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Offense adjusts to discover the right gear, after a while

King-to-Keyshawn TD starts impressive second-half flurry.


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000

TAMPA -- Truth be told, the lights shouldn't just come on at the half, they should be glowing from the get-go.

And if he had his druthers, Bucs coach Tony Dungy would insist that his offense explode out of the blocks.


But the way the offense came alive in the second half, scoring 21 points on three memorable touchdowns, there likely will be few complaints today in Buc land.

"We made some adjustments at halftime and talked about closing out the game in a strong fashion," Dungy said. "We wanted to come out, get good kickoff coverage and come out aggressively on offense."

So said, so done.

Struggling in the first half, Tampa Bay turned to its million-dollar offensive catalyst, and receiver Keyshawn Johnson provided the spark.

"That was one of the biggest things we wanted to do," Johnson said. "We wanted to come out and have no breathing room for them, just choke them."

To strangle the Bears, the Bucs drove 90 yards in nine plays with their first possession of the third quarter. Johnson scored on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Shaun King.

In the box score, Johnson's touchdown with 8:27 left in the third shows that it made the score 27-0. But in reality it was more than that. It was an emotional lift to an offense that squandered a number of opportunities in the first half. It was a monkey off the back of a prized free-agent acquisition who had not yet gotten into the end zone in a Bucs uniform.

"It was key because it was early in the third," tight end Dave Moore said. "We felt the momentum before but when we came in (at the half) we were like, "Let's keep this thing rolling. We've got things going in our favor. Let's not go out there and give the momentum back.' It was a key catch by Keyshawn because it helped keep that momentum going."

For the Bucs, Johnson's touchdown appeared to have a psychological effect. After Johnson out-leaped a Bears defender for the touchdown, running back Warrick Dunn dived on top of Johnson to begin a frenzied celebration.

"If I didn't score, fine, we still won the game and that's what the most important thing of it was," Johnson said. "(But) I think a lot guys were excited to see that I scored a touchdown, just to know that if (one thing isn't) working we still have something we can do down there.

"I don't know if I'm a lucky charm or what."

Surprisingly, as the offense struggled in the first half, it seemed unable to find Johnson, the one off-season addition expected to help in just such situations. At the half, he had one reception for 19 yards.

"We ran the ball 500 times with the Jets, and we'll run the ball 500 times with the Bucs," Johnson said, dispelling questions that he was frustrated by not being involved more. "I will get my catches and I will score my touchdowns and that will not change.

"It's just when will I do it. I might have two catches this game, four the next, then 10, then three, then 10 again. That's how it was in New York, and that's how I expect it to be here. ... This is not the run-and-shoot. ... This is not Chicago's offense, you're not going to see us throw the ball 55 times a game and I knew that coming here."

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