QB Jared Allen tossed two touchdowns in just eight pass attempts on Saturday for the Amsterdam Admirals
The NFL Europe League offers one very important commodity to young players seeking to prove their worth to the National Football League: Playing time.
Some of the prospects allocated to the sister league in Europe get a lot of playing time, some get a little. It is incumbent upon all of those NFL hopefuls currently stationed overseas to make the most of whatever live game action they see.
And few made more out of less this past weekend than Tampa Bay Buccaneers allocate Jared Allen, a backup quarterback for the Amsterdam Admirals.
Playing behind the Seattle Seahawks' Gibran Hamdan, who is in his third season with the Admirals, Allen has not started any of his team's first four games and had thrown only three passes through the first three weeks of the season. However, he replaced Hamdan for three possessions during Amsterdam's thrilling, 38-31 win over Berlin on Saturday and, yes, made the most of his first real playing time.
Though he tossed only eight passes, Allen threw for 68 yards and two touchdowns, helping Green Bay wide receiver Chad Lucas set a league record with four touchdown receptions. Allen did throw his first interception but he directed scoring drives of 66 and 60 yards and converted a third-and-goal from the five early in the second quarter to tie the game at 14-14.
Allen is one of seven players allocated by the Buccaneers who are currently playing in the NFLEL's 2006 spring season, all of whom hope to use the Europe experience to launch lasting careers in the NFLEL. Many of the competitors in the NFL are young talents who will be fighting for jobs this summer in various NFL camps; Allen was an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic last year.
Allen and Hamdan combined for the four scoring passes to Lucas in leading Amsterdam to a 3-1 victory and a bit of vengeance for Berlin's 33-29 victory over the Admirals in the opening weekend. The win helped Amsterdam keep pace with the league-leading Rhein Fire, which stayed perfect with Saturday's 31-21 decision against the winless Hamburg Sea Devils.
Three Buccaneers took the loss against Allen's squad, as linebacker Jermaine Taylor, kicker Xavier Beitia and punter Brian Simnjanovski all play for Berlin. Those three had fine outings in a wild shootout that remained in doubt until Simnjanovski's onside kick attempt in the final minute failed.
Beitia made a 47-yard field goal with 42 seconds remaining in the game to pull Berlin within seven and keep the Thunder's hopes alive (he had previously missed from 34 yards out). Beitia also made four field goals in the game and finished with seven points.
In addition to that onside attempt, Simnjanovski also held for all of Beitia's kicks. That helped the punter stay busy in a game dominated by offense. He was only called on to punt twice, averaging 35.5 yards per kick and suffering no touchbacks.
The Berlin offense surrendered 452 yards of total offense to Amsterdam, but Taylor was busy as the starting right outside linebacker. One of the better overall defenders in the NFLEL this year, Taylor led all players with eight tackles and a pass defensed, and added a stop on special teams, his third in four games.
Buccaneers running back Jacque Lewis helped Rhein remain undefeated and, like Allen, continued to make the most of sometimes limited playing time. Lewis, who has been very successfully sharing carries in the Fire backfield with Buffalo's Fredrick Jackson, was good for a combined 131 yards on 15 touches in Saturday's win.
Jackson has started all of Rhein's games and was the team's leading rusher in Saturday's win with 79 yards on 20 carries. However, the speedy Lewis gained 47 yards on just nine carries, averaging 5.2 yards per tote, and scored the Fire's only rushing touchdown. He also caught four passes for 43 yards and returned two kickoffs for 41 yards.
Lewis tied Saturday's game at 7-7 in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown plunge. Early in the fourth period, his 22-yard run was the long-gainer in a 53-yard drive for Rhein that again tied the game, at 21 each. After Rhein's Ola Kimrin broke the deadlock with a 34-yard field goal two drives later, New England's Antwain Spann sealed the victory for the Fire with a 30-yard interception return off a Brock Berlin pass.
One of the seven Bucs in action felt defeat in that contest, as Phil Bogle started his fourth consecutive contest at right guard for the Sea Devils. For the third time in four weeks, Bogle and his linemates went an entire game without allowing a single sack of the Hamburg quarterbacks.
The final Buc competing in the NFLEL this weekend was Frankfurt's Jason Nerys, who has seen extensive playing time in recent weeks as a substitute behind the New York Jets' Charles Missant. Nerys played in Saturday's 21-14 win over the Cologne Centurions and helped the Galaxy rush for a massive 186 yards and one touchdown on 39 carries. Frankfurt quarterbacks Craig Ochs and Jeff Otis also were kept upright, as the Galaxy line allowed no sacks and helped Ochs throw the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Walter Young with 10 minutes left in the contest.
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…Subbed in for most of the second quarter of a victory over Berlin and completed five of eight passes for 68 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. * Xavier Beitia, Berlin Thunder…Scored seven points in tight, 38-31 loss to Amsterdam, making one of two field goal attempts and all four extra points. Hit 47-yard field goal in game's final minute and missed from 34 yards out earlier in the game. * G Phil Bogle, Hamburg Sea Devils…Started at right guard against Rhein and helped Hamburg allow zero sacks for the third time in four games. * RB Jacque Lewis, Rhein Fire…Rushed for 47 yards and one touchdown, with runs of 22 and 14 yards in win over Hamburg. Also caught four passes for 43 yards and returned two kickoffs for 41 yards. * C Jason Nerys, Frankfurt Galaxy…Subbed at center against Cologne, helping Galaxy rush for 186 yards. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder… Averaged 35.5 yards per punt on two kicks versus Amsterdam. * LB Jermaine Taylor, Berlin Thunder…Led Berlin defense against Amsterdam with eight tackles and a pass defensed. Also had one kick-coverage stop.