By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002
Veteran punter Tupa gains field position
Coach Jon Gruden calls it the area of hidden yardage, and so far veteran punter Tom Tupa is doing his best to help the cause. Tupa had two 50-yard punts in the fourth quarter Monday, the second pinning the Rams on their 6-yard line with 2:34 left. Derrick Brooks' game-sealing interception came six plays later.
"It was a great punt. It was inside two minutes and luckily it worked out for us," said Tupa, who is tied for first in the NFC with a 46.2-yard average. "Obviously, coaches know (it was an important punt). These days it's a game of field position, and it's become more and more so since I've been in the league."
Going with strengths
Derrick Brooks is likely to be in the starting lineup today despite his sore hamstring. But if Brooks can't go or is limited, strongside linebacker Shelton Quarles likely would move into Brooks' spot and backup Nate Webster would come off the bench to play in Quarles' position. Strongside linebacker Al Singleton will remain in place.
"You always want to be in a situation where you have your best guys on the field and the next best three are Nate, Shelton and Al," linebacker coach Joe Barry said. "Keep the best three guys on the field. It makes total sense."
No hats off to Smith
Quarterback Akili Smith is making his season debut today and is expected to inject some life into Cincinnati's anemic offense with his ability to move out of the pocket. Despite the lack of film on Smith, who has played 21 games in four seasons, the Bucs defensive line isn't concerned.
"How much faster could he be than Donovan McNabb?" tackle Warren Sapp said. "Kordell Stewart? (Steve) Air McNair? He doesn't even have the experience of those guys. It's not where we're going to pin our hats on Akili Smith. We're going to pin our hats on (running back) Corey Dillon. We put 11 hats on him, which (increases) our chance of winning this game tremendously."
WHEN LAST THEY MET
In a 16-13 overtime win on the road last year, safety John Lynch stripped Bengals running back Corey Dillon at the 3 and recovered to set up Martin Gramatica's winning 21-yard field goal. The Bucs squandered a 13-3 lead in the fourth quarter.
GIMME THE $*!# BALL, II
Receiver Peter Warrick, the Bengals' first-round draft pick in 2000, hasn't had the impact many expected. He has nine receptions for 72 yards and no touchdowns this season. "We had 83 plays and I got the ball twice. I want to contribute, but I can't help (the team) if I'm getting the ball just once," he said last weekend. " ... I don't care what nobody says, I deserve the ball more than one time."
BY THE NUMBERS
2: team-high touchdowns by Bucs LB Derrick Brooks.
20: point deficit for the Bengals in every game this season.
47: consecutive games the Bucs have at least one sack.
69.7: rushing yards per game for the Bucs.
THE LAST WORD
"Every game counts. It's a big game regardless of where you're playing and who you're playing against. Your record is at stake, your season is at stake every game you play."
-- Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson on looking past the winless Bengals.
Back to the Bucs
BucsGruden gives Bucs attitude adjustment
No new facility no surprise
High profile -- Al Singleton
Chucky's Chalk Talk
You can't take country out of Dilger
Commercials make game secondary
RaysRays rally behind McRae
Winn moves atop the Rays' hit list
Worst in baseball? Maybe not
LightningHodson looks better in win
Last season's backups now think they have all it takes
Ryder Cup golf
All square after a late American rally
Captains gambling on the lineups
Azinger tries to keep chin up on the bench
Gators pull escape job
Bounced, big time
MSU receiver sets NCAA mark
Zook on special teams: 'I'll get it corrected'
All-purpose Gator delivers
Florida: By the numbers
OU tricked but mistake wipes out TD
South Florida: By the numbers
Bulls defense makes improvement
Around the state
Big East: Hokies run to victory
C-USA: Longhorns hold Tulane scoreless
SEC: Gary's return keeps Georgia on a roll 41-10
Pac-10: Washington State rallies behind QB in second half
Big Ten: Hawkeyes withstand comeback, win in OT
Big 12: Iowa State takes charge
ACC: Unfocused Wolfpack defeats I-AA UMass
Around the nation
Holmes wins over Patriots
NFL Game Day: Week 4
Theodore stops 25 in 4-1 victory
Jeff Burton beats Kerry Earnhardt
Time ticks away for Gordon's title hunt
NL: D'backs roll to another West title
AL: Wells keeps Yanks on track for homefield
Bonds in, wants more
Raines bows out, says he means it
Summing up the 2002 season
Highs and lows
Masterson, Mustangs win Red Mule
King, Durant teams sidestep holes, foes
PHU teams dominate, defend titles
Daily fishing report
Pros and cons of Woods, Ryder Cup