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Bucs DBs eliminate big gains

By JAMAL THALJI and ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 30, 2000


TAMPA -- Considering who was on the other side of the ball and considering the pedigree of the Vikings passing game, the work done by the Bucs secondary likely won't be overlooked during today's film review.

Cornerbacks Ronde Barber, Donnie Abraham and Brian Kelly, along with safeties Damien Robinson, John Lynch and Dexter Jackson, combined to keep the deadly duo of Randy Moss and Cris Carter to one touchdown.

"Stat-wise, it probably didn't look too good because they probably threw for over 300 yards (313)," Abraham said. "But any time you can keep a high-powered offense like that out of the end zone, it's a good day no matter what the stats are. We could give up 500 yards, but if they don't score, it's a good day for us."

Maligned for giving up big plays in the losses to the Redskins, Vikings and Lions, the secondary seemed determined Sunday not to let the Vikings, and Moss in particular, beat it with the long pass.

An early indication came in the Vikings' first series when quarterback Daunte Culpepper launched the ball from the Vikings 36. Robinson, sitting deep in a cover-two defense, nearly intercepted the pass.

"We came out with the mind-set knowing how they play and knowing they like to throw the ball downfield," Kelly said. "I think D-Rob's play ... let them know that we're not going to let them throw up and down the field on us."

HI, MOM: Emma Culpepper, the 84-year-old Ocala matriarch who adopted and raised former Central Florida star Daunte, sat on press row.

"I'm glad and surprised (at his success)," she said. "Because he did it on his own. He didn't have a real man in his life. A lot of boys got a lot of daddies, and he didn't.

"He's just been such an amicable kid all his days. ... He'd never do anything wrong."

She first watched him in person in Minnesota's 30-27 win over Chicago on Sept. 3. SAY WHAT?: The Bucs' frustrating history with instant replay continued as the Vikings won a crucial challenge in the first quarter. An apparent fumble by Culpepper, forced, recovered and returned to the Minnesota 8-yard line by Warren Sapp, was reversed.

On review, referee Phil Luckett declared the play an incomplete pass. Minnesota went on to score its touchdown.

"On the replay, when you go to that, you see the arm just starts going forward," Luckett said. "It turns into a tuck because he gets hit with his (Sapp's) arm and since his arm started forward, that is the beginning of a forward pass. The ball comes out, hits the ground, incomplete pass."

BUH-BYE: Vikings receiver Randy Moss was ejected with 1:54 left as Minnesota faced fourth and goal at the Bucs 5. He appeared to grab field judge Lloyd McPeters' arm and was thrown out for unsportsmanlike conduct. Minnesota failed to convert a fourth and 20 on the next play.

"After the pass was incomplete, No. 84 grabbed the field judge's arm and pulled him," Luckett said, "which is unsportsmanlike, and by our rules, disqualification."

Moss said he touched the field judge, but without force.

"I don't think, to be honest, I did anything wrong," Moss said. "He's got his back to me, I didn't grab his arm with force, I didn't squeeze it, I just touched his arm and asked him a question. So after that, he turned around and snapped on me and threw me out of the game."

What did Moss ask him?

"Did you see that pass interference?" Moss said.

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