"I don't think the Bucs will get any compensation from Dallas should Bill Parcells become the Cowboys' next head coach. Some news was made tonight when the Bucs admitted that they have a signed document from this past spring effectively hiring Parcells. But they are wrong to think that a signed contract was indeed executed. It was not. First, it was not filed with the league, so the NFL won't recognize it as an executed contract even though it has the Glazers' signature and Parcells. Second, just because you sign a contract does not mean it is executed. Parcells IS NOT the Bucs' coach. Jon Gruden is. The Bucs have no rights to Parcells because he is not employed by them. Therefore, the Cowboys will be in the free and clear to sign him to be their next coach. Don't expect the Bucs to get any compensation from the Cowboys for Bill Parcells."
"The Bucs were intent on beating the Bears regardless of what transpired between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets. But when the Jets drilled Green Bay 42-17 to capture the AFC East title, it gave Tampa Bay an opening to recapture the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture. That was all the motivation the Bucs needed to go into Champaign, Ill. to beat the Bears. The Bucs need to say thanks to former secondary coach Herm Edwards."
"It was nice to see Tampa Bay play well heading into the playoffs. When you look at the last four Bucs games, they had lost at New Orleans, beat Atlanta, barely beat Detroit and lost to Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay got some much-needed momentum. Yes, the Bucs played well despite not scoring a touchdown. Yes, Rob Johnson took a lot of sacks, but played pretty smart, conservative football otherwise. And yes, Michael Pittman had perhaps his strongest outing as a Buccaneer when it comes to running the football with 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, including a 16-yarder to start the game. He also had a nice 21-yard catch on a screen pass and really moved the chains on third down tonight. Pittman gets this week's MVP in a squeaker over Martin Gramatica, Derrick Brooks and Brian Kelly."
"It was also nice to see the Bucs defense play outstanding football, get a shutout and maintain its No. 1 defensive ranking. After going four straight weeks without getting an interception, Tampa Bay's secondary rose to the occasion and produced three out of the Bucs' four interceptions. Brian Kelly had two and Dwight Smith had one."
"With a 12-4 record, this is the greatest regular season Buccaneer team of all-time. But they'll have to win their divisional playoff game and at least advance to the NFC Championship Game before they can be called the best Bucs team of all-time. If this team lays an egg at home in their playoff game, it will be the greatest underachieving Bucs team of all-time. Without Brad Johnson at quarterback, that might happen."
LEO HAGGERTY – Pewter Report Managing Editor:
"The Bucs, finally, played a smart football game against the Bears. The put the game in the hands of their defense and the number one unit in the NFL did not disappoint anyone. The Pewter Pirates defenders shut the Bears down and the Tampa Bay offense, relegated to a caretaker role, did just enough to produce 15 points on Martin Gramatica's five field goals. Football is not like gymnastics. You don't get style point. It's who is ahead when the clock runs out. It's scoreboard and that's the only statistic that matters. Just win."
"The fans, for possibly the first time this season, saw what head coach Jon Gruden saw when he signed running back Michael Pittman. The former Fresno State University star show some patience when running the football and definitely did a superb job of setting up his caravan of blockers on the screen pass he caught in the second half. With weather being a factor in January it was nice to see Pittman along with Mike Alstott eclipse the hundred yard rushing plateau in Chicago."
"Could someone explain to me how cornerback Brian Kelly isn't on the NFC Pro Bowl team? I can see how people who have little knowledge of professional football would keep cornerback Ronde Barber off their list because he doesn't have grat measurable statistics with the biggest being interceptions. All Kelly has done is put up eight thefts to lead the league. Yes, I realize that two of the picks were put up after the Pro Bowl team was announced but isn't that more reason to wait until the regular season has reached a conclusion before you vote. There is no way to right this travesty so Kelly will have to wait until the 2003 season when he will appear on the radar screen before the season starts as the leading interceptor in the league. There is no justice."
JIM FLYNN – Pewter Report Assistant Editor:
"Rob Johnson is probably the most frustrating quarterback I've ever watched, but he did enough Sunday night to help the Buccaneers defeat the Bears, 15-0. While Johnson was sacked five times and still needs to get rid of the ball much quicker, he did a nice job of not making the big mistake by not turning the ball over. Johnson completed 16-of-25 passes for 134 yards and his mobility helped move the chains. He rushed three times for 29 yards. But Johnson failed to get the Bucs' offense into the end zone again. In Johnson's two starts this season, Tampa Bay's offense has produced nine field goals."
"The Bucs needed the first-round bye week in the playoffs. Their confidence was shaken after the loss to the Steelers and although this game wasn't pretty from an offensive standpoint, it won't matter two weeks from now when Tampa Bay hosts a divisional playoff game. No one needed the bye week more than quarterback Brad Johnson. While the team isn't sure if Brad Johnson will be ready to return to action in two weeks, he probably wouldn't have been ready by next weekend, which could have led to a first-round cameo appearance and exit by the Pewter Pirates in the playoffs. If the Bucs are going to make a serious run at the Super Bowl, they need Brad Johnson back."
"How fitting was it for the Tampa Bay's No. 1 ranked defense to end the regular season with a shutout? The Bucs' defense played an outstanding game and big-time players made big-time plays, which helped the team record its 12th win of the season, which set a franchise record for most wins in the regular season. Bucs cornerback Brian Kelly, who some thought was snubbed by Pro Bowl voters a few weeks ago, recorded two key interceptions and will finish the regular season as the league-leader in interceptions with eight. And what can you say about linebacker Derrick Brooks? He recorded six tackles and came up with a huge interception at the end of the second half, which took away at least three points for the Bears and eventually produced three points for the Bucs. Brooks is the NFL Defensive MVP this season, hands down. Tampa Bay created four turnovers and three of those led to field goals."
"Bucs fans waited all season for running back Michael Pittman to have a breakout game and he finally had one against the Bears. Pittman actually ran with control, patience and power on Sunday night, which helped him gain 90 yards on 21 carries (4.3 avg.). Pittman also contributed to the passing game, where he caught two passes for 28 yards. Tampa Bay's ground game produced a total of 161 yards on Sunday night. Don't look now, but the Bucs' offense has a running game just in time for the playoffs."
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