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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Familiar Tune

Keyshawn Johnson delivered the winning touchdown against Detroit and believes his Bucs can once again make a successful playoff run down the stretch


WR Keyshawn Johnson had nine other catches before his big touchdown against Detroit, including three others on the game-winning drive

By Steve Cohen, Special to

After his rookie season, Keyshawn Johnson wrote Just Give Me The Damn Ball, a book detailing his frustrations playing in the New York Jets offense. Last Sunday when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were trailing the Detroit Lions 12-7 with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Johnson went to head coach Tony Dungy and struck up a familiar tune.

"This is the first time I went to coach Dungy and said put the football in my hands and we'll have an opportunity to win the football game," Johnson told "Right before that drive, he said he would and it resulted in four catches and a score."

Johnson's receptions covered 59 of the 80 yards needed on the scoring drive. The final 13 yards gave him his first touchdown of the season.

"What we actually called was two in-cuts but we shook off the second in-cut, which was me, and put me on a corner route because I had been running in-cuts the entire game and they started to play two-man, which means the guy (safety) started to take away the inside and at that point, it was time for me to go back to the corner," said Johnson. "Brad (Johnson) knew it. I knew it. We told our coaches and they called the play and it resulted in a big play for us with a little less than a minute to go on the clock and it put us in position to win the football game."

The touchdown grab was Johnson's league-leading 93rd reception of the season. The Bucs made a concerted effort to get him the ball in the end zone against Detroit.

"This is the first game where I think we actually have noticeably thrown the ball into the end zone," he said. "We took three shots at me in the end zone and I scored on one of them."

In just 12 games, he has already broken Tampa Bay's club record for receptions, and surpassed his own personal high of 89 catches (1999 with the Jets). Johnson is now on pace to catch 124 passes, which would break Herman Moore's league record of 123.

"They've done a great job of getting me the football," said the sixth-year receiver. "Anytime you can lead the league in catches and your team is winning, you have to be happy about that. They're putting me in a position to make clutch catches on third downs and I've played a big role in the blocking game so I can't ask for anything more.

"Whether or not I would have scored a touchdown is not nearly as important to me as winning football games. Down the stretch, the big games are what's important to me, not the statistics because I know what type of player I am. They didn't bring me here, give up two draft picks (first-round choices) and pay me a truckload of money not knowing what type of player I am."

With Chicago, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philadelphia still on their schedule, the Buccaneers have a tough road ahead, but do control their own destiny. They're currently on a three-game winning streak, and four more victories would earn them a playoff birth.

"All four teams that we have left -- with the exception of Chicago -- were in the playoffs last year," said Johnson. "But we've got three of the four games at home, so that's good for us. If we can build on last week's win and just play our type of football, which is Buc ball, I think that we'll advance into the playoffs. No matter what seed it is, if we get into the playoffs we're going to be a very tough team to compete against."

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