Bucs Account for NFC's TDs In 45-20 Loss To AFC

February 2 – The AFC downed the NFC in Sunday's Pro Bowl contest, 45-20. While all did not go well for the NFC in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tampa Bay's six Pro Bowl players fared quite well. Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson and fullback Mike Alstott accounted for the NFC's only two touchdowns of the game.

Tampa Bay went out on top of the league a week ago today when the team won Super Bowl XXXVII, but the Buccaneers' six Pro Bowl players concluded the 2002 season on a sour note Sunday when the NFC lost to the AFC during the NFL's All-Star Game in Honolulu, Hawaii, 45-20.

Tampa Bay actually had seven players voted to the Pro Bowl, but defensive tackle Warren Sapp skipped the all-star game in order to have minor knee surgery.

Bucs fullback Mike Alstott, weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks, strong safety John Lynch and right defensive end Simeon Rice started the game for the NFC.

Although the NFC team did not fare particularly well, most of the Bucs players made positive contributions in the losing effort.

Tampa Bay middle linebacker Shelton Quarles, who was added to the Pro Bowl roster on Thursday after Atlanta MLB Keith Brooking bowed out with a strained hamstring, was a backup behind Chicago MLB Brian Urlacher.

Brad Johnson served as the NFC's third-string quarterback behind San Francisco QB Jeff Garcia and Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb. Johnson didn't see action until the fourth quarter.

Johnson and Alstott accounted for the NFC's only two touchdowns, which both came late in the fourth quarter.

Johnson's outing didn't start the way he would have liked. One of his first passes of the game was picked off by New England cornerback Ty Law, who returned Johnson's pass 46 yards for an AFC touchdown.

But Johnson came back strong midway through the fourth quarter when he tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn for the NFC's first trip into the end zone. Johnson's TD pass capped off a six-play, 60-yard drive.

Johnson led the NFC into the end zone again a few minutes later when he pitched a shovel pass to Alstott for a 4-yard score. That pass capped off a 14-play, 60-yard drive.

Johnson completed 13-of-18 passes for 119 yards and he threw two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Alstott didn't carry the ball once on Sunday, but he did haul in three passes for 17 yards and he scored one touchdown.

Even members of Tampa Bay's top-rated defense couldn't help hold off the AFC's potent offensive attack. Of course, the NFC's six interceptions didn't help either.

In addition to his four tackles, Lynch intercepted a pass and he forced a fumble and recovered it on Sunday. Lynch also had one pass defensed.

Although he was a late addition, Quarles led all Bucs Pro Bowl defenders with five tackles.

Brooks recorded two tackles for the NFC on Sunday.

Rice, who was fined $4,000 for skipping out on Friday's practice in Aloha Stadium due to what he claimed was an illness, started for the NFC. But Rice failed to make much of a contribution. Rice didn't record a tackle on Sunday. Rice came into Sunday's game with a shoulder strain and reaggravated the injury in the first half.

The victorious AFC team walked away from Sunday's game $30,000 richer while the NFC team came away from the game with $15,000 apiece.

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