tampabay.com

Bucs questions irk Vick

By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published December 22, 2005


TAMPA - Falcons quarterback Michael Vick went on the defensive Wednesday when asked about poor performances against the Bucs, citing a Nov.20 loss at Atlanta as evidence he can get the better of the Bucs.

Vick completed 21 of 38 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns in his best game against Tampa Bay. However, Vick fell to 2-4 as a starter against the Bucs.

"You're still saying it's tough for me to handle that defense after what I did to them last time?" Vick said during a conference call. "Is that what you're saying? Is that what you're asking me? You're asking for an explanation for that? I can't. I'm sorry."

And when Vick was done, he was really done. After a follow-up question, Vick hung up.

Vick has had good and bad games against the Bucs since first facing them in 2002 (his second season in the league). Last season, he rushed for 73 yards and passed for 147 in Atlanta's 24-14 win. But in the other matchup, Vick threw two interceptions and had a 29.1 quarterback rating in Tampa Bay's 27-0 win.

Vick's uncanny ability to elude tacklers helps the Bucs rise to the occasion against him, lineman Ellis Wyms said. "We show up on Sunday, and we know we've got a Pro Bowl quarterback," Wyms said of Vick, who was named to his third Wednesday. "And you want to play well."

GOT JUICE? Coach Jon Gruden tried another motivational tactic Wednesday when he posted in the locker room pictures of athletes who have "juice." Among them were: Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Jerry Rice.

"There's been some great performers, not only in sports, but in life that have been kicked a little bit (and) knocked down," Gruden said.

"By God, if you have juice, if you're good, if you know you've got a chance to do something, you just keep pounding away."

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis but declined to make a guarantee about Saturday's game. "There's always a chance," said McFarland, who is listed as questionable.

Gruden said right tackle Kenyatta Walker (shoulder) showed improvement and is probable. Tight end Anthony Becht (ankle) and linebacker Marquis Cooper (chest) are questionable, and cornerback Juran Bolden (calf) is probable.