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3rd quarter

Turnovers and a sigh of relief

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2003


RECAP: The Bucs set the tone with an interception on the first play then kept the 49ers offense off the field with a 10-play drive that consumed 6:16 and ended with a 19-yard Martin Gramatica field goal. San Francisco later put together one of its best drives of the game, but a scoring chance ended with a lost fumble at the Tampa Bay 35. San Francisco had 42 yards for the quarter.

KEY PLAY: The first of Tampa Bay's second possession, when quarterback Brad Johnson returned to the game after a minor injury. After getting cut above his right eye, Johnson missed four plays during the previous series and left the field on a cart. He returned to the sideline a few minutes later with stitches and a bandage over his eye. When Johnson joined his teammates in the huddle, he received a standing ovation. The drive netted only 6 yards and ended with a punt, but Johnson's return was a relief to Bucs fans.

KEY PLAYER: On the first play after the half, Bucs cornerback Dwight Smith intercepted a Jeff Garcia pass after it bounced off the hands of Terrell Owens. He returned it 6 yards to the 49ers 37.

UNSUNG HERO: With the 49ers threatening to score late, Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice flushed Garcia from the pocket then stripped the ball with his right hand. It was recovered by linebacker Derrick Brooks.

DID YOU NOTICE?: With the Bucs appearing to be in control, several thousand fans didn't return to their seats until well into the quarter. ... Bucs backup quarterback Rob Johnson handed off three times then gained 7 yards on third and goal from the 8 in his only action. ... Bucs backup defensive tackle Chartric Darby was in on a sack and had one quarterback pressure, which resulted in an incomplete pass.

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