LB Barrett Ruud sacked QB Gus Frerotte on the third play of the game, but Frerotte rebounded to complete seven of nine first-half passes for 93 yards and a TD
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers crossed the Minnesota Vikings' 20-yard line twice in the first half, but twice settled for field goals. The Vikings entered the red zone just once, but came away with a touchdown.
That red zone efficiency proved to be the difference, as Minnesota held a 13-6 lead as the teams headed to their locker rooms at halftime in Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs' defense got off to a good start, forcing a quick three-and-out from the Vikings that included two sacks, one each by CB Ronde Barber and LB Barrett Ruud. The Tampa Bay offense wasn't able to get much going on its first possession either, turning the ball over on downs after electing to go for it on fourth-and-short at the Minnesota 37. RB Warrick Dunn was wrapped up for a loss on the play as the Bucs rolled the dice early in the game.
The Vikings got on the scoreboard first on their next possession, however, on a 43-yard field goal by K Ryan Longwell. RB Adrian Peterson got his first touches of the game on the drive, rushing three times for 18 yards as the Vikings took the early 3-0 lead with 6:53 to go in the first quarter.
The Bucs quickly evened the score on their next possession, driving 58 yards in nine plays. The offense looked to be angling for a touchdown instead of a field goal, but a costly 15-yard penalty late in the march moved the Bucs back. The Bucs instead settled for a 39-yard Matt Bryant field goal, tying it up at 3-3 with 2:48 left in the first.
The Vikings continued the back-and-forth scoring early in the second quarter, as Frerotte hit WR Bobby Wade on a three-yard touchdown pass with 13:33 left in the half. The eight-play, 76-yard drive was aided by roughing the passer and holding penalties on the Bucs, as the Vikings jumped back on top 10-3.
The Bucs came ever so close to answering with a touchdown of their own on their next drive, but a 10-play, 64-yard march stalled inside the Vikings' 10-yard line. Facing first-and-goal at the Vikings' three-yard line, the Bucs were unable to punch it in, losing five yards over the next three plays. Bryant's 26-yard field goal with 7:48 to play cut Minnesota's lead to 10-6.
The Vikings put more points on the board with under two minutes to play in the half on a 37-yard field goal by Longwell. The drive featured a couple of nice throws on slant patterns by QB Gus Frerotte and some outstanding moves from Peterson, and Minnesota extended its lead to 13-6 with 1:52 to play in the first half.
For the half, the Bucs outgained the Vikings 163 to 146, but the inability to cross the goal line proved to be frustrating. The Tampa Bay defense allowed Peterson to rush 13 times for 71 yards, while Garcia led the Bucs by going 12-of-15 for 136 yards. Frerotte threw just nine times, but completed seven passes for 73 yards and the one touchdown.
- The Bucs won the coin toss and elected to defer, so Minnesota chose to receive the opening kickoff. RB Maurice Hicks fielded K Matt Bryant's kickoff at the one and returned it to the Minnesota 27-yard line. On first down, QB Gus Frerotte dropped back to pass, but his throw intended for WR Bobby Wade was behind the intended target and fell incomplete. Frerotte couldn't find an open target on second down and after stepping up in the pocket, he was brought down for a one-yard sack by CB Ronde Barber. Facing third-and-11, the Vikings were shut down on a huge blitz up the middle, as LB Barrett Ruud came through untouched for an 11-yard sack of Frerotte. P Chris Kluwe came on to punt, and his 51-yard kick bounced out of bounds at the Tampa Bay 34-yard line. * On first down, QB Jeff Garcia rolled to his left on a play action pass and threw a beautiful pass to WR Michael Clayton that went for a gain of 20. RB Earnest Graham then took a carry up the middle on the next first down play and picked up three. RB Warrick Dunn took a handoff on second down and spun his way ahead for six more yards. On third-and-one, Dunn was stuffed by the Minnesota defensive line for no gain. Head Coach Jon Gruden elected to go for it on fourth-and-one at the Vikings' 37, but Dunn was wrapped up in the backfield for a loss, giving Minnesota the ball. * Frerotte mishandled the snap on first down and had to fall on the ball for a loss of one. Frerotte made up for it on second down, lofting a perfect pass down the right sideline that was caught by TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a gain of 23. RB Adrian Peterson got his first carry of the day on the next first down play, picking up five. On second-and-six at the Tampa Bay 34, Peterson took another handoff to the left and gained six more yards and another first down. Peterson took a pitch to the left for eight more yards, setting the Vikings up in the red zone at the Bucs' 20-yard line. A false start penalty moved the Vikings right back out of the red zone, however, setting up second-and-seven at the 25. Frerotte then hit Peterson on a swing pass that was sniffed out nicely as Peterson was forced out of bounds for a loss of three. On third-and-10, Peterson took another handoff up the middle but was held to a gain of just four, bringing the Vikings' field goal unit onto the field. K Ryan Longwell's 43-yard attempt was good, giving Minnesota the early 3-0 lead. * RB Clifton Smith fielded the ensuing kickoff and brought it out to the Bucs' 21-yard line. On first down, WR Antonio Bryant took a quick pass to the left and sprinted around the end for nine yards. Dunn moved the chains on second down, plowing up the middle for four yards. FB B.J. Askew then got his first touch in his return to action, catching a pass in the left flat for seven yards. On second-and-three, Garcia rolled right but had to throw it away incomplete after his receivers were all covered. Facing third-and-three, Garcia showed amazing creativity, rolling left under pressure, sidestepping a rusher and heading back to his right, then lofting a delicate pass down the sideline for Dunn that went for a gain of 36 all the way to the Minnesota 23. Dunn then ran up the middle for six yards before the Bucs used their first timeout of the half. Dunn then took a direct snap up the middle for a short gain, but a personal foul penalty moved the Bucs back 15 costly yards. Now facing third-and-17 at the 30, Dunn took a screen pass and made some nifty moves to pick up nine yards, but the Bucs were forced to try for a field goal on fourth down. Bryant's 39-yard try sailed through the uprights, evening the score at 3-3. * Hicks returned the kickoff to the Vikings' 24, where Frerotte and the offense took over. Peterson took a handoff up the middle on first down and picked up six yards. Peterson then moved the sticks on second down by barreling up the middle for five more yards. On the next play, Peterson looked to be stopped in the backfield, but spun away from Barber and escaped down the sideline for 22 yards, all the way to the Bucs' 43. Frerotte then hit WR Bernard Berrian for a 16-yard gain, and a roughing the passer penalty tacked on 15 more yards, setting the Vikings up at the Bucs' 13. RB Chester Taylor then took a handoff for a gain of one as the fist quarter drew to a close. On second-and-nine, Frerotte threw incomplete to the corner of the end zone, but a questionable holding penalty on the Bucs gave the Vikings a first-and-goal at the seven. Peterson plowed ahead for four yards on first down and was stuffed for a loss of one on second down. The Bucs then used their second timeout of the half. Facing third-and-goal at the four, Frerotte fired a quick pass to the right to Wade, who extended the ball over the goal line for a touchdown. The extra point made it 10-3 in favor of Minnesota. * WR Brian Clark fielded a short kickoff and returned it to the 28. On first down, Garcia hit Bryant on a slant pattern that went for a gain of 12, moving the chains. Garcia then hit TE Jerramy Stevens on a quick pass for five-yard pickup. The pair hooked up again on second down as Garcia threw an excellent pass on a seam route to Stevens that picked up 20 yards, moving the Bucs into Vikings' territory at the 35. Garcia continued to shine on the drive, finding Dunn for 11 more yards. Smith then got his first handoff of the game, dodging one defender on his way to an eight-yard gain as the Bucs moved into the red zone. On second-and-two, Garcia had to scramble to his left for a pickup of three, but a holding penalty on the Vikings set the Bucs up with first-and-goal at the seven. Garcia faked a handoff and rolled left, then came back to his right before throwing incomplete. A late hit by the Vikings, however, moved the Bucs halfway to the goal line and kept it on first down. Now at the three-yard line, Dunn took a handoff but was stopped for a loss of four, making it second-and-goal at the seven. Garcia was flushed from the pocket again on second down, running right before trying to hit Clayton near the goal line. The pass was just a bit behind the target, however, and fell incomplete. Facing third-and-goal, the Bucs tried a shovel pass up the middle to Smith that lost a yard. Bryant came on to attempt a 26-yard attempt, and the kick was good, cutting the Vikings' lead to 10-6. * Hicks returned Bryant's kickoff to the Minnesota 29. Peterson got the call on first down and ran ahead for five yards, but was stopped on second down for a gain of just two. Facing third-and-three, Frerotte hit Berrian on a slant that picked up 11 yards and a first down. Peterson was then swallowed up in the backfield on a run to the right for a loss of two. The Vikings then burned their first timeout of the half. On second-and-12 at the 45, Frerotte hit Shiancoe on another slant route for 18 more yards and another first down. Now in Bucs territory at the 43, the Vikings tried a reverse pass by WR Sidney Rice, but he overthrew everyone and the pass fell incomplete. Peterson then darted and stiff-armed his way to a nine-yard gain on second down. On third-and-one at the Bucs' 28, Peterson charged up the middle for three yards, moving the sticks once again. Frerotte was then flushed from the pocket up the middle and brought down by Ruud after picking up three yards. DE Kevin Carter burst up the middle on second down and brought Peterson down for a loss of two, setting up third-and-nine at the 24 as the clock wound down to the two-minute warning. On the third-down play, the Bucs defended a screen pass to Taylor well, as the play went for a gain of just four. With the clock running, the Bucs then burned their final timeout as the Vikings prepared to attempt a 38-yard field goal. The kick was good, making it 13-6 in favor of the Vikings. * Smith returned the kickoff to the Tampa Bay 32-yard line. Garcia found Stevens on first down for eight yards, then hurried the troops to the line before throwing incomplete for Dunn on second down. Facing third-and-two at the 40, Garcia fired a short pass to WR Ike Hilliard that was stopped for a loss of one as Minnesota used its second timeout to stop the clock with one minute to go. P Josh Bidwell came on to punt, and his boot bounced to a stop at the Vikings' 23. * Taylor took a first down handoff and was slammed down after a gain of six. Frerotte then fired wide of Wade incomplete, setting up third-and-four. Taylor then took a handoff straight ahead for three yards as the first half came to an end.