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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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End of the Road

Tampa Bay’s five-game road winning streak came to an end Sunday in San Francisco, where a rejuvenated 49ers attack piled up 458 yards of offense in a 24-7 victory


WR Keenan McCardell's 75-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was the Bucs' only score in San Francisco

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travels took them all the way to the West Coast on Sunday, for the first time in the regular season since 1999. There they found the end of the road, or at least their happy times on it.

The Buccaneers took a team-record five-game road winning streak into 3Com Park on Sunday but saw it all but extinguished by halftime. As with their last trip to the Pacific, a December 19, 1999 game at Oakland that ended in a 45-0 Tampa Bay loss, virtually everything went wrong for the Buccaneers in a 24-7 loss to San Francisco. The Bucs are now 1-9 all-time in San Francisco.

For the first time this season, Tampa Bay lost the turnover battle, and its four giveaways repeatedly short-circuited drives, wasting 326 total yards by the NFL's second-leading offense. The Bucs' fourth-ranked defense didn't fare nearly as well, surrendering 458 yards to a rejuvenated 49ers attack. Tampa Bay, which had allowed over 300 yards just once in its first five games, was touched for 306 by halftime.

The 49ers softened the Bucs up early with a powerful running game featuring the one-two punch of Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow. Hearst and Barlow combined for 110 rushing yards in the first half alone, and 192 of the 49ers' 212 by the end of the game. The 49ers became the first team to rush for over 200 yards against Tampa Bay since Chicago on December 18, 2000.

With the Bucs devoting more attention to the run, QB Jeff Garcia was able to gash the defense for a series of long gains, including WR Terrell Owens' 75-yard catch in the second quarter.

That score, which gave the 49ers a 21-7 lead that held late into the fourth quarter, was actually mostly a run by Owens, who weaved through five Buccaneer tacklers on his way to the end zone. However, Garcia and Owens repeatedly tried to hook up deep, with Owens dropping two touchdown passes and CB Dwight Smith knocking away a third. Still, Owens finished with 152 yards on six catches and Garcia completed 15 of 29 throws for 253 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

San Francisco scored almost immediately after the Bucs' first turnover, an interception on a Brad Johnson pass that bounced off RB Michael Pittman's chest and into the hands of CB Ahmed Plummer. Hearst ran four times for 21 yards on the drive, including a seven-yard touchdown.

The Bucs tied the game up later in the first quarter on the type of long passing play that is becoming more common in Tampa Bay's offense. This time, WR Keenan McCardell, who had a 74-yard touchdown catch two weeks ago against Indianapolis, scored on a 75-yard bomb that was perfectly thrown by QB Brad Johnson.

Johnson, however, wasn't as sharp on this afternoon as he has been on almost every game day in the last two seasons. Before being relieved by Shaun King for the final two minutes, Johnson completed 21 of 34 passes for 241 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Two of his picks came off deflected passes, but he also uncharacteristically missed open men on several occasions. He was intercepted three times in the same game for the first time since October 30, 2000, his final year with the Washington Redskins. In fact, Johnson hadn't thrown even two picks on the same day since September 29, 2002 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bucs gained just 68 yards on the ground, much of it coming on a meaningless last drive. RB Michael Pittman carried the ball just six times for 29 yards, but he did catch 10 passes for another 60. McCardell finished with 119 yards on three receptions.

After the Bucs tied the game, San Francisco immediately embarked on an 81-yard drive that finished on the first play of the second quarter, a 14-yard touchdown pass to WR Tai Streets. Hearst had the drive's two biggest plays, an 18-yard run and a 26-yard gain on a screen pass. The 49ers made it 21-7 seven minutes later on Owens' long run.

Neither team would score again until the closing minutes, when Owen Pochman tacked on a 27-yard field goal. The Bucs' last chance to get back in the game ended at the 4:26 mark, when LB Derrick Brooks was hit with a roughing-the-punter flag. That penalty preserved the drive that led to Pochman's field goal and also ran the clock down to the two-minute warning.

Ironically, the things that had been plaguing the Bucs through their first five weeks turned into strengths in San Francisco. Tampa Bay's six penalties tied for their lowest mark of the season, and they were generally strong on special teams. Pochman was forced into three missed field goals, one of which was blocked by DT Warren Sapp. The Bucs also returned kickoffs well and downed two punts inside the 20.

However, the Bucs had a tough time on defense, a fact exacerbated when CB Brian Kelly aggravated his chest injury early in the game. The Bucs also lost S John Lynch for most of the first half with a shoulder stinger and S John Howell for the second half with a concussion. Brooks led the team with nine tackles and CB Ronde Barber added five stops, one sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. DE Simeon Rice gave the Bucs one last shot to get back in the game in the fourth quarter with his second interception of the season. LB Julian Peterson's deflected-pass interception deep in the 49ers' end ended that threat.

The Bucs have still not lost consecutive games under Head Coach Jon Gruden, but they have also not won twice in a row in 2003. Last season, Tampa Bay didn't suffer its third loss of the season until December 1, thanks to winning streaks of five and four games in the first three months.

The 49ers dealt the Bucs' second-half comeback hopes an early blow when CB Mike Rumph picked off Brad Johnson's second pass of the third quarter and returned it to the Bucs' 39. However, kicker Owen Pochman missed for the third time in a row on his resulting field goal try and the Bucs gained a measure of momentum.

However, after driving well into San Francisco territory, the Bucs gave it away again on a Thomas Jones fumble.

The Bucs lost the turnover battle for the first time this season and only the ninth time in the last five years. They are now 4-5 in those games.

Notes: The Buccaneer defense has had at least one takeaway in 48 consecutive games, a streak that was extended against San Francisco by Ronde Barber's fumble recovery in the third quarter. That streak is the second longest in the NFL since 1983; the longest is Philadelphia's 71 from 1985-90. … Tampa Bay also pushed its streak of consecutive games with at least one sack to 66 games thanks to a play by Barber, who got his first sack of the year in the second quarter. The Bucs moved one game closer to the record in that category, established at 68 games by Dallas from 1976-80. … WR Keyshawn Johnson had one catch on the day, which moved him into a tie for fourth place on the Bucs' all-time list in that category with TE Jimmie Giles (279). … For the first time since 1990, the Bucs have recorded two completions of over 70 yards in the same season. It is the first time they have had two scoring passes of over 70 yards in the same season since 1981. … DT Warren Sapp's second-quarter block of Owen Pochman's 31-yard field goal try was the first blocked field goal by a Buccaneer since September 15, 2002. DT Chartric Darby blocked a field goal that day against Baltimore in a 25-0 Buccaneer victory.

Injury Updates: S John Lynch sustained a right shoulder stinger in the first quarter and he missed most of the first half before returning late in the second quarter. CB Brian Kelly aggravated his chest injury in the first half and did not return. S John Howell sustained a concussion and did not return. DE Simeon Rice incurred a bruised lower back in the fourth quarter.

Quarter Reports: During Sunday's game, provided game updates at the end of each quarter. Those updates follow to offer a closer look at the game's key plays.

First Quarter Update

The first quarter ended in a 7-7 tie, but San Francisco was inside Tampa Bay's red zone when the period came to a close. The Bucs set up San Francisco's opening score with a turnover, but evened the game on a long pass play. Both teams moved the ball well, the 49ers relying mostly on the ground game to pick up 118 yards and the Bucs picking up 92, all of it in the air.

The Buccaneers won the toss and Aaron Stecker took the opening kickoff at the Bucs' five and got it out to the 32.

The first play was a shallow out to Stecker, but S Tony Parrish was on the spot, tackling the back after a gain of just two. Brad Johnson's second pass hit RB Michael Pittman in the chest, but Pittman lost control of it as he started to turn and the ball bounced right to CB Ahmed Plummer for an interception at the Bucs' 38.

RB Garrison Hearst appeared to be stopped near the line on his first down carry but he was able to tunnel under the pile for a gain of six yards. Hearst broke another tackle on his next carry to push the ball down to the 26, earning San Francisco a first down. His third carry gained little, however, as S John Lynch stopped him up the middle after just two yards.

On second-and-eight from the Bucs' 24, QB Jeff Garcia was flushed out of the pocket by DE Greg Spires, but he threw on the run and hit WR Terrell Owens at the seven for a gain of 17 and a first down. Hearst scored on the next play, starting left then cutting back to the right and finding a seam to hit the end zone standing up.

Stecker started the next drive with another nice returning, getting out to the Bucs' 36. After an encroachment penalty gave Tampa Bay a free five yards, Stecker took a first-down pitch to the left and picked up two yards. DE Andre Carter nearly sacked Johnson on second-and-three, forcing an incompletion, but Johnson just got a third-down pass off to WR Keyshawn Johnson for four yards and a first down at the 47.

FB Jameel Cook was flagged for holding on the next play, making it first-and-20. Johnson had plenty of time to throw on the next play and got a pass off to K. Johnson over the middle, but CB Mike Rumph got a hand in to knock it away. A slow-developing screen to RB Michael Pittman lost two yards, and a third-down pass to the same back was good for just seven yards. Tom Tupa came in to punt and, after a false start penalty, got off a 39-yard kick that was well-covered.

San Francisco thus started again at its own 27 and pressure by DT Warren Sapp on first down forced a pass to Owens too low. On second-and-10, WR Kevan Barlow bashed up the middle for eight yards, but a delayed handoff to Barlow on third-and-two was stuffed by Lynch and LB Derrick Brooks. Bill LaFleur hit the resulting punt 44 yards and it was fair caught by Karl Williams at the Bucs' 21.

Pittman tried to get around left end on first down but was tracked down in the backfield by LB Julian Peterson for a loss of three. Pittman caught a left sideline pass on second down and picked up seven yards, though he was hit quickly by Rumph. On third-and-six, Johnson stood in as DE Sean Moran closed in and threw a deep pass to WR Keenan McCardell. The ball just snuck over the hand of S Zack Bronson and into McCardell's waiting arms. Behind the last 49er defender, McCardell easily ran it in for a 75-yard touchdown, the longest of his career.

The Bucs trapped return man Brandon Lloyd at the 19 on the ensuing kickoff, but Hearst got four yards on a first down carry and 18 yards on a second-down breakaway. After a false start penalty made it first-and-15 from the 49ers' 36, a well-blocked screen pass to Hearst was good for 26 yards down to the Bucs' 38.

The 49ers tried a draw to Barlow on first down, but Brooks and DE Simeon Rice read it well and Brooks got him after a gain of just one. However, Barlow ran hard around left end on second down and picked up 12 yards and a first down at the Bucs' 25. Barlow got eight more on the next play. On the last play of the first quarter, Barlow powered over right tackle or four yards and a first down.

Second Quarter Update

The 49ers had an explosive second quarter, scoring two touchdowns and opening up a 21-7 halftime lead. By the intermission, San Francisco already had 306 yards of offense, to the Bucs' 164. Most tellingly, the 49ers' edge in rushing yards was 117 to nine.

San Francisco needed just one play in the second quarter to get into the end zone. Facing a first-and-10 at the 14, QB Jeff Garcia threw a quick pass down the line to WR Tai Streets. Streets cut inside CB Dwight Smith and dove into the end zone for the score and a 14-7 San Francisco lead.

Almost disastrously, Aaron Stecker fumbled on the ensuing kickoff. However, the Bucs managed to cover the loose ball at their own 42. After a first-down incompletion, QB Brad Johnson held the ball too long on second down, eventually taking a sack from behind by DE Andre Carter. Johnson also fumbled the ball but C John Wade recovered, making it third-and-10. Johnson dropped a pass underneath to RB Michael Pittman, who broke one tackle and made several nice moves to get eight yards. Still, the Bucs had to punt and Tom Tupa's high kick deflected off CB Corey Ivy and went into the end zone for a touchback.

The 49ers started with a quick pass to WR Terrell Owens, with LB Derrick Brooks knocking him out of bounds after a gain of five. RB Kevan Barlow broke tackles in the middle again for a 12-yard run and a first down at the 37. On the next play, Garcia went deep down the right sideline to Owens and it was complete for a gain of 43 down to the Bucs' 20.

DT Anthony McFarland wrapped up Barlow on the next carry for no gain, and a well-timed blitz by Brooks on second down opened up a lane for DT Warren Sapp, who burst through to force a quick incompletion. Garcia was forced to scramble on third-and-10, and he came up three yards short. Owen Pochman came in to kick a 31-yard field goal, but Sapp blocked it to keep the score at 14-7.

The Bucs thus took over at their own 21. RB Thomas Jones got his first carry of the game and worked up the middle for a gain of three. The Bucs pulled several linemen to the left and tried a quick underneath handoff to FB Jameel Cook, but the 49ers were all over it, forcing a loss of one. Johnson had to drop a third-down pass off to Cook, which picked up just five and forced a punt. Tupa blasted a 47-yard punt that Jimmy Williams fair caught at the San Francisco 25.

Garcia's nine-yard out to Streets on first down bounced in low for an incompletion. However, the Niners scored on the next play on a fine individual effort by Owens. The receiver caught a short pass on the left sideline, avoided several tackles, hit the sideline and found room to run. One last cut inside Smith bought him an open lane to the end zone.

A holding penalty on the Bucs on the ensuing kickoff forced the visitors to start at their own nine.

Pittman split out wide on first down and caught a nine-yard pass on the left sideline. Play-action on second down gave Johnson time to find TE Todd Yoder on the left sideline for a gain of 12, and a lob to WR Karl Williams picked up 19 more on the next play. With a first down at their own 47, the Bucs tried another play-action, but DE Chidi Ahanotu was on to Johnson's rollout and he forced a throwaway.

Jones got four yards off left tackle on second down, just over midfield. On third-and-six, a short pass to Pittman got enough for a first down thanks to a pretty spin move just after the catch. After an incompletion on first down, Johnson hit TE Ken Dilger for five yards, setting up third-and-five. Johnson found nobody underneath and eventually threw a deep pass to WR Keenan McCardell that was well-covered and incomplete. The Bucs had to punt, and LB Dwayne Rudd made an acrobatic play to keep the ball out of the end zone and drop it at the one.

The 49ers tried another quick pass down the line to Owens on first down, but CB Tim Wansley wrapped him up after a gain of three. Garrison Hearst's three-yard run made it third-and-four and the Bucs called a timeout with 2:07 left in the half. The Bucs' plan to get the ball back was foiled, however, when the 49ers threw a deep pass and CB Brian Kelly was flagged for pass interference at the 49ers' 35.

A two-yard run by Hearst brought on the two-minute warning. After the break, the Bucs brought a big blitz and CB Ronde Barber dropped Garcia for a loss of seven yards. Tampa Bay called a timeout with the clock at 1:51 and San Francisco facing a third-and-15. The Bucs then forced a punt when Garcia threw on the run and incomplete in front of Streets.

Tampa Bay got the ball back at its own 24 after a 48-yard punt. First down featured an incompletion in Dilger's direction, and second down was a draw to Pittman that was good for four yards. Johnson's desperation deep pass to McCardell was incomplete on third down, and Tupa's 44-yard punt was returned 14 yards to the Niners' 42 by Williams.

With 38 seconds left, Garcia threw a short pass over the middle to Hearst, who was tackled after a three-yard gain by Brooks. The 49ers used their first time out with 32 seconds left in the half. A short pass to Streets picked up five more yards to the midfield stripe, with Ivy making a sure tackle. After another San Francisco time out with 25 seconds left, and a five-yard false start on Owens, Hearst stuck a dagger in the Bucs with an 18-yard run up the middle. The 49ers hurried up to spike the ball, killing the clock with nine seconds left.

A five-yard pass to Cedric Wilson put the ball at the Bucs' 32 with three seconds left. San Francisco ended the half with a 50-yard field goal try that Pochman pushed to the left.

Third Quarter Update

Neither team scored in the third period, which was marred by three turnovers, two by the visiting Buccaneers. However, San Francisco, already leading 21-7, had earned a first down at the Bucs' 29 when the period came to an end.

The 49ers got the opening kickoff, with return man Jimmy Williams making it out to the 24 before Jermaine Phillips' tackle.

The 49ers, who rushed for 117 yards in the first half, went straight to the ground but got just three yards on Garrison Hearst's carry off left tackle. QB Jeff Garcia was forced to scramble and was caught from behind by DE Simeon Rice after a gain of four on second down. Garcia's third-down pass to WR Tai Streets was incomplete, nearly intercepted.

Tim Wansley's 11-yard punt return put the Bucs at their own 25, and RB Michael Pittman dashed up the middle for 12 yards on the drive's first play. Pittman got nothing on his next carry, and a deep pass to WR Keenan McCardell was incomplete on second down. QB Brad Johnson tried to hit McCardell again on third down, but his pass went right to CB Mike Rumph for an interception.

Rumph's 12-yard return put San Francisco at the Bucs' 39. RB Kevan Barlow's first-down run was stopped after a gain of one by a diving Ryan Nece, and DE Simeon Rice thwarted Barlow's second-down run around left end, leading to a loss of one. On third-and-10, however, the 49ers picked up a blitz and Garcia used the time to find Streets at the Bucs' 24 for a first down.

Barlow got three yards on first down, and WR Terrell Owens couldn't haul in a touchdown pass in the right corner, setting up third-and-seven. Garcia's third-down pass was nearly intercepted by CB Ronde Barber, and Owen Pochman missed his third field goal of the afternoon, a 39-yard try he pushed right.

RB Aaron Stecker made a nice move on a first-down screen to avoid a loss and pick up three yards, and FB Jameel Cook got open for a 10-yard pass on second down. Johnson then hit yet another back on the next play, finding Pittman for 14 more yards down to the 49ers' 43.

On the next snap, Stecker started left but ran into a gaggle of 49ers, led by S Zack Bronson. However, Stecker got out of Bronson's arm tackle and swept back to the right side, getting around the corner for a gain of 12. On the next snap, Johnson found RB Thomas Jones for a gain of five, but Jones fumbled thanks to a hit by LB Jamie Winborn, who also picked up the loose ball and returned it to the San Francisco 33.

The 49ers put the ball on the ground after that and got carries of four and 17 yards by Hearst. Garcia sent Owens deep on first down from the Bucs' 46, but the pass was overthrown. On second down, DT Chartric Darby hit Garcia as he threw and Barber batted the pass away from Brandon Lloyd. A dumpoff to Hearst came up a yard short of the sticks thanks to a hard tackle by Wansley, but the 49ers chose to go for it on fourth down. That failed when Hearst fumbled and Ronde Barber caught the loose ball on one hop at the Bucs' 37.

A run by Pittman and a quick pass to the same man resulted in a pair of four-yard gains. On third-and-two, play action got Cook and TE Todd Yoder into the open, but Johnson's pass to Yoder was well out of reach and the Bucs had to punt.

From their own 23, the 49ers quickly gained a first down on a 16-yard pass to TE Jed Weaver. Barlow got around right end for a gain of 20 down to the Bucs' 42. A quick pass down the line to Owens was good for nine yards when the receiver got away from CB Dwight Smith with a stiff-arm. A three-yard run by FB Fred Beasley ended the quarter and gave San Francisco a first down at the Bucs' 29.

Fourth Quarter Update

The Bucs got no closer to the 49ers in the fourth quarter, as the home team's field goal was the only score of the period. San Francisco thus finished off a 24-7 victory that ended the Bucs' five-game road winning streak, a run dating back to last December. The loss also dropped the Bucs to 3-3 on the season as they continued their win-loss pattern into the sixth game of the year.

The 49ers opened the final period at the Bucs' 29. On first down, a well-executed blitz by LB Ryan Nece forced an incompletion. RB Kevan Barlow bashed off left tackle for six yards on second down, and QB Jeff Garcia ran around the right side for three more, coming up just short of a first down. The 49ers went for it on fourth-and-inches and Garcia easily moved the sticks with a plunge up the middle.

Barlow's first-down carry lost a yard thanks to DT Warren Sapp, and a pass into the end zone to WR Terrell Owens was dropped. On third-and-11, Garcia tried to throw a screen pass to RB Garrison Hearst but DE Simeon Rice intercepted it, returning the pick to the Bucs' 37.

QB Brad Johnson was sacked for a loss of seven yards by former Buccaneer Chidi Ahanotu on first down, but the Bucs got that back and more with a 40-yard pass to WR Keenan McCardell. McCardell made a fabulous grab, leaping to catch the ball and holding on while being hit by two 49ers.

With a first down at the 49ers' 30, Johnson found no open men and eventually scrambled to his right, picking up one yard. After a four-yard completion to FB Jameel Cook, the Bucs called a timeout on third-and-five. Disaster struck after the break. Johnson tried to hit McCardell on the left side, but LB Jamie Winborn leaped to tip it. The pass still got to McCardell, but the receiver was hit as he tried to juggle it in, and the deflection went right into LB Julian Peterson's hands. Peterson returned the interception 31 yards to the 49ers' 43.

The 49ers began to kill the clock by running the ball and got seven, eight, three and one yard-gains on four consecutive Hearst carries. The Bucs almost got to Garcia with a third-down blitz, but the quarterback got off a completion on the right sideline to WR Cedrick Wilson for a first down at the Bucs' 30.

Hearst lost a yard on first down thanks to LB Nate Webster's tackle, then CB Dwight Smith broke up an end zone pass intended for WR Terrell Owens. After Barlow got three yards around left end on third-and-11, the 49ers came out to try a field goal. However, after a delay-of-game penalty, the 49ers elected to punt instead. However, LB Derrick Brooks was flagged for roughing the kicker and the 49ers got a new set of downs at the Bucs' 18.

Three runs by Hearst got nine yards and set up a 27-yard field goal by Owen Pochman.

The Bucs got the ball back at their own 13 and brought in Shaun King at quarterback. King handed off to Pittman for a 12-yard gain up the middle, then scrambled himself for 12 more two plays later. After a nine-yard completion to Pittman and two incompletions, the Bucs went for it on fourth-and-one from their own 46, getting it on an 11-yard completion to TE Will Heller.

With the clock down to 35 seconds, the Bucs got four yards on a pass over the middle to McCardell, letting the clock run. On the next snap, King scrambled for six yards and a first down, calling a timeout with three seconds to play. The Bucs used that extra snap to throw an incompletion.

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