QB Jared Allen, who first cut his teeth professionally in the Bucs' 2006 training camp, had a hand in Amsterdam's rise to first place in the NFLEL
The Amsterdam Admirals and Rhein Fire, currently standing 1-2 in the NFL Europe League standings after six weeks, could very well meet in World Bowl XIV on May 27.
The Admirals, however, are much more secure in that quest, and that's a direct result of the two times these teams have already met. After winning a 35-31 shootout of the previously-undefeated Fire at home last weekend, Amsterdam finished the regular-season sweep with a 30-21 decision in the rematch at Rhein on Saturday.
As a result, the Admirals are 5-1 with four games left to play and are 3-0 against the two teams with 4-2 records, the Fire and the Frankfurt Galaxy. The NFLEL sends the two teams with the best regular-season records directly into its championship game, the World Bowl. Rhein would currently get the second spot opposite Amsterdam thanks to its Week One win over the Galaxy.
Of course, even if Rhein is able to hold on to second place, it will still have to prove it can handle the Admirals, who have won five in a row since a 33-29 loss to the Berlin Thunder in Week One. On Saturday, the Fire actually out-gained the NFLEL's leading offense in total yards, 328 to 303, but suffered from three turnovers and an 82-yard kickoff return by Japanese national player Noriaki Kinoshita.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jared Allen got his second extensive dose of playing time this season for the winning Admirals, running the offense for the entire second quarter. He completed five of six passes for 43 yards, without a touchdown or interception, and led a 60-yard touchdown drive that gave the visitors a 21-14 lead they would never relinquish. Allen also took the Admirals down to the Rhein goal line on his next drive but fumbled as he tried to sneak it in from the one on first-and-goal in the final minute of the first half. That turnover temporarily kept the Fire in the game, but Amsterdam kicker Ryan Killeen, a Seattle Seahawks allocate, added three straight field goals in the second half to put the game away.
Buccaneer running back Jacque Lewis also helped keep the Fire in the game until the second half, making the most of his eight "touches." Though Lewis continues to back up starting running back Fredrick Jackson of the Buffalo Bills, he has been an integral part of the Fire's offense as a change-of-pace back. On Saturday, Lewis turned six carries into 37 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7. Lewis also caught two passes for 21 yards, and his 13-yard run early in the second quarter was a key play in the Fire's 67-yard touchdown drive that again tied the game at 14-14.
Another Buccaneer allocate saw his team get into the World Bowl race when Frankfurt beat Berlin, 18-17, on a last-second field goal on Saturday. Center Jason Nerys, who has not started yet this year but has played extensively behind center Charles Missant of the New York Jets, helped the Galaxy rush for 203 yards on 42 carries (4.8 avg.) and absorb just two sacks for nine yards.
Frankfurt rolled up 417 yards of offense and 25 first downs to Berlin's 197 and 10 but didn't secure the victory until Oakland Raiders kicker David Kimball made his fourth field goal of the day, a 25-yarder on the game's final play. Kimball missed from 49 and 47 yards during the game but also was good on kicks of 21, 35 and 39 before the game-winner. Frankfurt had to drive 83 yards in the game's final three minutes after failing on a two-point attempt to tie the game at 17-17 following Roger Robinson's fourth-quarter touchdown run.
Kimball's kicking counterpart on Berlin's sideline was Tampa Bay allocate Xavier Beitia. Beitia has made six of his eight field goal tries this season but was given just one opportunity on Saturday, nailing a 42-yarder in the third quarter that gave Berlin a 10-6 lead. Buccaneer players handle all the kicking for Berlin, as steady punter Brian Simnjanovski had another fine day for the Thunder on Saturday. Simnjanovski averaged 40.0 yards on five punts and dropped two inside the 20 without suffering a touchback. In fact, it was his punt downed at the Frankfurt nine-yard line that forced the Galaxy to drive the length of the field for the winning score.
The Thunder defense also features Buccaneer linebacker Jermaine Taylor, the team's leading tackler. Taylor didn't start on Saturday – he had opened the first five games at right outside linebacker – but he did contribute three tackles and a pass defensed, plus a stop on special teams.
The final Buccaneer-allocated player in action this past weekend is still looking for his first taste of NFLEL victory. The Hamburg Sea Devils and starting right guard Phil Bogle fell to 0-5-1 after losing to the 2-4 Cologne Centurions, 20-17, on Sunday.
Bogle helped the Sea Devil offense roll up 331 yards of offense in the losing cause, including 276 through the air. A trio of Hamburg quarterbacks – James Kilian (Kansas City Chiefs), Todd Mortensen (New England Patriots) and Brock Berlin (Miami Dolphins) – dropped back a total of 39 times but were sacked just once. That has been a calling card for the Sea Devil offensive line, which has surrendered just four sacks through six games.
Two other Buccaneers who were slated to play in the 2006 NFLEL season, wide receiver Jonathan Carter and defensive tackle Keith Wright, are currently out due to injuries. Here is a rundown of how the seven Bucs still in action fared this past weekend in Europe:
- QB Jared Allen, Amsterdam Admirals…Played second quarter of 30-21 win over Rhein, completing five of six passes for 43 yards, no TDs and no interceptions * Xavier Beitia, Berlin Thunder…Made his only field goal attempt from 42 yards against Frankfurt and added two PATs for a total of five points. * G Phil Bogle, Hamburg Sea Devils…Started at right guard for sixth consecutive week and helped Hamburg QBs throw 39 passes while absorbing only one sack. * RB Jacque Lewis, Rhein Fire…Gained 37 yards on just six carries and added two receptions for 21 yards in loss to Amsterdam…Tied the score at 7-7 in the first quarter with one-yard touchdown run. * C Jason Nerys, Frankfurt Galaxy…Saw action at center as a reserve and helped Galaxy rush for 203 yards on 42 carries (4.8 avg.) in win over Berlin. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Averaged 40.0 yards on five punts against Frankfurt, and continued to display fine situational punting with no touchbacks and two kicks dropped inside the 20. * LB Jermaine Taylor, Berlin Thunder…Did not start for first time but subbed in on defense and contributed three tackles and a pass defensed…Also made a stop on special teams.