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Bucs offense starving for more touchdowns

Frustration is building as Tampa Bay struggles to reach the end zone.

[Times photo: John Pendygraft]
The Lions' Tracy Scroggins chases Bucs quarterback Shaun King out of the pocket in the fourth quarter.


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000

TAMPA -- It's really quite simple. You can't settle for field goals. Or safeties, for that matter.

[Times photos: Name Here]
Bucs Keyshawn Johnson, left, and Shaun King look on from the sideline in the remaining minutes of the game.
If an NFL franchise is going to win most of its games and put itself in position to continue playing in January, touchdowns have to be the main course.

No more of these three-point appetizers. No more of these two-point desserts.

"I don't know if frustration is the word but I'm disappointed," offensive guard Frank Middleton said. "I'm very disappointed in our offense." "

After losing 28-14 to the Lions on Thursday night, the Bucs offense is still starving for the big play, still failing to put the ball in the end zone when it should, still incapable of converting on short yardage, still turning over the ball. "We've got to stop this," Middleton said. "This kicking three field goals, four field goals, has to stop. We have to score touchdowns." In a crucial NFC Central home game the Bucs desperately needed to win to keep within reach of unbeaten Minnesota, Tampa Bay's offense could muster only 258 yards and squandered scoring opportunities along the way.

The offensive diet began on the first possession. Tampa Bay managed a 12-play, 60-yard drive that soaked up more than six minutes and got the ball to the Lions 17. In fact, the Bucs had third and 1 from Detroit's 8, but running back Mike Alstott was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage and Tampa Bay had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica.

It has to start with quarterback Shaun King, who completed 17 of 34 passes for 149 yards and threw three interceptions. Although there were moments when the Bucs moved the ball, it ended up being no more than a mirage.

King couldn't get his team over the hump. After the Lions tied the score in the second quarter and were forced to punt after the first possession of the second half, the Bucs offense had a chance to regain control.

But on third and 6, King threw a pass to Lions cornerback Bryant Westbrook. That interception led to a 47-yard Jason Hanson field goal that gave the Lions their first lead.

"The thing that's frustrating was that we beat ourselves," King said. "I'm not consistently making my throws. We didn't execute."

In all, the Bucs quarterback struggled mightily in the second half. He was 10-for-22 after the break and punctuated his forgetable night by throwing a second interception midway through the fourth quarter. The Lions turned that into a 4-yard touchdown for a 21-14 lead.

"Every one is accountable for their mistakes and we have to do better as a football team," receiver Keyshawn Johnson said. "So many bad things happened. He's trying to make plays out there for us. ... He's a young guy and only played 12 or 13 games as a professional. You can't start blaming Shaun King. Everyone out there is accountable."

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