Bucs News And Notes: Wednesday

December 11 – Why were Tampa Bay wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson, Joe Jurevicius and Keenan McCardell fined $5,000 each by the NFL this week? What do the 10-3 Bucs have riding on its game against the 3-10 Lions? Who is the most dangerous player in Detroit's offense? PewterReport.com has compiled a notebook with the answers to these questions and more in this installment of Bucs News and Notes.

Tampa Bay wide receivers Joe Jurevicius and Keenan McCardell each hauled in two touchdown passes from Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson against Atlanta last Sunday, which gave both players plenty or reason to celebrate. But on Wednesday, PewterReport.com learned that Jurevicius, McCardell and WR Keyshawn Johnson were fined $5,000 each by the National Football League for what the league called "excessive" celebrating.

As Pewter Report reported earlier this week, some Bucs players, including Jurevicius, McCardell and Johnson, had displayed some unique post-play celebrations during its 34-10 win against the Falcons. But the NFL did not find Jurevicius' "Chicken Dance" and McCardell and Johnson's "Pass the Magic" routine humorous, which is why all three players were fined.

Tampa Bay's defense is ranked No. 4 against the run, but they'll face a tough runner in Detroit running back James Stewart on Sunday.

Stewart has been one of the few bright spots on the Lions' offense. He has rushed for 962 yards and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this season. Stewart also leads the Lions' offense in receptions with 42 for 311 yards.

The Buccaneers' main priority Sunday will be stopping Stewart and if they can succeed in doing that, they'll stand an excellent chance of recording their 11th win of the season.

"That's always the first thing in this league, stop the running game," said Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp. "I mean Rock Riley could turn around and hand the ball to James Stewart, it's really not that difficult. It's one of those things where you have to stay in your gaps and be fundamentally sound in your run gaps. And when we get that under control, we turn the dogs loose and go hunting."

Although the 10-3 Buccaneers are playing the 3-10 Lions this Sunday in a game that doesn't have anything riding on it for Detroit, Tampa Bay, who is in a tight NFC playoff race, has enough motivation to win this Sunday's contest.

Did you know…

…Tampa Bay can clinch its fourth straight playoff berth Sunday with a win or tie against Detroit or a New York Giants loss or tie?

…The Buccaneers, who are off to a franchise best 10-3 start, can tie the club record for victories in a season (11 victories in 1999) by defeating the Lions?

…The Bucs, who have a 4-2 record on the road this season, can tie the franchise record for road wins in a season (5 road wins in 1979, 1997) by downing the Lions in Ford Field?

Will the Buccaneers overlook the woeful Lions this Sunday? While the team is in an extremely tight playoff race, if you ask the players, they'll let you know how much is at stake this Sunday, even if it is a contest against a team out of playoff contention.

"Coach said it's crunch time and it is crunch time," said Jurevicius. "We know what we have in front of us, but like I said it's important we take it one step at a time. There are some things that can be positive for us if we win out, but we have to approach it in such a fashion. But right now everything is focused on Detroit and everything else will take care of itself."

While it's tempting to look ahead to the end of the season and take a look at different scenarios in terms of the NFC playoff race, the Bucs said they will continue to just take one game at a time.

"We are not talking about three games, we are talking about one," said Sapp. "We can't play them all at the same time. We can't even play a doubleheader. We are talking about one at a time. We need to go to Detroit and handle our business and that's been our mind frame and focus all year; one at a time."

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on quarterback Brad Johnson being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday:

"I was kind of disappointed he wasn't player of the month, honestly. How do you play better than that? Jiminy Christmas, what do you want the guy to do? The guy's thrown 15 touchdown passes in five games – what do you want him to do, throw 19?"

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