Brad Johnson kept patting the football while sorting through progressions of the Gulf Coast offense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback knew the Baltimore Ravens' lack of a pass rush and tight coverage would reward his patience with completions and first downs, albeit nothing deep. "> Brad Johnson kept patting the football while sorting through progressions of the Gulf Coast offense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback knew the Baltimore Ravens' lack of a pass rush and tight coverage would reward his patience with completions and first downs, albeit nothing deep. ">

Ravens defense gets nickeled and dimed by Bucs

From his comfortable vantage point, <A HREF="http://scout.theinsiders.com/a.z?s=70&p=8&c=1&nid=293111&yr=2002">Brad Johnson</A> kept patting the football while sorting through progressions of the Gulf Coast offense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback knew the Baltimore Ravens' lack of a pass rush and tight coverage would reward his patience with completions and first downs, albeit nothing deep.

Following the offensive principles of Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden's version of the West Coast attack, Johnson took what the Baltimore defense gave him in a 25-0 victory Sunday afternoon at Ravens Stadium.

"Of course, that's Brad's game," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "They're well-schemed with those dinks and dunks and can do a lot with it."

Despite poor starting points or the aid of many vertical routes, Johnson completed 24 of 31 passes for 211 yards to set up three Martin Gramatica field goals. The Bucs controlled the football for over 35 minutes for 17 first downs despite just 279 yards of total offense.

Efficiency was their trademark.

"Coach Gruden wanted to set a tone," Tampa Bay receiver Keenan McCardell said. "He wanted us to get in an offensive rhythm."

From the Ravens' perspective, their defense can cling to not allowing any touchdowns as a lone bright spot to carry into a bye week. However, that wasn't enough for outside linebacker Peter Boulware to leave the stadium satisfied.

 "If you don't want to win, if you're not discouraged, then something is wrong with you," said Boulware, who had the Ravens' only sack. "We still lost. You can try to break it down and say, ‘We didn't give up a touchdown.' If we don't win, it really doesn't matter."

Baltimore held Tampa Bay to 74 rushing yards, an average per carry of 2.5 yards.

Still, Johnson did some carving of the Ravens' secondary to find seven different targets. His longest completion came on a 24-yard dump pass to running back Michael Pittman.

"It's painful any time you lose," All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We'll give you them dinks and dunks and if you don't get in the end zone, we win. That's the way we always looked at it, and that's our philosophy now."

In the old days, that was enough for the Ravens to manufacture a victory. In the past, though, this team had enough personnel on offense to give the defense some margin for error.

Now, there is virtually none.

 Not when the Baltimore offense musters just 173 yards of offense and immediately surrenders a safety on a botched hand-off in the second half.

Not when special teams coordinator Gary Zaunter's punt team lets Karl Williams slip around coverage lanes for a 56-yard score in the first quarter.

Some Raven defenders said they can take some encouragement from the performance, at how Pittman (6-58) and Mike Alstott (5-25) caught more passes than well-regarded receivers Keyshawn Johnson (3-47) and McCardell (4-38).

Despite starting most drives pinned deep, the Bucs weren't prevented from moving the football. They just didn't capitalize in Ravens territory.

"It's definitely a confidence-booster," said Alvin Porter, who was penalized for defensive holding along with fellow Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter. "We don't expect to hold them to zero yards, but the main objective is to keep them out of the end zone. We can take pride in that."

Porter said he kept challenging Johnson physically with rough treatment at the line of scrimmage to announce his presence to the loquacious Buc.

"I wanted to let him know that I wasn't going anywhere," Porter said. "It's a fight."


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