By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 6, 2002
Defense begins to jell during winning streak
No doubt the offense has made some steady strides since the opener, but consider the defensive stats through its three-game winning streak: the Bucs defense has seven turnovers, 11 sacks, three touchdowns and a safety. Tampa Bay also has limited the three opponents to seven points a game and an average of 233 yards of offense.
"We're jelling pretty well," linebacker Shelton Quarles said. "The linebackers are playing pretty good. Our front four has been awesome. They are rushing the passers and not giving them very much time to get the balls off. When we can do that and sit back in Cover 2 zones and just tee off, we're at our best."
-- In the offseason, Falcons second-year quarterback Michael Vick spent time with former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who shared some of the secrets of being a mobile, left-handed quarterback. Young's advice appears to have had an effect. Vick enters today's game with a streak of 105 attempts without an interception. Through seven games at the Georgia Dome, Vick has not thrown an interception, a streak of 113 passes.
-- James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, will perform at the Georgia Dome after today's game. The Bucs are 1-0 in stadiums preceding concerts. On Nov. 2, 1997, they beat the Colts 31-28 in Indianapolis before a LeAnn Rimes concert.
HOOP, THERE IT IS
It seems the Bucs could put together a decent basketball team. Tight end Rickey Dudley (6-6, 255 pounds) started at Ohio State, quarterback Brad Johnson (6-5, 230) started at FSU and defensive end Simeon Rice (6-5, 268) scrimmages with Michael Jordan in the offseason. Add to the mix receiver Joe Jurevicius (6-5, 235), tight end Ken Dilger (6-5, 250) and cornerback Dwight Smith (5-10, 210), all of whom allegedly have game, and the Bucs could dominate various charity events.
And where would the outside shots come from?
"I've never really lost at horse," Johnson said. "Only my dad can beat me because he's got a hook shot, and my grandmother because she can hit a granny shot."
WHEN LAST THEY MET
The Bucs intercepted Chris Chandler four times, had four sacks, blocked a punt and pulled off a fake punt to cruise to a 27-14 victory in Atlanta on Nov. 5, 2000. Keyshawn Johnson caught two touchdowns and Warrick Dunn had 77 yards on 18 carries as the Bucs opened with a 14-0 lead and scored 10 points in the fourth.
0: NFC starting quarterbacks with a higher rating that Atlanta's Michael Vick (101.1).
77.5: rushing yards per game for the Bucs, up from 69.7 last weekend.
148.3: rushing yards per game for the Falcons.
965: passing yards for Brad Johnson during the first quarter of the season, putting him on pace for 3,860.
23,000: season-ticket seats in the Georgia Dome available from $100 to $240 (last season they were $300-$360).
THE LAST WORD
"We've got to play explosively. We've got to play fast. ... The guy's a terrific player and he's making plays all over the field and they're doing a good job putting him in situations that showcase his talent. But, we've got to play our game and I like our chances." -- Bucs Pro Bowl safety John Lynch on dealing with Vick.
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