WR Joe Jurevicius scored his first two touchdowns since the 2003 opener as the Buccaneers opened a 21-0 halftime lead
When you're 3-6, you're going to hear plenty about your supposed deficiencies. On Sunday morning, one local paper suggested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed to get off to quicker starts in their games. Another raised the issue of involving WR Joe Jurevicius in the offense more.
Well, the Bucs obliged on both accounts and rode the results to a dominating 35-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Of course, it was an old Buccaneer standby, a unit that rarely draws lasting criticism, that really carried Tampa Bay to its fourth victory of the season. In its most oppressive outing of the season, the Buccaneers' defense limited San Francisco to 197 yards of total offense, most of it in garbage time with the Bucs laying back and playing second-teamers.
In fact, the 49ers gained only 26 yards and one first down by halftime. Each of their first six drives ended in either a three-and-out or a turnover, and the seventh only moved the chains once on a third-down roughing-the-passer penalty that looked like a borderline call. After the Bucs scored their third touchdown of the half, the 49ers offense earned its first first down on a meaningless, 14-yard run by third-string back Maurice Hicks. San Francisco had only six net passing yards in the first half, tied for the seventh-best mark ever by a Buccaneer defense.
But more on those items needing improvement.
Quick start? The Bucs scored three minutes into the game on a one-play drive, following the game's first turnover. The team was economical in posting that first score, reaching the end zone thanks to one play on defense and one play on offense. First LB Derrick Brooks timed a first-down blitz perfectly, stunting around left tackle Kyle Kosier and hitting QB Tim Rattay square in the back on the first play of San Francisco's second possession. Rattay fumbled and DT Chartric Darby recovered at the 49ers' 14, setting up Michael Pittman's touchdown run straight up the middle on the next play.
It was Pittman's fifth rushing touchdown of the season, and the sixth for Tampa Bay's offense in the last five games. Tampa Bay had no rushing touchdowns in its first five games of the season but has enjoyed something of a ground resurgence in recent weeks. Against the 49ers, the Bucs gained 159 yards on 35 carries, their best rushing totals of the season. Pittman recorded his third 100-yard game in the last four outings, picking up 106 yards on 21 carries. First-year man Earnest Graham added 27 yards on four totes and Alstott fought for 21 tough yards on seven carries.
And involving Jurevicius? How about five catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns?
After scoring on that one-play march, the Bucs' next drive lasted 14 plays but failed to produce any points. An apparent touchdown run by Mike Alstott was erased by an illegal procedure penalty, and QB Brian Griese threw an end-zone interception to S Tony Parrish two plays later. However, Tampa Bay's defense forced another immediate three-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense near midfield. Griese then drove the Bucs 57 yards on nine plays, finishing with a nine-yard scoring pass over the middle to Jurevicius on third-and-four.
It was the first touchdown for Jurevicius since the opening game of 2003, when he made two acrobatic scoring catches in the Bucs' win at Philadelphia. Since, he has battled serious knee and back injuries, missing the first six games of 2004 and all but five games in 2003. After his first score, Jurevicius matched his touchdown output from that Eagles game (tying a career high) by catching a 42-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in the first half.
WR Joey Galloway, who missed six games with a torn groin muscle also worked more intricately into the Bucs' attack than he had all season, catching three passes for 33 yards. With all of those weapons – rookie sensation Michael Clayton also caught four passes for 66 yards - Griese had another strong outing. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, though didn't protect the ball quite as well as he had in previous weeks. His two interceptions matched his cumulative total from the last five games, and he also nearly gave the ball away on a fumbled snap in the second quarter. Still, Griese has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all six games he has played as a Buccaneer (five starts). His cumulative passer rating this season is 104.4.
Brooks's sack of Rattay, his first of the season, was one of five times Tampa Bay took down the beleaguered QB. The Bucs believed they could turn up the heat on the 49ers' young quarterback after getting five sacks of Michael Vick the week before, and Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin and Linebackers Coach Joe Barry exchanged a high-five on the sideline after Brooks's blitz. Rattay was on the run much of the day, forced into a series of desperation dumpoff passes that often fell incomplete. He completed just 15 of 31 throws for 147 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
Tampa Bay's defense, which came into the game ranked sixth in the league, had its big day despite facing the 11th-ranked passing attack with two key starters out of the lineup. Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland and free safety Jermaine Phillips were out with arm injuries (McFarland's season-ending), pushing Chidi Ahanotu and John Howell into those two spots, respectively. The Bucs didn't miss a beat, largely due to the inspired effort of their intact linebacking crew.
In addition to his early forced fumble, Brooks recorded six tackles and a sack for six yards. Ian Gold made eight tackles as well, including two stops from the one-yard line as San Francisco used two timeouts to try to score a touchdown in the last 10 seconds. Shelton Quarles added seven tackles and broke up a pass. Together, they held starting back Kevan Barlow to 30 yards on 14 carries.
Leading 21-0 at halftime, the Bucs threatened to turn it into a rout by driving 62 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the third quarter. Clayton made the big play on the drive, gaining 36 yards on a fly down the right side one play after a similar gain was overturned by offsetting pass interference penalties. Pittman finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
However, San Francisco followed with its first sustained drive of the game and managed to break up the shutout. Two first-down runs by Hicks helped sustain a drive that lasted 15 plays and gained 51 yards, though it finally stalled at the Bucs' 29 thanks in part to DT Jon Bradley's first career sack. K Todd Peterson, who had come up short on a 50-yard try in the second quarter, hit a 47-yard field goal to cut the Bucs' lead to 28-3.
San Francisco's momentum, such as it was, was short-lived. Second-year CB Torrie Cox, who has been playing an increasingly large role in the Bucs' nickel defense, intercepted a third-down pass intended for rookie WR Rashaun Woods and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown and a 35-3 Buccaneer lead with eight minutes to play. Cox's big play gave the Bucs their first defensive touchdown in five games and their third of the year. The other two belong to CB Ronde Barber on short fumble returns. (Barber, by the way, recorded one of the Bucs' five sacks, his second of the season and the 17th of his career.
The Bucs' defensive dominance might be best expressed in the final numbers of tight end Eric Johnson, who came into the game as the leading receiver in the NFC. After allowing consecutive 100-yard games to tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Alge Crumpler, the Bucs held Johnson to just one catch for nine yards.
With the win, the Bucs improve to 4-6 overall, with four wins in their last six outings. The 49ers drop to 1-9.
Notes: WR Tim Brown played in his 250th career game on Sunday. TE Ken Dilger also made his 150th career appearance, catching one pass for seven yards … By winning 35-3, the Buccaneers pushed their season-long point differential into the black. They have now scored 192 points and allowed 182. … QB Brian Griese is now 18-5 in his last 23 starts at home, spanning appearances with the Bucs, Dolphins and Broncos. He is 3-0 at home as a Buccaneer. … RB Michael Pittman, who scored the game's first points on a 14-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, then scored again in the third period, set new personal single-season highs with six rushing touchdowns and seven overall touchdowns in 2004. He previously reached five rushing touchdowns in 2001, his last year with the Arizona Cardinals and six overall touchdowns in 2000. … K Martin Gramatica was not called on to try a field goal in the Bucs' route but he was magnificent on kickoffs. After recording just one touchback on his kickoffs through the first nine game, Gramatica forced four touchbacks against San Francisco. Five of his six kickoffs went into the end zone, four of which didn't come out. P Josh Bidwell also boomed the ball, averaging 48.6 yards on five punts, including a season-long 60-yarder in the first quarter. It was San Francisco P Andy Lee who got off the biggest kick of the day, however, an 81-yard punt in the third quarter that went from his nine to the Bucs' 10. … S Dexter Jackson saw action in the Bucs' defense for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVII. Re-signed during the week after Jermaine Phillips's injury, Jackson subbed in at free safety in the fourth quarter and making four solo tackles. The Bucs played most of their second-team defense in the fourth quarter, as well as Chris Simms at quarterback and rookie Jeb Terry at guard. … DE Dewayne White, who combined with LB Jeff Gooch on a fourth-quarter sack, has now been involved in a sack in four consecutive games.
Injuries: Neither team reported an injury during the game.
Inactives: The Buccaneers named eight players inactive for Sunday night's game: Phillips, McFarland, Brad Johnson (designated third quarterback), WR Bill Schroeder, FB Greg Comella, T Anthony Davis, WR Charles Lee and DE Josh Savage
Quarter-by-Quarter Reports: During the game, Buccaneers.com provided updates of the action after each quarter. Those reviews of each period are below, providing a closer look at how the game unfolded.
First Quarter Review
The Buccaneers dominated the first quarter of play and took a 7-0 lead into the second period, though it could have been better. After scoring on a one-play possession following a turnover, Tampa Bay then marched 14 plays to the edge of the end zone only to turn the ball over themselves. The Bucs gained 95 yards and six first downs in the first quarter, while allowing only three yards and no first downs.
San Francisco won the toss but had to start at their own 20 when Martin Gramatica sent the opening kickoff deep into the end zone for a touchback.
The 49ers' first play of the day was a Kevan Barlow run up the middle, with LB Derrick Brooks making the stop after a four-yard gain. QB Tim Rattay tried to throw a short sideline pass to WR Brandon Lloyd on second down, but CB Ronde Barber leaped to bat it away.
On third down, good coverage allowed the rush to drive Rattay out of the pocket and, after Rattay narrowly got away from DE Simeon Rice, Spires hit him in the chest after he had scrambled for just two yards.
P Andy Lee followed with low, short kick, but WR Joey Galloway backtracked on his return and eventually lost yardage back to the Bucs' 33 while recovering his own fumble.
QB Brian Griese tried to throw on first down but found no one open and eventually threw the ball away as he scrambled right. After a two-yard run by RB Michael Pittman, Griese hit WR Joe Jurevicius in the left flat but the play came up three yards short of the first-down line and the Bucs had to punt. Josh Bidwell got off a huge, 60-yard punt, but it went into the end zone for a touchback.
San Francisco's second drive last all of one play. LB Derrick Brooks timed a blitz from the left side perfectly and hit Rattay square in the back, forcing a fumble that was recovered at the 49ers' 14 by DT Chartric Darby.
Tampa Bay's second drive also lasted one play, but for a better reason. On first down, Pittman ran up the middle, found a big hole and built up enough steam to bowl through two defenders into the end zone. That gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead with just over three minutes elapsed.
San Francisco's next drive started at their own 26 but didn't go far. Barlow got only one and three yards on his first two carries thanks to the presence of LB Shelton Quarles on both. On third-and-six, Rattay rolled right but never found a good target and eventually threw incomplete near WR Curtis Conway on the right sideline. Lee punted again and the ball went out of bounds at Tampa Bay's 37.
The Bucs gave it to Pittman on first down and he picked up nine yards by breaking away from a pileup near right tackle and cutting back to the left side. On second-and-one, FB Mike Alstott powered off left guard and picked up another five and a first down just into San Francisco territory.
An illegal shift cost Tampa Bay five yards before the next first down but got those yards back when San Francisco jumped offside. So it was first-and-10 again from the 49, at least for a few seconds until G Cosey Coleman was flagged 15 yards for a facemask foul.
Griese's first pass of the day to leading receiver Michael Clayton was good for a quick four yards, and the Bucs moved the chains on the next play. WR Joey Galloway ran a deep hook on the right sideline, grabbed a perfect pass from Griese and spun around one tackler to gain 22 yards and a first down at the 49ers' 38.
San Francisco brought a big blitz right up the middle on the next play, which meant a toss-sweep to Pittman was the perfect play, and it gained 12 yards. Alstott fought for two yards on first down and, after a timeout, Griese sidestepped an edge rush and threw a four-yard pass over the middle to Galloway. Galloway, who held on despite a hard tackle, was also the target on third-and-four, as Griese absorbed a big hit of his own as he delivered the seven-yard pass.
From the 49ers' 13, Alstott ran for two more and Griese hit TE Ken Dilger on a rollout pass on second down, getting seven yards to set up a third-and-one at the four. Alstott gave the Bucs a new set of downs by bouncing his third-down run around left end and getting two more into the arms of four 49er defenders.
Alstott also appeared to score on the next snap, but an illegal procedure penalty erased the run and made it first-and-goal at the seven. Pittman lost two yards on first down, and then it got worse. Griese faked a handoff and rolled right, only to throw the ball directly into the hands of S Tony Parrish. Parrish returned the interception out to the 49ers' 23.
San Francisco ran one play before the end of the quarter. Rattay barely got off a short pass to Barlow, who was dropped for a loss of one by CB Ronde Barber.
Second Quarter Review
The Bucs' domination only grew stronger in the second quarter. WR Joe Jurevicius scored on two touchdown catches and the Buccaneer defense allowed only two first downs, one on a third-down penalty and one on the last play of the half, a meaningless run. Tampa Bay went into the intermission with a 21-0 lead and an overall yardage edge of 239 to 26.
San Francisco faced a second-and-11 at their own 22 to start the second quarter, and got just one yard on a run by RB Kevan Barlow. Facing a fast rush on third-and-10, QB Tim Rattay got the ball off quickly on a very short pass to Barlow, but he was sandwiched by LB Ian Gold and Dewayne White after getting just four yards.
Andy Lee had to punt the ball twice thanks to a holding penalty and his second kick, another low bouncer, went out of bounds at the Bucs' 43.
QB Brian Griese stepped up to avoid the rush on first down, buying time for TE Ken Dilger to get wide open on the left sideline for a gain of 13 yards to San Francisco's 44.
RB Michael Pittman's sixth carry of the day, a run around left end, gained just two yards, and Griese's next pass was too low for WR Michael Clayton to scoop up. On third-and-eight, Griese fired a hard pass through traffic that Clayton snared for a gain of 14 and a first down at the 49ers' 28.
After Pittman's next carry lost a yard thanks to the alert play of DE John Engelberger, the Bucs gained another set of downs when WR Joe Jurevicius caught a short pass and stepped over one tackler for a gain of 14 yards down to the 15.
Pittman got another first-down carry from there and cut past a near tackle to gain four yards. Griese had to scramble on second down and got two more. On third-and-four from the nine, Griese took a short drop and fired a low pass between two defenders into the hands of Jurevicius, who had just crossed the goal line. Martin Gramatica's extra point gave the Bucs a 14-0 lead.
San Francisco got the kickoff back out to their 33, but wouldn't get much farther. Barlow's runs on first and second down lost two yards each, forcing Rattay to drop back on third-and-14. He enjoyed better protection this time but still had to settle for a short pass over the middle to RB Terry Jackson. LB Derrick Brooks stopped Jackson five yards short of the first down and the 49ers had to punt again.
The Bucs started again at their own 20 but got just two yards on Pittman's carry off left guard. On second down, Griese took the snap and immediately threw a screen pass down the line to Clayton. Clayton showed a burst of speed to get around the end and pick up 12 yards and a first down.
However, Griese's next pass went to the wrong team. For the second time in the game, Griese tried to find WR Joey Galloway and instead threw it directly to S Tony Parrish. Parrish returned his pick to the Bucs' 32.
Barlow got nothing up the middle, shunted off course by DT Jon Bradley and enveloped by DE Simeon Rice. Rattay then tried to throw a short crossing pass to WR Brandon Lloyd, but Lloyd tripped over umpire Carl Madsen just as the ball was on its way. On third-and-10, Rattay tried to hit WR Curtis Conway on a seam pass but the ball was well underthrown and nearly intercepted. The 49ers brought on Todd Peterson to try a 50-yard field goal, but it came up well short.
That gave the Bucs possession at their own 40, and Pittman got eight yards up the middle on first down. Pittman appeared to get the first down around left end on the next play but a block-in-the-back penalty erased it, leading to second-and-eight instead. It became third-and-15 when Griese absorbed a sack by DT Chris Cooper after holding the ball for a long time. RB Earnest Graham got the carry on third down and gained six yards before the Bucs punted away. Josh Bidwell's booming kick and immediate coverage forced San Francisco back to its 14.
Rattay tried to pass on first down, but DE Greg Spires pushed T Scott Gragg right into the quarterback's face, forcing an incompletion. Rattay faced pressure again on second down and eventually threw the ball away over TE Eric Johnson's head, bringing on the two-minute warning.
After the breaks, the Bucs seemed to kill the drive by getting to Rattay again and forcing a short incompletion. However, DT Chidi Ahanotu was flagged for roughing the passer and the 49ers got a new set of downs at their own 29. They didn't go much further. Rattay threw incomplete to Barlow, with the back juggling the ball nearly into Ronde Barber's hands. The Niners then tried to hand it to Barlow, but Brooks shot right up the middle to stop him for a loss of one. On third-and-11, Rattay was nearly sacked, then nearly intercepted when he threw up a wild pass that just eluded a diving Quarles.
Tampa Bay got the ball back with only 17 seconds to play, but that was enough time to score again. After an incompletion, Pittman ran for eight yards around right end. The Bucs then called a timeout with 34 seconds to play and Griese followed with a 12-yard strike to Jurevicius for a first down at the San Francisco 47.
An offside penalty gave the Bucs five yards. On the next play, Griese and Jurevicius hooked up again. The quarterback stood in as the pocket collapsed and threw deep over the middle to his receiver. Jurevicius caught the ball at the two and his momentum carried him through two defenders and just into the end zone for the score. Tampa Bay took a 21-0 lead, its biggest of the year at any point.
Gramatica's ensuing kickoff went out of the end zone for a touchback. The 49ers ran just one play, a 14-yard run by Maurice Hicks that more than doubled San Francisco's yardage for the half.
Third Quarter Review
The Buccaneers lost their shutout in the third quarter but extended their lead, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive before surrendering a field goal march. The result was a 28-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Bucs also had a 327-87 advantage in total yards and an 18-7 edge in first downs. Plus, they had the ball five yards into 49er territory as the quarter ended.
A short kickoff and 18-yard return by Earnest Graham put the Bucs at their own 38.
However, a two-yard run by Michael Pittman was followed by a fumbled snap on third down that lost a yard and set up third-and-11. WR Michael Clayton appeared to move the chains with an impressive catch on the right sideline, but the play was negated by offsetting pass interference calls.
As if in defiance, the Bucs ran what appeared to be the same play, or one very similar, with Clayton sprinting down the field and QB Brian Griese hitting him in stride. The result was a 36-yard gain down to San Francisco's 27.
Pittman followed with a six-yard burst off right tackle, then moved the chains with a tough, four-yard run up the middle. After a two-yard run by FB Mike Alstott, Griese faked a handoff and threw a pass to FB Jameel Cook, who turned it up the right sideline for a gain of nine. On first down from the six, Pittman took the handoff and cut right behind blocks by Mike Alstott and Matt Stinchcomb to prance easily into the end zone. His second touchdown of the game gave the Bucs a 28-0 lead.
Another Martin Gramatica touchback forced San Francisco to start at its own 20 again. On first down, QB Tim Rattay threw a seven-yard pass to WR Brandon Lloyd, who had to go to the ground to make the catch. San Francisco then moved the chains with RB Kevan Barlow's six-yard run up the middle.
LB Shelton Quarles's blitz on the next play resulted in an errant pass that was nearly intercepted by DE Simeon Rice, who had dropped into coverage. However, Barlow got seven yards on his next run and Rattay was able to scramble for a first down on third-and-three.
Two more plays to Barlow, a screen pass and a run up the middle, gained 13 more yards and a first down at the Bucs' 43. After a near sack forced a pass just out of TE Eric Johnson's reach, RB Maurice Hicks changed directions after a deep handoff and made it around right end for a gain of 13.
On first down from the Bucs' 30, Rattay threw over the middle to WR Cedrick Wilson, who gained eight yards. Hicks dove over the middle for a first down on the next play, landing at the Bucs' 18. However, Lloyd was flagged for offensive pass interference trying to make a catch in the end zone and Rattay was sacked by DT Jon Bradley on second down. On third-and-20, Rattay scrambled away from pressure and held on as long as he could but eventually had to throw it away as DE Greg Spires arrived to lay a hit.
The 49ers thus settled for Todd Peterson's 47-yard field goal try, and the kicker hit it to break up the shutout, making the score 28-3 with two minutes to play in the third quarter.
Starting again at their own 32, the Bucs put the ball on the ground to chew up the clock. Pittman ran for three yards on first down and 13 yards on third-and-four, resulting in a first down at the 49ers' 49.
Alstott got the next carry, bashing up the middle for a gain of four tough yards. That play brought the third quarter to an end.
Fourth Quarter Review
If a 35-3 rout can have a dramatic ending, this one did. The Buccaneers kept San Francisco out of the end zone on two runs from the one-yard line in the final 10 seconds, preserving the 32-point winning edge, the fourth-largest in franchise history. Tampa Bay outgained San Francisco, 352 yards to 197, allowed only one third-down conversion in 12 attempts and even scored on defense in the final quarter. The Bucs improved to 4-6 on the season while the 49ers fell to 1-9.
The Bucs faced a second-and-five at the San Francisco 45 to start the fourth quarter and got into a third-and-one on FB Mike Alstott's run around right end. With virtually the entire San Francisco defense in the box, RB Michael Pittman tried to gain the yard up the middle but was stopped short by S Tony Parrish. Josh Bidwell's punt was fair caught at the 10.
San Francisco went back to its three-and-out ways on the ensuing drive. RB Kevan Barlow got five yards on first down but was stopped for no gain by LB Shelton Quarles on second-and-five. On third down, QB Tim Rattay dropped to pass but was sacked for a loss of six by DT Chidi Ahanotu.
San Francisco did manage to escape their field position hole, however, when Andy Lee blasted an 81-yard punt down to the Bucs' 10.
Pittman got eight yards up the middle on first down but QB Brian Griese's short pass to WR Joey Galloway landed at the receiver's feet. Pittman was then tripped up after a gain of just one trying to convert the third-and-two off right tackle. Bidwell punted and the Bucs' coverage team trapped Arnez Battle at the Niners' 35.
TE Eric Johnson, the NFC's leading receiver coming into the game, made his first reception of the contest to start the drive, a nine-yarder. Barlow then moved the chains with a three-yard run and got four yards on the following first down. After LB Derrick Brooks's blitz disrupted an attempted screen, Rattay tried to feed the ball to WR Rashaun Woods on a crossing route. Unfortunately for the Niners, CB Torrie Cox had perfect coverage and he cut in front of the receiver to intercept the pass on the run. Fifty-five yards later, without being touched, Cox was in the end zone with the Bucs' fifth touchdown of the game. Tampa Bay thus took a 35-3 lead with eight minutes to play.
Martin Gramatica booted another touchback, but RB Maurice Hicks gained 14 yards on first down with several nifty moves on a screen pass. From the 34, Hicks then picked up two yards off left guard, but Rattay was sacked by blitzing CB Ronde Barber on second down. On third-and-12, a collapsing pocket disrupted a short pass intended for RB Terry Jackson and San Francisco had to punt again.
Taking over at their own 22 with six minutes to play, the Bucs tossed the ball to RB Earnest Graham, who swept around right end for a gain of 13. Two more Graham runs, for four yards each, made it third-and-two at the Bucs' 43. QB Chris Simms, into the game on this drive, faked a handoff and tried to roll left, but he was sacked by DT Chris Cooper after tripping to the turf 10 yards deep.
San Francisco took over at its own 16, and with the Bucs' defense dropping way back, got 32 yards on a Woods reception on the left sideline. TE Kevin Ware then made a nine-yard grab and Hicks moved the sticks with a three yard run to the Bucs' 40.
Rattay was sacked on the next play, however, as DE Dewayne White and LB Jeff Gooch dropped him for a loss of six. That play brought on the two-minute warning, and after the break, the 49ers got another first down at the Bucs' 24 with a late-developing screen to Jackson.
A blitz on first down forced a throwaway by Rattay, but he found Hicks for nine yards on second down. On third-and-one from the Bucs' 15, Rattay threw a pass well over Hicks's head. The 49ers obviously elected to go for it on fourth-and-one. Rattay was nearly sacked, but he got off an impressive, sidearm throw to Hicks, who scrambled down to the one. San Francisco then called a timeout with 10 seconds remaining.
The first try was a Hicks run off right guard, but Gold shot through to stop him cold for no gain. The 49ers then called a timeout with one second left and tried Hicks off left guard, but Gold was again on the scene, denying the touchdown.