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Bucs act naturally, except for pass

The Patriots give up a scoring pass in which the Bucs feigned disinterest for a "spike.''


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 4, 2000

FOXBORO, Mass. -- For the Bucs, it was all in the acting. For the Patriots, it was not reacting.

Tampa Bay's 21-16 victory over New England in the season opener Sunday featured a fake spike to kill the clock that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shaun King to Reidel Anthony.

The play was reminiscent of when Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino stunned the New York Jets in 1994 when he faked a spike and tossed a winning 8-yard touchdown to Mark Ingram with 22 seconds remaining. With the Bucs trailing 10-7 and having no timeouts, King drove Tampa Bay 50 yards in four plays, the biggest a 33-yard catch and run by receiver Jacquez Green with 56 seconds left in the half.

That was when offensive coordinator Les Steckel had King signal for the "kill" play.

The execution relies on all the offensive linemen, receivers and running backs acting as if they are relaxing, expecting King to spike the ball and kill the clock.

[Times photo: James Borchuck]
Frank Middleton hoists Reidel Anthony high after Anthony's second-quarter touchdown catch.
In fact, receiver Keyshawn Johnson turned his back to the Patriots defense.

"The kill play? That was fun," Steckel said. "We've practiced that and the kids really responded. It was fun. I just saw what was happening. We always tell Keyshawn to turn his back to the defense and kind of bend over like he's resting. And I believe he did and that just made everybody fall asleep. So that worked out great."

With movie director Spike Lee watching on the sidelines, the Bucs' fake spike was a solid acting job. Green and Anthony waited until King went into his throwing motion before leaving the line of scrimmage. King noticed cornerback Kato Serwanga napping on Anthony and floated a perfect 8-yard fade pass for the touchdown.

"I took drama back in middle school," Anthony said. "I may have sold myself to get in the movies like The (Original) Kings of Comedy. I may get in there. Spike was watching. "(Serwanga) was very relaxed. We saw the picture and he had his hands on his hips, huffing and puffing and looking back in the backfield. And I had my hands on my hips and I was just looking. And when Shaun snapped it, I just stood there and I took a peek. He was still standing there. And when I saw Shaun bring the ball back to fake the spike, I took off."

Under Steckel, the Bucs first used the fake spike play in training camp against their defense. It worked then, too.

"Actually, the first time we ran it against our defense, we got them," Anthony said. "Yo (Murphy) caught it."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew his defense got burned on one of the most embarrassing plays in football.

"We didn't react to the play well at all," he said. "We obviously blew it. There is no explanation. We blew it."

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