SERIES: 20th meeting. Bucs lead 11-8.
Keyshawn Johnson caught a long touchdown pass to break it open. The Bucs knocked QB Mike Vick out of the game, and returned an interception for a score after that.
2003 RANKINGS: Bucs: offense 5th (26th rush, 1st pass); defense 3rd (25th rush, 1st pass). Falcons: offense 20th (16th rush, 18th pass); defense 32nd (24th rush, 29th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: After committing 17 penalties last
Sunday, the Bucs need to play a cleaner game if they want to get more balance in
their offense. Coach Jon Gruden is forced to call more passing plays when
penalties cause long second and third down situations.
Bay needs positive yards on early
downs for their quick timing patterns to be effective. The Bucs' defense again
struggled with a power running back in
FAST FACTS: Bucs:
--QB Brad Johnson practiced Thursday on a limited basis Thursday and is expected to play despite a strained right groin.
--CB Ronde Barber returned to practice Thursday and is probable with a right hamstring strain.
--C John Wade could move to LG on
the field goal team, replacing Cosey Coleman, who allowed penetration during a
blocked extra point that cost
--WR Keyshawn Johnson, who caught nine passes for 109 yards against the Panthers, is becoming more involved in Jon Gruden's offense this season.
--DT Warren Sapp will continue to be used as a tight end on offense, mostly in short yardage situations.
--RB Michael Pittman is the only Bucs rusher averaging more than 4 yards per carry.
--S Kevin McCadam, the second-year
pro who got his first start at FS last week against the Redskins, was downgraded
to doubtful for the Falcons' game against
--CB Tod McBride remains probable
on the Falcons' injury report, but his chances of playing Sunday against
--RB T.J. Duckett, who strained his right quadriceps muscle in practice Wednesday, was back at practice Thursday. He's listed as probable for the Falcons' game Sunday against the Bucs.
--FS Keion Carpenter, who missed the Falcons' last game with a strained left hamstring, practiced against Thursday and is expected to start Sunday against the Bucs.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
The Bucs devoted a larger than normal portion of their practice Wednesday and Thursday toward correcting the collapse of protection for place-kicker Martin Gramatica.
But this may astonish: No major changes in personnel or blocking schemes are anticipated for Sunday's pivotal game against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
The only possible twist was that center John Wade moved from right to left guard Wednesday on some place-kicks, the spot where Cosey Coleman was overpowered by Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins on the blocked PAT.
"There's not a lot of personnel you
can change honestly," said Bucs coach Jon Gruden. "You don't have a lot of
options once you start the season. "We're going to work on the physical-ness of
our protection on our field goals and our PATs. We left seven points out on the
field the other day that obviously were pivotal to the outcome." Coleman, who
will start again at left guard for the Bucs in Sunday's game at
"There's no excuse," said Coleman. "That's very atypical of me as a player to let something like that happen. Like I said, I've been on the unit for three years and that's never happened with me before. For this to happen in that crucial of a situation, having that be the game-winning kick after we fought so hard to get back into the game, it's just a sick,
Falcons defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is pleased to have his starting safeties both available for the first time this season, but hell be looking for more than that Sunday when the Buccaneers visit the Georgia Dome.
Specifically, he wants all of his defensive backs to play smarter.
After the Falcons took a 17-0 lead last Sunday against Washington, the Redskins picked apart Atlanta, as second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsey threw for a career-high 356 yards.
Part of the credit goes to
Buchanan, in particular, was guilty of this. "I think getting both our safeties playing will help us. Certainly, Keion will help us," Phillips said. "I just think overall when we got ahead, we
didn't play smart. When you're up 17 points, even if you're playing man-to-man, you play off. I think overall that's what we've worked on. When you're ahead by so many, or behind so many, things have to change."