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December 24, 2002
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[Times photo: AP photo]
Bucs running back Michael Pittman sits on the bench near the end of the game.
Bye, Bye?
BUCS 7, STEELERS 17: The Bucs flop on MNF and no longer control their destiny in a quest for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Now they must beat the Bears and hope the Jets beat the Packers.

Photos/audio: Click here
John Romano: Gimme five!

Sound bites
Game balls

Johnson joins House in receiving history
TAMPA -- Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson had a slow start Monday night, but once Rob Johnson entered the two hooked up for enough yards to put the receiver over 1,000 for consecutive seasons.

Defeat muddles playoff plans
TAMPA -- After being hammered 17-7 by the Steelers, the Bucs face a cold reality.

Steelers let Bucs stop themselves
Pittsburgh's defense makes some big plays but doesn't have to do much to slow Tampa Bay.

Steelers offense goes pass-happy
TAMPA -- Hines Ward took one look at the Bucs defense and liked what he saw.

Gary Shelton: King and his court look like jesters
TAMPA -- Blame it on Shaun King. That's what I say.

Tampa Bay frustrated by another hot goalie
Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig makes 40 saves and the Lightning (four goals in four games) falls 3-0.

Lightning continues to miss on late scoring opportunities
WASHINGTON -- Sometimes it comes down to basics.

College basketball
Unsightly win alarms coach

GAINESVILLE -- Don't mention the words "cupcake," "easy opponent" or "sure win" to Florida coach Billy Donovan any more this season.

Tide rises to the top for the first time
Alabama is No. 1 in that other sport.

Vols labor to finish Western Carolina
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Ron Slay had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Brandon Crump added 14 points Monday night as Tennessee beat Western Carolina 79-61.

Tide survives first test at No. 1
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The No. 1 ranking didn't change Alabama's formula for success.

Misfiring Irish barely escape Colorado State's upset bid
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Alicia Ratay made two free throws with 9.3 seconds left as No. 12 Notre Dame overcame its worst shooting game of the season to beat Colorado State 46-45 on Monday afternoon.

Giants give themselves gift of a shot at a playoff berth

Christmas appears to be coming a tad early in New York.

Around the AFC
BENGALS: The team hasn't had a winning record in 12 years but is 10-2 in its final home game since 1991.

Around the NFC
BEARS: Punter Brad Maynard bested Pro Bowl-bound Todd Sauerbrun by averaging 44.5 yards to Sauerbrun's 40.3.

Feeley remains starting QB for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA -- Quarterback A.J. Feeley is 4-0 as a starter and will have another chance to stay perfect against the Giants on Saturday.

College football
Cardinals get their offensive guru

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Auburn offensive coordinator Bob Petrino was hired as Louisville's head coach Monday, replacing his former boss who moved on to Michigan State.

With a tie, Flyers slow Senators

OTTAWA -- Simon Gagne scored early in the third period and Philadelphia salvaged a 2-2 tie Monday with surging Ottawa in the second game of a home-and-home series.

Arkansas responds to NCAA

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville responded Monday to an NCAA letter of inquiry about overpayments from a booster to football and basketball players.

Bucks' Allen quiets Magic's comeback

ORLANDO -- Milwaukee's Ray Allen hid the pain in his ankles rather well against Orlando.

Tournament's final day filled with penalty kicks

CITRUS PARK -- Penalty kicks were all the rage during the final day of the Student Sports Invitational at Ed Radice Park on Monday.

Chamberlain finishes on top in Tampa
TAMPA -- Chamberlain claimed Tampa bragging rights by defeating host Tampa Prep 66-59 on Monday night.

Daily fishing report

The surprise catch Saturday came when one of my anglers thought he was hung up in the rocks again. The rod quickly was handed back to him with the exclamation, "No, you have a fish; here, reel!" After a surging battle, a 24-pound redfish surfaced. With a photograph and an explanation of slot-size regulations, the fish was released.

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