A Bucs blowout is on the horizon
By ALAN RITTNER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 27, 2003
OVERVIEW: It was 3-3 going into the quarter; it was 20-3 coming out after an almost complete domination by the Bucs, who outgained the Raiders 198-62 and held the ball for more than five minutes more in the half. The Raiders drives ended with interception, punt, punt and the end of the half. Tampa Bay's drives went field goal, punt, touchdown, touchdown. Brad Johnson started to hit his receivers with more frequency late in the quarter, capped by a 5-yard touchdown throw to Keenan McCardell. The difference, however, was the running game, especially Michael Pittman, who found big holes behind an inspired offensive line. Meanwhile, the Bucs defense played at its usual level, shutting down the running game and forcing league MVP Rich Gannon to scramble on nearly every attempt.
KEY PLAYER: Pittman had perhaps his best quarter, and half, as a Buc. Though he didn't score, he had more rushing yards at halftime (75) than he had in all but one regular-season game. He gained 25 of the Bucs' 27 yards on their first touchdown drive, and he gained 17 more on a 77-yard TD drive near the end of the half.
HIGHS: Safety Dexter Jackson had his second interception of the game after the Raiders picked up a first down at their 43 on their first possession of the quarter. ... After the Bucs went three-and-out on the possession after the pick, punter Tom Tupa pinned the Raiders at their 11, and the defense moved them back a yard on two incompletions and Simeon Rice's sack, his second of the game. Karl Williams' 25-yard return on the ensuing punt immediately put the Bucs in field-goal range at the Raiders 27. ... Keyshawn Johnson made an outstanding sliding catch, reaching behind him for a 10-yard grab at the Oakland 20 with 1: 09 left. ... Mike Alstott had a crucial first-down run on the same drive, avoiding a tackle, then getting out of bounds with 34 seconds left to set up first and 5.
LOWS: Almost nothing to choose from, but ... the Bucs couldn't take advantage of Jackson's interception, going three-and-out.
DID YOU NOTICE: The Raiders offense? Neither did we. ... The high snap on Martin Gramatica's 43-yarder was handled well by holder Tupa. ... The Tampa Bay offense did a marvelous job of clock management on its second touchdown drive, which started with 3: 45 left in the half and ended with 34 seconds left and the Bucs still holding on to one timeout. ... Jerry Rice, on the Raiders bench, was heard questioning with fellow receiver Jerry Porter whether the Bucs could stop the run. At halftime the Raiders had 18 yards on 10 carries (a 1.8-yard average). ... The Raiders, the most-penalized team in the league, had none until aiding the Bucs with three on Tampa Bay's last possession of half.
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