Times links
Devil Rays
Arena football
High school
2006 schedule
home of the infamous Armchair QB board.
Get Bucs, Rays or Lightning news from the Times sent daily via e-mail.
How well do you think you know your favorite team?
Fan info
Print storySubscribe to the Times

Penalty on punt becomes key play

After Ryan Nece is called for roughing the kicker, the Patriots keep the ball and score for a 14-point lead.

Published December 18, 2005

[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Will Allen tries to block the punt of Josh Miller during the second quarter.
Pats 28, Bucs 0
Download podcast
Photo gallery | Bucs forum

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Bucs had escaped another shot by Tom Brady. They had gotten the quarterback off the field and - they hoped - themselves back in the game.

After scoring a touchdown on their first possession, the Patriots had come up short for the fourth consecutive time. "We're feeling pretty good there because we'd settled down and settled in," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. But as the Patriots lined up to punt on fourth and 13 from their 47 with 4:39 left in the second quarter, that feeling quickly vanished, giving way to one of frustration.

Linebacker Ryan Nece, the special teams captain, was called for roughing the kicker. The result was a 15-yard penalty, first down and, worse, a momentum swing so decisive the Bucs never recovered.

The Patriots went on to march the remaining 38 yards in six plays, capping the drive with a Brady touchdown pass to Tom Ashworth. Moments later, the New England defense - also energized by the turn of events - jarred the ball from Chris Simms, with Willie McGinest scooping up Mike Vrabel's forced fumble.

That set up another Brady touchdown pass, a 16-yard strike to David Givens with 27 seconds left in the first half.

That made the score 21-0, though it might as well have been twice that.

"When I look at (the roughing the kicker penalty), that's one that's going to dwell in my mind as a momentum-changing play," Nece said.

"You never know when that (momentum-changing) play is going to happen. But if you look at what happened after that flag, they got a lot of momentum and put points on the board. That's where the game got away from us."

Special teams loomed large again when Mark Jones' 81-yard punt return for a touchdown was negated by a holding penalty by Kalvin Pearson.

That would have trimmed New England's lead to 21-7 with 6:13 left in the third. "That's a heartbreaker right there," Nece said. "Then you look at my penalty, and it gives them a chance to get the ball back and put it in Brady's hands again. You don't want that. You don't want to beat yourself. Those are the types of plays where you beat yourself."

The penalty against Pearson was obvious. But the call against Nece was borderline, he said. The Bucs called for an all-out rush. Nece dived toward Josh Miller and grazed him with his shoulder while Miller completed his kicking motion and, thus, was more susceptible to injury.

Nece could have been flagged for running into the kicker, a 5-yard penalty that would not have resulted in a first down.

"I didn't feel like I hit him that hard to draw the flag," said Nece, who added he believed Miller added some dramatics to make his fall look worse. "That's a judgment call on the ref, and obviously, he felt like I deserved it.

"You have to go into the meetings and look everybody in the eye. And if you made a mistake, you have to suck it up. That's the nature of this game because of the pressure of the game. Obviously, I can come up with a lot of excuses to say I didn't do it, but film doesn't lie. So we'll look at the film and evaluate it from there."

But the Bucs will devote more time this week to analyzing why they were unable to stop Brady and the Patriots after the penalty. "If there's a blade of grass on the field for us to defend, we're going to defend it," linebacker Derrick Brooks said.

"One thing we can't control is how we get out there. But we can control what we do when we get out there."

[Last modified December 18, 2005, 01:02:23]

Today's lineup

  • Chris crinkled
  • Quarter by quarter
  • Rice reaches 10 sacks for eighth time
  • 'All or nothing' defense batters Simms
  • Brady banged up? Don't tell the Bucs
  • Coaches quotebook
  • Penalty on punt becomes key play

  • Rays
  • Big decisions loom on horizon

  • Lightning
  • Red Wings crack Lightning defense
  • Two fourth-liners benched; minor-leaguers called up

  • Other sports

  • Autographed Rose bat auctions for $103,631

  • Boxing
  • New champ tallest, heaviest ever

  • College basketball
  • ACC: Deacons pummel youthful Princeton
  • SEC: Vols hand 'Horns another blowout
  • Top 25: Afflalo and UCLA hold off Michigan rally in 68-61 win
  • Unlikely 3-pointer lifts FSU
  • Big East: Cats rebound, batter Cards
  • Today: UF vs. Jacksonville
  • Women: FSU ahead early in win over Owls

  • College football
  • USF works to get Peyton in place

  • Commentary
  • Faceoff
  • From the Top
  • The Buzz

  • Golf
  • Goosen leads at S. African Open

  • In brief
  • Brooksville man wins 10K Classic

  • NBA
  • Agent: Artest wants to stay

  • NFL
  • Don't let door hit you on way out
  • Quick reads
  • Today's games
  • Barber, Giants close in
  • Broncos wrap up AFC playoff berth
  • Panthers put Davis on injured reserve

  • NHL
  • New Penguins coach brings gruff manner
  • Slapshots
  • Gretzky leaves his team to be with ill mom

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • CCC star goes with Gators
  • Clearly the best
  • Emphatic Eagles' win
  • Lecanto extends dominance
  • Palmetto Ridge edges PHU
  • Letters to the Editor: Sound off
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111


    On The Wire
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week