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Gimme five

By JOHN ROMANO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 17, 2001


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TALK OF THE TOWN

Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:

PLAYOFF PICTURE: It is not quite as bleak as you might think, if only because the Falcons and Redskins were as pathetic as the Bucs on Sunday. Should Tampa Bay beat New Orleans this weekend, the Bucs will go into the season's final two weeks as the favorite for the final wild-card slot. If the Bucs win their final three games, they're in.

POINTLESS: Not to imply that Sunday's game started slowly, but with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the teams had combined for eight punts. If you want to quantify that, it translates to a punt every 2:24 minutes.

SOUND FAMILIAR?: The Bears are 10-0 when scoring 13 points or more, which is a similar script to Tampa Bay's breakout season for Tony Dungy in 1997 when the Bucs were 10-1 when scoring 13 points or more. The sad truth is the defense no longer can be counted on to win games by itself. The Bucs are 6-4 this season when scoring 13 or more.

THE NEW A-TRAIN: Sorry Mr. Alstott but, with three games to go, Chicago's Anthony Thomas has more yards in his rookie season (865) than you have in five of your six NFL seasons.

REPLAY RANT: It looked like Marty Booker's right toe touched the turf in the corner of the end zone. Chances are, it did. But it was not conclusive. Officials should not change a call just because the replay suggests they might have gotten it wrong.

A LIST OF FIVE

Five suggestions to get the offense to loosen up:

5: Hire Nate Newton to drive the team bus.

4: Pretend it's playing the Rams.

3: Bring in Mike Shula to talk about the good ol' days.

2: No more bran for the offensive line.

1: Two words: Kenny G.

FIVE SURPRISING FACTS

1. Of Tampa Bay's first 11 possessions, eight began or ended in Chicago territory. The Bucs converted a single field goal.

2. After 95 receptions this season, Keyshawn Johnson had his longest play of the season late in the second quarter. He fumbled inside the 10.

3. Booker has scored four touchdowns in two games against the Bucs this season. Which, coincidentally, is the same number of TDs he has in his other 11 games this season.

4. On his past 37 carries covering three games, Warrick Dunn has gained 0-2 yards 10 times. That's the good news. He has been tackled for negative yardage 12 times. That means he has been held to 2 yards or less on 59.4 percent of his carries.

5. You know that unstoppable Bears offense that has scored six touchdowns in two games with the Bucs? It hasn't performed as well in other recent games. It has three TDs in its past four games against teams not wearing pewter.

BIG EASY PICKS

Checking out the best bets (and the Bucs) for Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans:

1. RAMS: The Bucs hope the Rams are No. 1, because they can give Tampa Bay wiggle room by beating New Orleans tonight.

2. 49ERS: Pittsburgh, Baltimore or Oakland may win the Super Bowl but, until further notice, we are ignoring the bland AFC.

3. BEARS: After much consideration -- oh, about 13 weeks worth of games -- we finally concede Chicago is not an utter fluke.

4. LIONS: Based on strength of schedule and computer rankings, they'd be a shoo-in in the BCS.

15. BUCS: Do they really deserve a playoff spot?.

FINAL FIVE WORDS

Has anyone seen Reidel Anthony?

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