© St. Petersburg Times, published November 4, 2002
TALK OF THE TOWN
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:
SAME OLD STORY: Thank goodness the offense was there again for the Bucs. But it makes you wonder, how long can it continue bailing out the defense?
ANSWERING THE CRITICS: The offensive line gave quarterback Brad Johnson ample time in the pocket, and he threw five touchdown passes. Imagine what he could do if they had a running game. At the least, Johnson's performance puts to rest the question of who should be quarterback.
PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTHS: Warren Sapp has two interceptions this season and, both times, immediately has tried to lateral. Perhaps age is finally catching up. The big fella just doesn't run the football the way he once did. As a rookie, Sapp returned his first interception all the way for a touchdown. They were five of the prettiest return yards you have ever seen.
SECRET WEAPON: You hate to suggest the game officials are not paying attention, but referee Jeff Triplette called Tampa Bay's No. 59 for a personal foul in the second quarter and an offsides penalty in the third. The Bucs do not have a No. 59 on their roster.
THE MOSS INTELLECT: When asked why the Bucs have beaten the Vikings so easily at Raymond James Stadium, Minnesota receiver Randy Moss said it was because of the stadium's "13th man." We can only assume Moss meant the traditional "12th man" label assigned to home fans. On the other hand, maybe he was referring to No. 59.
Five reasons to get off coach Jon Gruden's back:
5. Tony Dungy has the Colts at 4-4.
4. Never says, "I told you so."
3. Steve Spurrier has the Redskins at 4-4.
2. Single-handedly responsible for making freckles sexy.
1. Bill Parcells has his fantasy team at 4-4.
1. Central Command will not be moved from MacDill Air Force Base. Not unless the Bucs start playing home games in Kabul. Gen. Tommy Franks puts in more Raymond James appearances than the Glazers.
2. The running backs will continue to rotate. Mike Alstott was given a chance as the feature back Sunday and averaged 2.1 yards on 26 carries. Expect to see Alstott, Michael Pittman and Aaron Stecker move in and out of the lineup depending on the situation and opponent.
3. Vikings guard Corbin Lacina and Moss will not be sharing dinner. Moss had a 40-yard touchdown negated because Lacina was called for holding.
4. Simeon Rice will make the Pro Bowl. Rice has been terrific since the second half of 2001. With two sacks Sunday, he has 17.5 in his past 18 games.
5. Uncle Junior will be acquitted on The Sopranos.
Checking out the best bets (and the Bucs) for Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego:
1. PACKERS: Wonder how Mike Holmgren is enjoying the Pacific Northwest?
2. SAINTS: Two key road games against division opponents coming up.
3. EAGLES: Only NFC playoff contender with a defense to rival the Bucs.
4. 49ERS: Would be higher if they could kick field goals.
5. BUCS: They made me do it. Their first Top 5.
(Message to Keyshawn)
Throw me the dang ball!