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Playoffs, Buccaneer offense not friendly

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 13, 2002


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PHILADELPHIA -- How woeful was the Bucs offense Sunday? Well, it was almost enough to make a fan wistfully recall the salad days of the John Davis era.

You may remember Davis, a tight end now playing for the Rams who will, at least for another year, hold a special Tampa Bay distinction: The last Buc to score a playoff touchdown.

Has it been that long since his catch to beat Washington? You bet. The Bucs' streak of ineptitude when it comes to getting points from someone not named Martin Gramatica reached 12 quarters, 767 days, three offensive coordinators, two quarterbacks and three painful playoff losses as the Eagles held them without a touchdown at Veteran Stadium.

Nine postseason points. Three last season. Six the season before.

Congratulations, Gramatica, on becoming the Bucs' all-time leader in playoff scoring with 20.

"I thought when we were in the red zone we just had to score," rookie offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker said. "This was one of those games that swings on momentum and that's something that's been haunting us all year. Three points ... three points ... we can't do that."

But they did. Over and over the Bucs squandered opportunities to take charge. Dexter Jackson got an interception on the fourth play, and the Bucs put together a 21-yard drive ... in seven plays ... and settled for three.

Nothing new. But there were some perplexing wrinkles. There was the third and 1 on the last play of the first quarter near midfield when the Bucs pitched out to Warrick Dunn out of the power formation for minus-5 yeads.

That was nothing compared with the Bucs' next third down. From the Eagle 11, Keyshawn Johnson, 106 catches and big-play ability, watched from the sideline as Brad Johnson threw a screen pass to Dunn for minus-4 yards.

"I don't know (why I wasn't in the game)," Keyshawn Johnson said. "They had a play they wanted somebody else to run. Go ahead, put them in and run the play.

"I don't call the plays. When it comes to me, I just try and deliver."

He did later in the half, making a leaping catch and running for a 47-yard gain to the Eagle 12 with 11 seconds left. But on the next play, with a chance to get within 17-13 with a touchdown, Brad Johnson dumped the ball to Mike Alstott for 3 yards, leading to another field goal.

"We had two guys in the end zone and they were covered," Johnson said.

When Johnson did try to throw deep, he was intercepted, as on the second play of the second half and again on a third-quarter drive when Troy Vincent leaped over Jacquez Green in the end zone.

Compounded by a running game that had scattered success and just 63 yards, the Bucs had no chance. Brad Johnson had a 36.8 quarterback rating with four interceptions, and again either seemed to rely on the checkoff or did so as instructed by offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen.

"A few times they blitzed us in the red zone and that forced us to go underneath," said Dunn, who had eight catches for 37 yards, a 4.6 average. "Hopefully you can break some tackles. You can't always blame the offensive coordinator. You take what the defense gives you and that's what they gave us."

It wasn't much.

Again.

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