific goal line stand late in the fourth quarter. The call on Kelly was horrible. He had good coverage and never interfered with Moss. If Kelly was not called for the penalty, Minnesota would have faced a fourth down and long. Kelly recorded three tackles.

Tampa Bay's secondary allowed Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper to complete 19-of-30 passes for 231 yards and the Bucs' defense intercepted him twice. The Bucs only allowed WR Randy Moss to catch four passes for 41 yards.

GRADE: B


SPECIAL TEAMS:
Bucs LB Jack Golden caused a fumble on opening kickoff. Safety Jermaine Phillips recovered the fumble at Minnesota's 21-yard line. The Buccaneers scored a touchdown three plays later.

Bucs RB Aaron Stecker was called for a personal foul on a kickoff in the third quarter.

Tampa Bay kicker Martin Gramatica drilled a 36-yard field goal field goal with 12:16 remaining in the second quarter, which put the Bucs up 17-0. He missed a 41-yard attempt with 2:02 remaining in the first half.

Bucs punter Tom Tupa didn't punt until the third quarter. His only punt of the game went for 24-yards.

Tampa Bay allowed Minnesota to kick and recover an onside kick in the third quarter. But Bucs TE Ken Dilger recovered Minnesota's onside kick with under 5:00 remaining in the game.

GRADE: B-


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