More than star acquisition Keyshawn Johnson, the third-year receiver is emerging as the Bucs' go-to guy.
By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 10, 2000
MINNEAPOLIS -- As it turns out, the Bucs have both Keyshawn Johnson and the Green Lantern ... the real Green Lantern.
No, not the crime-fighting hero. Not Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet either, who earned the nickname after burning the Bucs two weeks ago. This Green Lantern is just as short and perhaps faster, and Monday night in Minnesota, he was almost superhero-like.
In his third year out of Florida, Jacquez Green was supposed to be poised for a breakout season with the Bucs. Then in the off-season, Tampa Bay signed Pro Bowl receiver Johnson, whose mere presence on offense seemed to signal limited opportunities for Green.
Quite the opposite has happened.
With Johnson drawing attention, Green has flourished, and he did it again against the Vikings, keeping the Bucs in a game that easily could have been a blowout for Minnesota.
The Bucs lost 30-23, but not for a lack of effort from the diminutive Green.
Green, who entered gaining 25.8 yards per catch, set a career high with 11 receptions for 131 yards in an effort that almost single-handedly kept the Bucs in the game.
"I knew going in that there were some coverages that would work for me, and tonight it just came through," Green said. "I would trade the whole thing back for the win."
"It's hard on him but it happens to all of us," fellow receiver Reidel Anthony said. "We have our best game as a pro and end up on the losing side. It hurts, but he can feel proud of the effort."
In the second and third quarters, there were moments when Green seemed the only Buc offensive weapon making a play.
|[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Jacquez Green is smothered by Vikings defender Kenny Wright in the first quarter of Monday night's game.
In a time-consuming, 19-play drive that soaked up the bulk of the second quarter, Green had three receptions for 33 yards. That drive finished with a 23-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica.
"Jacquez did a great job," quarterback Shaun King said. "I think he got the confidence he needed and hopefully he can take it from here."
The Vikings took a 20-10 lead on Gary Anderson's 42-yard field goal at the start of the third quarter. and the Bucs desperately needed a tourniquet.
Green provided it.
Hooking up with King, Green had receptions of 13, 18 and 10 yards and also drew a 15-yard penalty on cornerback Robert Tate, who shoved him a couple of feet out of bounds.
The Bucs got the ball to Minnesota's 13, but after an incomplete pass, a 2-yard loss for Warrick Dunn and a 5-yard false start penalty, Tampa Bay was slipping out of field-goal range. But on third and 20, Green came up with a 6-yard reception that enabled Gramatica to convert a 33-yard field goal that made the score 20-13.
"A lot of good the stats do you if you don't win," Green said.
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