By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 2, 2001
TAMPA -- In the midst of a long day for the Bucs defense, linebacker Derrick Brooks showed why he has made four trips to the Pro Bowl.
Brooks initially was credited Sunday with 16 solo tackles, four assisted tackles and one interception. After the coaching staff reviewed game film and graded Brooks' effort, the seven-year pro from Florida State was awarded with three more tackles Monday.
His 23-tackle effort is a team record, surpassing the mark of 22, which he shared with former linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
Brooks had 22 tackles against the Bills on Nov. 26 last year. Nickerson's 22 came against the Bears on Nov. 23, 1997.
Brooks was unavailable to comment, but linebackers coach Joe Barry said the effort was Herculean.
"It was unbelievable," Barry said. "He made the very first tackle of the game (stopping Vikings fullback Jimmy Kleinsasser for a 3-yard reception), and came up and smacked him and it was the first of 23 tackles. And then he was there trying to make the last tackle of the game (trying to stop Daunte Culpepper from reaching the end zone.) "He played an amazing game, just an amazing game."
Brooks' penchant for putting up big tackle numbers is at times a product of a defensive scheme that channels the ball toward his position. But Barry said only a few players in the league could deliver on so many opportunities.
"We went into that game with a lot of stuff on his shoulders, as far as getting every body lined up and getting the calls, the checks, and he did not have one blown call, nor one mistake," Barry said. "On top of that he had 23 tackles and an interception. The guy played his butt off."
Barry said the disappointment is that Brooks' performance was overshadowed by the loss and the Vikings' 402 yards of offense.
"No question, he would have traded the 23 tackles in for a win," Barry said. "But I don't think he could have played any better."
SOLID PROTECTION: Considering two offensive linemen were making their second NFL starts, the Bucs are pleased with the protection of quarterback Brad Johnson, who was sacked once, a 1-yard loss in the fourth quarter. "The protection was as good as you could expect up there," coach Tony Dungy said. "(The Vikings) do a good job when you have to go on the silent count. They can jump the snap, and they have some pretty good rushers."
CHRISTY'S DAY: Sunday's game marked the return of Pro Bowl center Jeff Christy. Christy had been sidelined all season with a left knee sprain but benefited from the 21-day layoff.
Christy was active in pulling plays and helped the Bucs average 6.5 yards rushing.
"When you take all of that into consideration, then I guess I had a good day," Christy said. "We knew, we thought that we had a good plan for them and it worked to some extent. Unfortunately, we didn't get the ball enough and weren't able to score in the running game.
"Contrary to popular belief, the running game didn't stall again. I didn't think it did."
STATS CAN BE DECEIVING: With four No. 1 picks on the defensive line, the Bucs entered the season expecting each week to ravage the quarterback. But after two games, the line has three sacks. Right defensive end Simeon Rice recorded the only sack Sunday.
Dungy said credit has to be given to the remarkable play of Culpepper, who time after time made a play while the pocket collapsed.
"We had some pretty good rushes but didn't get the quarterback down," Dungy said. "Probably the quarterback had a lot to do with it."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Dungy on the 21-day layoff: "We had the biggest advantage that we could have. We were rested up. We were healthy. We were prepared. We had two weeks to get ready for them. It was one of those things, that if you're ever going to win a game that should have been the one to win."
The Bucs will have to call on these backs while Warrick Dunn's strained foot heals:
HT/WT: 6-1, 248.
YEARS IN THE NFL: 6.
CAREER STATISTICS: 868 carries, 3,338 yards, 3.8 avg., 30 TDs.
HT/WT: 5-10, 205.
YEARS IN THE NFL: 2.
COLLEGE: Western Illinois.
CAREER STATISTICS: 14 carries, 32 yards, 2.3 avg., 0 TDs.
HT/WT: 6-1, 227.
YEARS IN THE NFL: 4.
CAREER STATISTICS: 21 carries, 82 yards, 3.9 avg., 0 TDs.