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Apparent TD makes difference in the end


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 25, 2000

TAMPA -- Jacquez Green didn't think he scored either, but the Bucs receiver thought he got a lot closer than officials gave him credit for.

In a 21-17 loss to the Jets on Sunday, the seven points the Bucs might have scored on first and goal from the New York 2 were a lot more important than the three they settled for on a 22-yard Martin Gramatica field goal.

On a play that later became huge, Green burned Aaron Glenn deep with 10:08 left in the first quarter, caught a pass from Shaun King and dived into the end zone after racing down the sideline for an apparent 86-yard touchdown. But officials ruled Green stepped out of bounds at the 11, however, and coach Tony Dungy, by NFL rules, could not challenge the spot of the ball after the play was whistled dead.

"(Officials) thought (Jacquez) was out of bounds, so he blew the whistle," Dungy said. "Once he blew the whistle, there was nothing we could do. We challenged it, but they said it was out of our hands."

Replays appeared to show Green did not step out.

He agreed.

"I don't think I stepped out. I was watching the sideline the whole time," Green said. "I think my knee probably hit down at the 2.

"Looking back on it, I think we probably needed that play. It's a four-point loss, and we would have gotten a TD there instead of a field goal."

WHO WON?: Keyshawn Johnson finished with one catch for 1 yard and a tackle of Victor Green after an interception. Jets linebacker John Abraham and tight end Anthony Becht -- the players drafted with the first-round picks the Bucs traded for Johnson -- were markedly better. Becht caught two passes for 20 yards, and Abraham forced and recovered the King fumble that killed the Bucs' last chance with 52 seconds left.

THIRD DOWN: The Jets were 5-for-15 on third-down attempts, but they were 2-for-4 during the drive that pulled them within three points. The Bucs entered the game No. 1 in the NFL in defending third downs, having stopped 32 of 39 attempts.

BARBER SHOP: It's not that cornerback Ronde Barber did not enjoy his 37-yard interception return for a touchdown of a Vinny Testaverde pass.

He just didn't think it was that great of a play.

"We were in a Cover 2, and I guess he thought we were in a man-to-man," Barber said. "He made a bad throw, and I just basically picked it off.

"It's not a hard play. You just have to hang onto the ball."

The return was Barber's second for a touchdown -- both at home -- this season. He picked up a fumble and returned it 24 yards against the Bears two weeks ago.

MOORE IMPORTANT: Dave Moore broke wide open down the middle of the field in the second quarter but missed a chance for a long gain when King unleashed one of his numerous high throws.

Moore, who entered the game with just one reception, made the most of his next chance, leaping to make a left-handed catch in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown and 10-3 Bucs lead.

FINALLY: The Bucs offense committed its first turnover of the season when King was intercepted on his 11th pass of the game. King had gone 85 passes to start the season without being intercepted.

ET CETERA: With a touchdown and field goal, Tampa Bay improved to 13-for-13 inside opponents' 20-yard line this season.

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