Observations from the telecast of the Bucs-Falcons game.
By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 7, 2002
Michael Vick this, and Michael Vick that.
Even before Sunday's game kicked off, NFL on Fox studio face Howie Long was telling us the Bucs had never seen anyone like Vick, who is, if you believe Long and game analyst Tim Green, the fastest, strongest-armed quarterback in the NFL.
Alas, it was Vick who never had seen anything like the Bucs defense. Though they spent the first quarter of the Bucs' win raving about Vick, Green and play-by-play man Kenny Albert got it right the last three quarters, giving credit to the impressive Tampa Bay defense.
"The story here today was this defensive front," Green said, with Albert later pointing out the Bucs have not allowed a touchdown in three road games.
Even against the mighty Vick.
ENOUGH ALREADY: Vick is definitely a player fans in Atlanta can get excited about, but there is a limit to what he can do against very good defenses.
Even when Vick did something simple like step up in the pocket to avoid an outside rush, Green gushed he "deftly" avoided Warren Sapp.
And blaming a lack of "rhythm," Green seemed almost disappointed each time one of Vick's passes was overthrown.
"Vick is not throwing with the accuracy he has shown this season," Green said. "You have to wonder if that (bye) week off didn't get him off that rhythm."
NOT JUST VICK: Analysts sometimes need more patience. After a few short completions in the first half, Green exclaimed Brad Johnson was now "going to work" and, after the first three plays of the second, he said: "The Buc offense is starting to operate on all cylinders."
How about a touchdown or a drive longer than three plays before such statements?
GOOD QUESTION: Why keep giving the ball to a guy (Warrick Dunn) who gets 2 yards a carry instead of a guy (T.J. Duckett) getting 5?
Green wanted to know, and for good reason. And when the Falcons continued to try to pitch outside to Dunn, Green just scoffed.
"I'll say it again: That will not work against this Tampa Bay defense."
JINX GRAPHIC: Vick had a 136.3 rating on third down, tops among NFL quarterbacks. But until he left with an injury, he converted one against the Bucs.
KEY SHOT: We got our requisite shot of Keyshawn Johnson complaining about something on the sideline, but didn't get an explanation of why Johnson was upset with someone in the stands after his touchdown. (It appeared someone intercepted a ball he intended for someone else.)
ON THE SPOT: Back from a commercial, Fox showed Sapp explaining to officials Vick was bobbing his head before the snap. The next play, Vick was penalized for it.
WHAT?: Let's limit the guests in the booth to people we can understand. And when Green asked singer James Brown for an "I feel good," it was painful to watch.
ON THE SPOT, II: Green and Albert did a nice job setting up plays. After it was pointed out Anthony McFarland was in Vick's head, McFarland delivered a big hit on him. When they brought up new Bucs long-snapper Morris Unutoa, his next snap almost went over Tom Tupa's head.
LOCAL FLAVOR: Albert always does a good job localizing players from Tampa Bay. Sunday, he mentioned Falcons kicker Jay Feely went to Jesuit and cornerback Juran Bolden went to Hillsborough.
It almost looked like former Rays farmhand Doug Johnson, the Falcons backup quarterback, would escape Albert's radar until he brought up the fact with 24 seconds left.
BEST LINE: "Keenan's dancing because it's the same play. It's just the same play." -- Green after the excited Bucs receiver caught back-to-back slant passes setting up the decisive score.