Frankfurt QB Akili Smith, a Buccaneer-allocated player, completed six of his 11 passes in his NFLEL debut
So far this spring, the best part of Europe for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is France.
Placekicker Todd France, one of 10 player allocated by the Buccaneers to the 2005 NFL Europe League, turned in an outstanding debut for the Hamburg Sea Devils as the league began its 13th season last weekend.
Actually, while it was the first game ever for the Sea Devils, the only new team in the NFLEL this year, it wasn't France's first work overseas. He previously played for the Rhein Fire in 2003, hitting on four of eight field goal tries. France had never had a day like this before, however.
In an exciting, 24-23 loss to the Cologne Centurions, France hit on five field goal tries, providing most of his team's points. He tied an NFL Europe record with the five three-pointers, hitting from distances of 54, 48, 38, 30 and 26 yards. Overall, France scored seventeen points, as he added an extra point and his 54-yarder, by NFLEL rules, was worth four points.
For his efforts, France was named the NFLEL Special Teams Player of the Week for the opening stanza. "I didn't think about the records too much until they were pointed out to me," said France. "I was thinking about losing a game we should have won. Hopefully, this loss doesn't come back to haunt us."
Despite Hamburg's loss, it was a very good opening weekend for most of the Buccaneers' 10 men overseas. Among the other standout performers loaned by Tampa Bay were Hamburg defensive tackle Delbert Cowsette, who came up with his first sack of the season, and Rhein Fire cornerback Blue Adams, who racked up three tackles and a pass defensed in a 24-14 loss to Amsterdam.
Seven of the Bucs' 10 allocated players were involved in Cologne's one-point win over Hamburg. Cowsette and Bryan Save were the Centurions' starting defensive tackles, though Save did not register any statistics. Safety Kalvin Pearson also started on the Cologne defense and pitched in with five tackles and a pass defensed. Guard Mitch White is on Cologne's roster but did not play due to injury.
France's Sea Devils also sported starting wide receiver Derek McCoy, who had three receptions for 22 yards, and reserve receiver Terrance Metcalf, who played but did not have a catch.
The final two Buccaneer allocates squared off in a rematch of last year's World Bowl title game, as the defending champion Frankfurt Galaxy visited the Berlin Thunder. This year, the Galaxy offense was led by the Bucs' Akili Smith, who started the game but eventually split time with the New York Jets' Kevin Eakin. Smith, who completed six of 11 passes for one touchdown and one interception, gave way to Eakin in the second quarter then came back in for most of the second half before Eakin directed the Galaxy's final series. Smith's best sequence came early in the fourth quarter, when he led a 70-yard touchdown drive by completing four of five passes for 61 yards.
Berlin's punter is the Bucs' Brian Simnjanovski, who wasn't called on very often as the Thunder offense racked up 432 yards of offense. Simnjanovski punted just once, and it sliced out of bounds after picking up just eight yards. He also served as the holder for all six of Berlin's successful placekicks.
Here's a look at how each of the Bucs' 10 NFLEL-allocated players fared in Week One of the 2005 season:
- CB Blue Adams, Rhein Fire…Registered three tackles and one pass defensed against Amsterdam. * DT Delbert Cowsette, Cologne Centurions…Registered one sack for seven-yard loss against Hamburg. * K Todd France, Hamburg Sea Devils…Connected on five field goals from distances of 54, 48, 38, 30, and 26 yards against Cologne, tying the NFL Europe League single-game record. * WR Derek McCoy, Hamburg Sea Devils…Caught three passes for 22 yards against Cologne. * WR Terrance Metcalf, Hamburg Sea Devils...Saw action against Cologne. * S Kalvin Pearson, Cologne Centurions…Recorded five tackles and one pass defensed against Hamburg. * DT Bryan Save, Cologne Centurions…Started against Hamburg. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Punted once for eight yards against Frankfurt. * QB Akili Smith, Frankfurt Galaxy…Completed 6 of 11 passes for 68 yards against Berlin. * G Mitch White, Cologne Centurions…Did not play against Hamburg.