Bucs Game Grades

January 12 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated the San Francisco 49ers en route to a 31-6 win on Sunday. The Bucs will play the Eagles next Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. Which players fared well? Which didn't? PewterReport.com has distributed grades to the Bucs players based on their performance against Eagles.

QUARTERBACKS
Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson started slow, but had a strong outing against San Francisco, especially on third downs. The offensive line provided Johnson with plenty of time to throw, which allowed him to pick apart the 49ers' secondary. Johnson threw an interception on Tampa Bay's first offensive series of the game. He was trying to hit wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who stopped in the middle of his slant route, which allowed 49ers cornerback Rashad Holman to jump it and pick the ball off. But from the second series on, Johnson was on fire. Johnson threw a perfect strike to WR Joe Jurevicius for a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Tampa Bay was 3-of-3 on third downs on that drive. Johnson delivered a nice 16-yard pass to tight end Rickey Dudley for a touchdown in the second quarter. That score put the Bucs up 21-6. Tampa Bay was 8-of-10 (80 percent) on third downs in the first half. Johnson completed 13-of-25 passes for 170 yards and he tossed two touchdowns in the first half.

On Tampa Bay's first series of the third quarter, Johnson ran out of the pocket after he tripped on a drop back and dove headfirst into the ground for a 5-yard gain. But on the way down, a 49er defender got his hand in Johnson's facemask. Johnson's forehead was bleeding and he had to be carted off of the field. Backup QB Rob Johnson took his place for one series before Brad Johnson returned on the next. Brad Johnson completed 15-of-31 passes for 196 yards and he threw two touchdown passes against the 49ers.

*Tampa Bay converted 10-of-17 third downs (59 percent) against San Francisco on Sunday.

GRADE: B-


RUNNING BACKS
Although the Bucs were a pass-oriented team on Sunday, fullback Mike Alstott had quite a productive day. Alstott caught a pass in the flat from Brad Johnson and rumbled 17 yards upfield for a first down on Tampa Bay's second offensive series of the game. Alstott caught a pass in the flat to put the Bucs on the 2-yard line. He scored on a running play a play later and received a nice lead block from FB Darian Barnes. That score put the Bucs up 7-0 in the first quarter. Alstott hauled in a 9-yard pass in the second quarter. Alstott got in the end zone again on a 2-yard pitch to the weakside. Alstott carried the ball nine times for 27 yards (3.0 avg.). He caught three passes for 27 yards. The "A-Train's" biggest contributions were his two touchdown runs in the first half. Alstott did a nice job of adjusting late in the third quarter. He didn't have a hole up the middle, so he cut to the weakside and gained 20 yards on the play. Alstott carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards (3.5 avg.) and he scored two touchdowns.

Bucs RB Mike Pittman was not as productive, but had a couple of big plays. He hauled in a 10-yard pass in the second quarter. With 1:00 remaining in the first half, Pittman received a pitch from Johnson and proceeded to the weakside of the field, where he had great blocks. Pittman gained 22 yards on the play and put the offense on the 49ers' 4-yard line. Pittman fumbled the ball late in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 17 carries for 41 yards (2.4 avg.).

Bucs RB Aaron Stecker got into the action in the second quarter when he ran for seven yards.

* Tampa Bay rushed 38 times for 121 yards (3.2 avg.) on Sunday.

GRADE: B-


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Because of the excellent protection Tampa Bay's offense line gave Johnson, the team was able to use three wide receiver sets often. Bucs WR Joe Jurevicius took advantage of being on the field. He hauled in 15-yard pass from Brad Johnson for a first down on third-and-10 on Tampa Bay's first offensive series of the game. Jurevicius came up big again on the team's next series when he hauled in a 14-yard pass from Johnson for a first down on a third-and-9 play. Jurevicius hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone on third-and-10 with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter. That score put the Bucs up 14-3. Jurevicius drew a 32-yard pass interference penalty on a bomb from Johnson with 8:00 remaining in the second quarter. The penalty put the Bucs on the 49ers' 16-yard line. Jurevicius caught three passes for 48 yards and he scored one touchdown against the 49ers.

Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson hauled in a 17-yard pass from Johnson on a third-and-10 play to put the Bucs in the 49ers' red zone. Johnson was called for illegal motion in the second quarter, which negated a 5-yard run by Alstott. On the very next play, Johnson hauled in a pass on a crossing route for a 14-yard gain. Johnson caught a pass on another crossing route for a big gain. Johnson hauled in three passes for 59 yards, including a 28-yarder. Johnson led the team in receptions with five for 85 yards.

GRADE: B+


TIGHT ENDS:
Bucs tight end Rickey Dudley dropped a pass on second-and-10 in the first quarter. He had plenty of room to run, but looked upfield before catching the ball. Dudley hauled in a 12-yard pass from Brad Johnson for a touchdown with 7:24 remaining in the second quarter. The score put the Bucs up 21-6. Dudley did not have a good outing in terms of blocking on the line of scrimmage. Dudley's only catch of the game was on the play for the touchdown.

Bucs tight end Ken Dilger had a nice block on Alstott's 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Dilger hauled in a 8-yard pass in the flat in the second quarter. On the next play, third-and-2, Dilger caught another pass for the first down. Dilger hauled in three passes for 35 yards, including a 21-yarder in the fourth quarter.

GRADE: B


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay's offensive line had an impressive outing on Sunday, which allowed QB Brad Johnson to pick apart San Francisco's secondary.

Bucs center Jeff Christy broke up what could have been an interception on Tampa Bay's first series of the game. The ball was deflected into the air, but Christy dove at it and knocked it out of a San Francisco defender's hands. Tampa Bay right guard Cosey Coleman was called for holding in the second quarter. Bucs left guard Kerry Jenkins had a terrific day in terms of blocking. Jenkins, who did an excellent job of blockign when pulled to the weakside of the fieeld, had to key blocks on both of Alstott's touchdown runs. The Bucs' offensive line did, however, struggled a bit when the 49ers' defense blitzed.

*Tampa Bay dominated the time of possession on Sunday, 36:46 to 23:14, and they only allowed Brad Johnson to get sacked one time.

GRADE: B


DEFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp teamed up with LB Derrick Brooks to record a sack on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia on their first offensive series of the game. The sack forced San Francisco to punt. Sapp helped on offense, too. He reported as an eligible blocker and did a great job of opening up holes on both of Alstott's touchdown runs. Sapp recorded one tackle and half a sack against San Francisco.

Bucs nose tackle Chuck Darby put pressure on Garcia often in the second half. Darby recorded three tackles and was very disruptive in the trenches.

Tampa Bay right defensive end Simeon Rice sacked Garcia with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. He swatted the ball out of Garcia's hands, which allowed LB Derrick Brooks to recover. Rice's huge play halted San Francisco's drive in Tampa Bay territory. Rice was flagged for illegal hands to the face, which negated CB Ronde Barber's 80-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The interception, however, stood.

Bucs defensive tackle Ellis Wyms was flagged for roughing the passer with 6:00 remaining in the game. Wyms recorded three tackles against San Francisco on Sunday.

*Tampa Bay held San Francisco to 62 yards rushing on 13 carries (4.2 avg.).

GRADE: A


LINEBACKERS:
Bucs Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks picked up half a sack on QB Jeff Garcia on San Francisco's first offensive series of the game. Garcia tripped and both Brooks and Sapp fell on him. Brooks hauled in an interception after CB Ronde Barber broke up a pass. The Bucs' offense got the ball on San Francisco's 26-yard line with 2:00 remaining in the second quarter. Brooks also recovered a fumble caused by DE Simeon Rice late in the third quarter. Brooks recorded seven tackles. and half a sack on Sunday. He also had one pass defensed.

Bucs middle linebacker Shelton Quarles played a huge role in stopping the 49ers' running game. Quarles notched nine tackles, which led the team.

Bucs strongside linebacker Al Singleton caused a fumble when he blitzed Garcia in the fourth quarter, but the defense couldn't recover. Singleton had two tackles and was given a sack for the play on Garcia. Singleton also has two passes defensed.

*San Francisco only converted 3-of-12 third downs (25 percent) against Tampa Bay's defense.

GRADE: A


SECONDARY:
Bucs nickel cornerback Dwight Smith fell down after 49ers wide receiver Tai Streets hauled in a pass. It allowed Streets to gain 30 yards and get to Tampa Bay's 4-yard line in the second quarter. But Bucs CB Ronde Barber recovered to knock Streets out of bounds and prevent the touchdown. San Francisco came away with three points on that drive, which made the score 7-3. Smith intercepted Garcia on the first offensive play of the second half after WR Terrell Owens bobbled the ball and had it fly out of his hands and into Smith's. Smith had six tackles, one pass defensed and one interception on Sunday.

Bucs strong safety John Lynch made a nice tackle on a running play in the second quarter, but he was flagged for a personal foul after he kneed RB Garrison Hearst in the head on his way up off the ground. The penalty put San Francisco on Tampa Bay's 22-yard line. The 49ers later got a field goal to make the score 14-6. Lynch recorded three tackles.

Barber drilled Streets on a pass play late in the second quarter, which allowed LB Derrick Brooks to haul in the interception on San Francisco's 26-yard line. Barber intercepted Garcia in the fourth quarter and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown, but the return was negated by a illegal hands to the face penalty called on DE Simeon Rice. The interception still stood.

Bucs CB Brian Kelly notched one tackle and one impressive pass defensed against the 49ers on Sunday.

Bucs free safety Dexter Jackson notched one tackle against the 49ers.

* Tampa Bay's defense only allowed San Francisco QB Jeff Garcia to complete 22-of-41 passes for 193 yards and they intercepted him three times. Barber, Kelly and Smith only allowed 49ers WR Terrell Owens to catch four passes for 35 and he only had 10 yards after the catch.

GRADE: A


SPECIAL TEAMS:
Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica made a 19-yard field goal after the first offensive series of the second half stalled in San Francisco territory. But Gramatica missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 13:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay backup MLB Nate Webster pulled San Francisco kick returner Vinny Sutherland down out of bounds on a long kickoff, which drew a personal foul penalty. Because of the long return and penalty, the 49ers started the drive at Tampa Bay's 46-yard line.

Bucs KR Aaron Stecker muffed a kickoff in the second quarter, but picked up at the 16-yard line and raced up to the 48-yard line.

Bucs cornerback Corey Ivy was flagged for being offsides on a kicker Martin Gramatica kickoff in the second quarter. It forced the Bucs to kickoff again, but Ivy forced Sutherland to fumble the ball, which allowed CB Dwight Smith to recover at the 50-yard line.

Bucs long snapper Ryan Benjamin was flagged for holding with 3:00 remaining in the first half. The 49ers took the penalty and forced punter Tom Tupa to punt again. But Tupa got off a 51-yard punt and pinned San Francisco's offense at its own 2-yard line. Tupa punted four times and averaged 47.3 yards per attempt.

GRADE: B

COACHING:
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden did a nice job of exploiting the 49ers' depleted secondary. Gruden spread San Francisco's defense out by setting up in three and four wide receiver sets, which didn't allow the 49ers to blitz QB Brad Johnson as often as they would have liked. Gruden called plays that allowed Johnson to spread the ball around in the passing game. While it was tempting to attack San Francisco's defense through the air all day long, Gruden was smart enough to not abandon the running game. And of course, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his troops held San Francisco's potent offense without a touchdown.

GRADE: A


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