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Tampa Bay is able to overcome errors

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 25, 2002


TAMPA -- Beating Green Bay was big, but Tampa Bay was far from perfect Sunday.

TAMPA -- Beating Green Bay was big, but Tampa Bay was far from perfect Sunday.

Receiver Keyshawn Johnson had two catches for 48 yards (including one for 39 yards that set up a second-quarter field goal) and one two-point conversion catch yet dropped three passes.

A first-quarter pass bounced off Johnson's hands and was intercepted by linebacker Na'il Diggs. Diggs returned the ball to the Tampa Bay 45, leading to a Green Bay touchdown.

Johnson also was flagged for illegal formation during the third quarter.

The Bucs had several other miscues.

One came at the end of Diggs' return, when center Jeff Christy was called for a late hit, setting up Green Bay on the Tampa Bay 30.

Another happened early in the second quarter, when Karl Williams, after fielding a punt at the Bucs 31, lateraled across the field to Dexter Jackson. The Bucs lost 6 yards.

The final miscue could have been costly.

On third and 1 from the Tampa Bay 39 early in the fourth quarter with the Bucs ahead 14-7, Brad Johnson found Rickey Dudley open across midfield. But the tight end dropped what would have been a huge gain, forcing a punt.

Fortunately for Dudley, the defense held Green Bay to 1 yard on its next series.

QB TALK: Coach Jon Gruden said he will reevaluate the backup quarterback situation.

Rob Johnson, who replaced injured starter Brad Johnson for three series during the first half, was 3-for--5 for 33 yards but was sacked twice and threw an interception.

Shaun King was the third-stringer.

"I'm going to keep looking at that," Gruden said. "Rob Johnson was pressed into a very difficult role. It's a situation I'll continue to look at. I'll see the film and see for myself how I think Rob played."

HOMEFIELD HEAVEN: The Bucs did not leave home during November, marking the first calendar month in club history without a road game. They went 3-0 and are 11-3 in November since 1999.

Tampa Bay has won five in a row at home against the Packers.

Receiver Terry Glenn, a first-year Packer who previously played for New England, said several teammates talked last week about Green Bay's struggles in Tampa.

"I'm starting to feel what they've been saying," Glenn said. "It was tough."

The Bucs are 23-7 at home since 1999, tied for second-best in the league (with St. Louis) behind Green Bay (23-6).

STEP ASIDE, CAPTAIN FEAR: The new team mascot is 1-0.

Wednesday, an unknown Bucs player/coach/staffer placed a solid rock weighing more than 200 pounds in the middle of the locker room at One Buc Place. The rock is supposed to symbolize the team's slogan: Pound the Rock.

Sunday, the rock made its first appearance at Raymond James Stadium. It was placed on top of an equipment case in the locker room.

"We do what we have to do," Bucs receiver Keenan McCardell said. "We try to pound the rock each week."

STEPPING UP: Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice had two sacks, including one on the game's final play. Rice has eight in his past four games and 191/2 in his past 17 regular-season games. It marked the fourth consecutive week he recorded multiple sacks.

The Bucs, who finished with three sacks, have a sack in 55 consecutive games.

WELCOME HOME: Packers middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson, the well-known ex-Buc, made seven tackles.

After his stop of Ken Dilger on a 5-yard reception on Tampa Bay's first play, Nickerson was booed.

Nickerson played for the Bucs from 1993-99 and was one of the most popular players.

INJURY REPORT: Quarterback Brad Johnson (scratched right eye) is fine. Fullback Jameel Cook (left ankle sprain), running back Aaron Stecker (right hamstring strain) and defensive Ellis Wyms (right ankle sprain) are scheduled to be reevaluated today.

ODDS AND ENDS: Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had one sack, giving him 10 for the season and seven in his past five games. He's the first Packer with back-to-back double-digit sack seasons since Reggie White (1997-98). ... Packers tailback Ahman Green, held to 56 yards on 18 carries with a long of 10 yards, had a career-high 169 against the Bucs at Lambeau Field last season. Before Sunday, Green had 833 yards this season on 192 carries. ... Favre's first-quarter touchdown pass gave him 20 for the season, marking his ninth consecutive season of 20 or more touchdown passes. Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino holds the NFL record with 10 consecutive seasons with 20 or more.

-- GREG AUMAN, DARRELL FRY, ROGER MILLS, KEITH NIEBUHR

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