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TALK OF THE TOWN
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:
THAT WAS THEN ... : In some ways, this team is very similar to last season's. The offense has no running game, the defense is playing the same schemes, the Glazers are hiding behind their beards. The difference? Big plays. A turnover at a crucial moment, a big pass play when the time is right. The Bucs are taking more chances and it's paying off.
MISSED YOUR A-TRAIN: Warrick Dunn gained 14 yards -- and Mike Alstott was jealous. It appears the Bucs have misplaced their 248-pound fullback. After averaging 13 touches the first two weeks, the Bucs have gotten the ball to Alstott six, eight and five times the past three games.
COLLECTING RAYS THIRD BASEMEN: Vinny Castilla is playing for the Atlanta Braves. Doug Johnson is playing for the Atlanta Falcons. Do you suppose the Rays may try to work a deal with the Atlanta Hawks for Jared Sandberg?
MAKING HIS CASE: He leveled Kurt Warner to spring Derrick Brooks for a TD against St. Louis. He pitched to Brooks like an option quarterback for another score on Sunday. What more does Warren Sapp have to do to prove he is an offensive force?
THANK YOU VERY LITTLE: After all the back-slapping and well wishes, let's hope someone on the sideline mentioned to Dwight Smith that his diving interception of a fourth-down pass was, technically, a bad idea. It cost Tampa Bay almost 20 yards in field position.
A LIST OF FIVE
Dangers of jumping on the bandwagon:
5: Do you really want to be seen buying a Chucky doll?
4: Could find yourself dancing like Sapp.
3: Would surely cause an argument in your family over who gets to dress up as Bryan and who gets to dress up as Joel on Halloween.
2: Without a long snapper, this team is going nowhere.
1: You might miss and land on the Rays bandwagon.
5 MEASURES OF D DOMINANCE
-- It's nice of Brad Johnson and the fellas on offense to show up every week but, when you think about it, are they really necessary? Tampa Bay's defense has scored 28 points the past four games. It has given up only 20.
-- If you were looking at Brian Kelly and Dexter Jackson as weak links on defense, then start looking elsewhere. Kelly, at times, has been an impact player, and Jackson has been more consistent than in 2001.
-- Unlike a Bears coach who allegedly told players to take out Michael Vick's knees, the Bucs instead attacked his weakness. They made him throw.
-- Between a turnover and two special-teams goofs, Atlanta's average starting field position on its first three drives was the Bucs 48. Even with that handicap, the defense gave up one field goal.
-- A defensive tackle (Sapp) and defensive end (Simeon Rice) have more interceptions than the Pro Bowl cornerback (Ronde Barber) and Pro Bowl safety (John Lynch).
FIVE SUPER PICKS
Checking out the best bets (and the Bucs) for Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego:
1. RAIDERS: First week of October and one unbeaten remains.
2. DOLPHINS: Should be okay if they stay away from Ole Miss.
3. 49ERS: Probably not this good, but I like anyone who pounds the Rams.
4. JAGUARS: Other GMs are checking the Yellow Pages for psychiatrists.
8. BUCS: If running game gets better, this could be interesting.
FIVE FINAL WORDS
Wonder what Parcells is doing?
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