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Linebackers fail on two key plays
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times Staff Writer
Published September 10, 2007
[Brendan Fitterer | Times]
Shaun Alexander gains three yards as Cerrick Brooks (55) defends. Brooks was beaten for a 34-yard touchdown pass during the fourth quarter.
SEATTLE - The linebackers are perhaps the Bucs' deepest, most talent-rich unit.
That's where Derrick Brooks, prize free agent Cato June and up-and-comer Barrett Ruud make plays from sideline to sideline, displaying uncommon speed.
So how ironic was it Sunday that the linebackers were involved in two of Seattle's most pivotal plays? And how much of an impact could June have had if he was on the field more?
Those questions were an unfortunate backdrop to an otherwise productive day for the Bucs linebackers.
"We made a lot of plays, but we have to make them all," Ruud said of the linebackers. "There's definitely a lot of plays I didn't make. I could think of four or five that I want back."
Chief among those was a 49-yard strike from Matt Hasselbeck to Bobby Engram that turned third and 12 into first and goal at the 7. Seattle ended up with a field goal, its first points.
"I was worried a little about him stopping down around that first-down marker," Ruud said. "But then he just basically kept going and I ran as fast as I could with him."
So, too, did running back Maurice Morris, who drifted past Brooks when the 10-time Pro Bowl selection lost track of a Hasselbeck deep ball in midair. Morris caught it for a 34-yard touchdown and 14-point lead with 7:55 left.
"I was running with him stride for stride," Brooks said, "but when I looked back over my head, I lost the ball. The next time I saw it ... (he was) catching it."
June said he played about as much as he expected, but it was curious that the Bucs used him so infrequently in passing situations. At those times, the one-time college safety was taken out for a fifth defensive back, leaving Brooks and Ruud in.
The Bucs occasionally stayed in their base defense on a handful of third downs, according to linebackers coach Gus Bradley, but expect them to evaluate their personnel decisions after Sunday's outcome.