QB Brad Johnson says the Bucs' game plan against Minnesota was their most basic of the season
Editor's Note: Brad Johnson and the Buccaneers received many standing ovations during their 41-14 home win over the Minnesota Vikings, which snapped a two-game losing streak. But the oddest might have occurred when the Bucs held a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. As they drove toward a third touchdown, Johnson's deep toss to Reidel Anthony fell incomplete, causing many fans to rise to their feet.
Everyone on the team noticed that. All season long, we've been trying to have plays where we go deep. Sometimes, we've had to throw check-downs because of coverages, and truthfully, we're more of an intermediate type of passing team. I threw a ball deep -- actually, I ended up throwing it into coverage; I shouldn't have thrown it -- and 65,000 people gave me a standing ovation.
I actually took a couple of bows at midfield. But I think people get caught up in the wrong thing. That's been a problem. Everybody wants to see a special trick play or a bomb and actually it's really a matter of executing certain plays on critical downs. During the course of the game, we didn't run very many plays. We ran slants and screens, threw a few check-downs, and ended up having one of our better passing days, and also one of our better running days.
The preparation from the coaches was pretty much straightforward. They told us, 'We don't need trick plays; we don't need to change our philosophy. What we need to is block better, tackle better, be in the right position at the right time and make plays.'
We hadn't done that up to that point.
Everybody gets caught up in calling our offense a conservative offense. I beg to differ. We just needed to be more consistent as a team, so we could be capable of doing what we can do.
That was probably the simplest game plan we've ever had. Really, we just made the plays work. This was actually the first game we got a running game going; we were the No. 30 running team in the league and a lot of that is due to being behind early in games. This week, we ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns, and a lot of that credit goes to the offensive line.
The offensive line heard a lot of criticism from the outside after the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it wasn't all justified. Pittsburgh's done that to a lot of people. Actually, we got behind in the game and had to go into a passing frenzy, and it played into the hands of their pass rush. A lot of the blame went on the offensive line when it really shouldn't have. Obviously, our whole organization was embarrassed. It was one game where we felt like we let it slip away.
The fans booed during that loss to the Steelers, but, fans are going to be fans. They're going to cheer when things are good and they're going to boo when things are bad. I really think that if you're not within the team, that you'll have a great understanding of what's trying to be accomplished.
I know that in Week 6, Jerome Bettis ran for a 46-yard touchdown, and everybody thought it was Warren Sapp's fault. Well, Warren actually had a perfect play on that play; it was someone else's fault. So football is an ultimate team game, and you need everyone to play great on every play.
We felt like we'd been close. We'd lost three games by a total of 14 points, had lost two games on the final play of the game, and we were very close to playing winning football. We just hadn't executed on certain plays and critical plays, and hadn't given ourselves a better chance to win. We're the No. 1 team as far as turnover ratio (Bucs rank third in the NFC at 6), which is an incredible stat to be 3-3. But with that stat and the players we have, we're going to have a chance to win every ballgame.
We're going to have to work through injuries to keep winning. Our team was banged up going into Minnesota, and is probably even more banged up going into Green Bay. It's a critical point where we have to circle the wagons, go up to Lambeau Field and win a game in a place where the Bucs haven't won in 12 years.
But with injuries, depth has the chance to shine, and that's why you try to pick your best 53 players coming out of the preseason. Some of these guys haven't been given the opportunity to play and to make plays when they've been in there. Obviously, running back Aaron Stecker and wide receiver Frank Murphy did a great job against the Vikings. Murphy did an unbelievable job of blocking, especially on a couple of those touchdowns. That's what we needed.
-- As told to Andrew Mason