Times links
Devil Rays
Arena football
High school
2006 schedule
home of the infamous Armchair QB board.
Get Bucs, Rays or Lightning news from the Times sent daily via e-mail.
How well do you think you know your favorite team?
Fan info

printer version

O-line produces an effort to build on

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 4, 2002

TAMPA -- The Bucs offensive line has received its share of criticism.

The running game was suspect at best, and quarterbacks more often than not had little time to settle their feet in the pocket and throw. Three-step drops often became two-step falls.

The unit's performance against the Vikings Sunday was cause for optimism.

The running game produced 133 yards (43 above the Bucs' average), and quarterback Brad Johnson, with time to throw, completed 24 of 31 passes for 313 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. Johnson had an off-the-charts quarterback rating of 148.3, well above the 80.6 rating with which he entered.

"It definitely feels good any time you contribute, and today I definitely feel like we contributed," center Jeff Christy said.

Tackle Kenyatta Walker said the unit expected to play well, especially after watching tape of the Vikings last week.

"Minnesota is not one of the strongest lines in the league," Walker said. "Not to take anything away from them, but we felt the whole week that we were better."

Sunday, the Bucs proved it.

After allowing 24 sacks through eight games, Tampa Bay allowed none Sunday. Johnson, who returned after missing one game with cracked ribs, made the Vikings pay early and often.

"The offensive line played tremendously today, especially with what I was going through with the rib thing," Johnson said. "I really didn't get hit all day. Those guys dominated up front and helped us play the way that we did. It was a good day offensively."

Even Bucs defenders took notice.

"It all started up front," linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "You see when the offensive line plays well what this offense can do."

The question now: Can the Bucs continue to play like this?

"We went out and did what we were supposed to do," Walker said. "We did a great job, but we definitely can do better."

HAVE ONE ON KEY: When Keyshawn Johnson caught a 2-yard touchdown from Brad Johnson in the second quarter, he threw the ball into the stands, where it was caught by Pat Hebda of Sarasota in the third row of Section 214.

"I didn't think he had that good of an arm; that's a 50-yard pass," said Hebda, 36, who said he attends a few Bucs games a year.

Hebda said he caught a home run ball hit by Cal Ripken in spring training. He threw the ball back onto the field, which got him ejected from the stadium. After he caught Johnson's pass, he was offered $500 for the ball, but he said he'll take it home to his 2-year-old daughter, Sophia.

"I had to fight about seven guys to get it," Hebda said. "I don't think Keyshawn would have caught that."

When Johnson scored in the third quarter, he ran to back of the end zone and handed the ball to a youngster in the first row wearing a No. 19 jersey.

GOOD MEMORIES: Receiver Karl Williams entered with two catches for 12 yards. He had four receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown, with a long of 17 yards.

BAD MEMORIES: Viking guard Corbin Lacina had one of those days a player would like to forget. The ninth-year vet had a holding penalty in the first quarter that nullified a 40-yard touchdown from Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss. The score would have tied it at 7, but Minnesota had to punt two plays later. Lacina sprained his knee early in the second quarter and did not return.

ONE AND DONE: Bucs reserve tailback Aaron Stecker had one carry for 59 yards, giving him 122 yards on 17 carries, a 7.1-yard average. The players ahead of him on the depth chart, Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott, have averages of 3.5 and 3.2, respectively.

Coach Jon Gruden was asked after the game if he had given thought to getting Stecker more carries.

"You've got a lot of people working on me to get Alstott the ball more," Gruden said, joking. "Now you want Stecker, too?"

ODDS AND ENDS: The Bucs have won five straight over the Vikings at home and hold a 102-51 scoring edge in the past three. ... Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a seven-year veteran, recorded his third career interception. He has two this season. Sapp also saw action at tight end in a first-half goal-line situation. ... Defensive end Simeon Rice, with two sacks, has five in his past three games and 71/2 for the season. ... For the first time this season, the Bucs scored on their first four possessions. ... Because it was Military Appreciation Day, Gen. Tommy Franks of Central Command participated as an honorary coin toss captain during pregame ceremonies.


Back to the Bucs
Today's lineup

  • It's alive!
  • Romano's Gimme Five
  • Keyshawn keeps it moving
  • O-line produces an effort to build on
  • Game balls
  • Basic offense makes believers of Vikings
  • Running backs check egos to benefit offense
  • Breakdowns gnaw at defense despite rout
  • Sound bites
  • Bucs/Vikings quotebooks
  • Shelton: Brad just goes out and plays

  • Lightning
  • Lightning still in a battle for respect

  • Other sports

    College football
  • Tenacity keeps Gators in hunt for East title
  • Miami surrenders top spot to Oklahoma in AP Top 25
  • McPherson wins over coach
  • Coach sees the good in close call
  • Blackwell still adding to legacy

  • NFL
  • Tagliabue to coaches: Stop the illegal hits
  • Steelers thwart rival Browns
  • Risk rewards Falcons on offense
  • It's guaranteed: '76 Bucs are safe
  • Giants turn it up on offense
  • Niners drive Raiders away
  • New England's Brady beats Bledsoe again
  • NFL Round-up
  • Chambers can prove his point face-to-face

  • Sports etc.
  • Benson finds way to Victory Lane
  • Finally ready to go
  • Blues make Lindros pay for gaffe, win 8th in a row
  • Reserves rally Heat past Kings
  • Runyan 5th as Kenyans pull sweep
  • Singh sheds albatross with win
  • Phillies to take shot at Thome, Glavine
  • Changing winds help Alison take title at Osprey Cup
  • Sports briefs
  • Vasser gets by Andretti on restart
  • No orders for Busch to assist teammate
  • Falcon's confidence unhurt
  • Eagles have one more goal
  • PHU's Elliot all by himself

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111


    On The Wire
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week