K Todd France hit from 54, 46 and 30 yards out against Berlin, but it wasn't enough for the Sea Devils
Delbert Cowsette, Kalvin Pearson, Bryan Save and Brian Simnjanovski control their own destinies. Todd France, Derek McCoy and Terrance Metcalf can still get in, with help. Blue Adams and Akili Smith have been eliminated.
That's true, more generally, of the five NFL Europe teams for which those nine Tampa Bay Buccaneer-allocated players toil. With the NFLEL regular-season schedule 80% complete, four Buccaneers know that they will playing in World Bowl XIII on June 11 if their teams win their last two games.
Simnjanovski's Berlin Thunder is in first place at 6-2 but was denied an early berth on Monday night when the Amsterdam Admirals beat the Cologne Centurions, for whom Cowsette, Pearson and Save play. Amsterdam and Cologne are tied for second at 5-3 while the Hamburg Sea Devils, who get big weekly contributions from France, McCoy and Metcalf, are still alive at 4-4. Any of the first three teams can claim one of the two World Bowl berths by winning out, in part because Cologne and Berlin play each other in Week 10.
Adams and Smith play for the 1-7 Rhein Fire and 3-5 Frankfurt Galaxy, respectively, two teams that have been eliminated from the race.
Unfortunately for France and Metcalf, the Bucs top two performers during the NFLEL's eighth week, their Sea Devils missed a chance to move into the thick of the race when they gave up a 17-14 lead in the second half and lost 27-17 to Berlin on Sunday. France, the league's top kicker this year, accounted for 11 of the Sea Devils' 17 points on three field goals (including a 54-yarder that was worth four points, by league rules) and one extra point. Metcalf had the other six points for Hamburg on a 29-yard pass from the Cincinnati Bengals' Casey Bramlet in the first quarter. Metcalf, who has started since the Sea Devils' leading receiver, Scott McCready, was lost to a knee injury in Week Six, finished with two catches for 42 yards.
France continued his remarkably good season overseas, providing more impressive game tape for the Buccaneer brass, which will put him in competition with Matt Bryant in training camp this summer. France's three field goals came from 54, 46 and 30 yards out, and his only miss was a 38-yarder that was blocked. On the season, France has made 22 of 29 attempts, plus all 14 extra point tries, for a league-best 82 points. He has now broken Scott Szeredy's NFLEL record for field goal attempts (27) and will soon pass Szeredy's marks for field goals made (23) and points scored (85).
McCoy also started for the Sea Devils in that game but did not record a reception, in part because the Berlin defense limited the home team to 231 total yards of offense. Simnjanovski handled the punting for the Thunder, averaging 20.5 yards on two kicks.
Cowsette, Pearson and Save would be in even better shape if Cologne had completed a comeback attempt against the Admirals in Amsterdam during a rare NFLEL Monday night game. Trailing 17-12 in the third quarter, the Centurions lined up for a 51-yard field goal try, which would have pulled them within one point if good. Instead, kicker Jimmy Kibble's attempt was blocked and returned 56 yards for a touchdown by Jeff Sanchez, a cornerback allocated by the Detroit Lions.
Amsterdam tacked on two more field goals to win by a 30-12 score that was far from representative of the competition. In fact, the Cologne defense, for which all three of the Buccaneer-allocated players start, held the Admirals to 286 yards of offense, including just 145 through the air. Pearson had one of his top outings of the spring as the starting strong safety, recording a team-high eight tackles, all solos, and adding a stop on special teams. Save added one tackle while Cowsette was not credited with a stop.
In the game pitting the two teams that have been eliminated, Smith's Galaxy beat Adams' Fire, 20-13. After sitting out the Galaxy's quarterback rotation in Weeks Six and Seven, Smith subbed in on Saturday and completed eight of 15 passes for 87 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. Smith played the entire second half and led one field goal drive as Frankfurt built a 20-3 lead.
Adams started at left corner for the Fire, as he has all season, and contributed two solo tackles and a pass defensed.
Here is a look at how each of the Bucs' 10 NFLEL-allocated players fared in Week Eight of the 2005 season (Cologne guard Mitch White has not played this year due to injury):
- CB Blue Adams, Rhein Fire…Registered two tackles and one pass defensed against Frankfurt. * DT Delbert Cowsette, Cologne Centurions…Started against Amsterdam. * K Todd France, Hamburg Sea Devils…Connected on field goals of 54, 46 and 30 yards against Berlin. * WR Derek McCoy, Hamburg Sea Devils…Saw action against Berlin. * WR Terrance Metcalf, Hamburg Sea Devils…Caught two passes for 42 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown against Berlin. * S Kalvin Pearson, Cologne Centurions…Led team with eight tackles against Amsterdam. * DT Bryan Save, Cologne Centurions…Recorded one tackle against Amsterdam. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Punted two times for 41 yards against Hamburg. * QB Akili Smith, Frankfurt Galaxy…Completed eight of 15 passes for 87 yards against Rhein. * G Mitch White, Cologne Centurions…Did not play against Amsterdam.