WR Jacquez Green is averaging a potent 22.7 yards per catch so far this season
Each week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' communications department prepares a lengthy release for distribution to local and national members of the media. The release previews the team's upcoming game and keeps an eye on team notes, stats and trends.
This comprehensive document is now available to the team's fans on Buccaneers.com. Each week, Buccaneers.com will post this release as a front-page story, sharing directly with the fans what used to be filtered through the media covering the team. The release for the New York Jets' September 24 visit to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Buccaneers follows below.
TAMPA BAY (3-0) RETURNS HOME FOR BATTLE OF UNBEATENS VS. THE JETS (3-0)
GAME INFORMATION Date: Sunday, September 24, 2000 Kickoff: 4:15 p.m. ET Site: Raymond James Stadium Records: Tampa Bay 3-0, New York Jets 3-0 TV: CBS; Play-By-Play: Greg Gumbel, Color: Phil Simms, Sideline: Armen Keteyian National Radio: Westwood One Sports (Dave Garrett, James Lofton) Bucs Radio: WQYK, Flagship station (99.5 FM, 1010 AM) Play-by-Play: Gene Deckerhoff, Color: Scot Brantley, Sideline: Tom Korun Spanish Radio: Mega 96.1 FM; Play-by-Play: Neil Fernandez, Color: Mike Chavez
QUICK STARTS Tampa Bay has now opened a season 3-0 for the third time in its 25-year history, including 1979 and 1997 when it opened with five straight wins. On both occasions, the Bucs made the playoffs, including an appearance in the 1979 NFC Championship Game.
BUCS' LAST GAME Bucs Win NFC Central Battle with 31-10 Win at Detroit
PONTIAC - In an early season battle of unbeatens, Tampa Bay won for just the second time in its last eight trips to Detroit with a 31-10 victory before 76,928 at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Bucs fell behind early as Jason Hanson booted a 38-yard field goal to open the game. WR Karl Williams, though, helped engineer the Bucs first scoring drive, returning a punt 42 yards to the Detroit 18-yard line. Tampa Bay then struck quickly on a quarterback keeper from QB Shaun King four plays later from six yards out. FB Mike Alstott followed, fighting his way into the end zone from four yards out late in the first quarter, and King found a wide-open OG Randall McDaniel for a two-yard score with time winding down in the second quarter. The score, the first of McDaniel's career, gave Tampa Bay a 21-3 lead. The Lions grabbed some momentum briefly as they cut the edge to 21-10 with a 50-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half. The tide began to change following halftime as Tampa Bay kept the ball for a 19-play field goal drive spanning nine and a half minutes. The Lions struggled offensively as the Bucs forced three second half turnovers, including an interception that led to a one-yard plunge by RB Warrick Dunn in the fourth quarter. The Bucs offense flourished in the red zone, finishing a perfect 5-5. QB Shaun King completed 18-of-30 passes for 211 yards with one TD and no INTs, including eight to WR Keyshawn Johnson. The Bucs defense allowed just 17 net yards rushing, tied for the third-best effort in team history and the special teams unit blocked one Lions punt and tipped another.
HEAD COACH TONY DUNGY'S COMMENTS On the win over the Lions:
"I thought our guys were ready for the challenge and stepped up. We controlled the tempo of the game, which is what you want to do especially on the road. We had a couple of little breakdowns on some things, but overall it was really a good performance and a team win all the way around."
TALE OF THE TAPE
Here is a look at how the Buccaneers and Jets match up based on their season statistics after three games (NFL ranking in parentheses):
|Tampa Bay||NY Jets|
|Total Offense||318.0 (13)||329.3 (10)|
|Rushing Offense||138.7 (5)||89.3 (22)|
|Passing Offense||179.3 (22)||240.0 (7)|
|Total Defense||228.7 (3)||286.0 (9)|
|Rushing Defense||73.7 (4)||80.7 (5)|
|Passing Defense||155.0 (3)||205.3 (16)|
BUCCANEERS-JETS SERIES NOTES
HEAD-TO-HEAD (Regular Season): The Jets lead the all-time series 6-1, including wins in each of the last four meetings. The last meeting was a 31-0 Jets victory in 1997 at New York. Tampa Bay's lone win in the series was a 41-21 victory in 1984 in Tampa. New York also owns victories in 1976 (34-0), 1982 (32-17), 1985 (62-28), 1990 (16-14) and 1991 (16-13).
- Bucs' longest winning streak: 1, 12/16/84 - Jets' longest winning streak: 4, 11/17/85-current - Bucs' home record: 1-1 - Jets' home record: 5-0
LAST MEETING: New York Jets 31, Tampa Bay 0 (12/14/97) The Buccaneers' worst Sunday of 1997 came at the hands of a Jets team desperate for a win to remain in the AFC playoff picture. Little went well for the Bucs who, despite a solid defensive unit that gave up just 234 yards and no scoring drives of over 24 yards, surrendered their highest point total of the year and scored their lowest. The Bucs actually turned in the first big play of the game when CB Anthony Parker intercepted QB Neil O'Donnell's first pass of the game, but Tampa Bay was unable to gain a first down following the turnover. With 1:05 remaining in the first quarter, the Jets struck first with a 32-yard field goal set up by a short Sean Landeta punt into a 22-mph wind. Landeta's next try was blocked by S Raymond Austin, but the Buccaneer defense thwarted New York's efforts to capitalize by shutting down RB Leon Johnson on a fourth-and-one run at the Bucs' 10. However, the Jets scored moments later when an on-target pass by QB Trent Dilfer bounced sideways out of WR Horace Copeland's hands into those of CB Otis Smith, who returned the pick 45 yards for a touchdown. That scenario was unfortunately repeated five minutes later when Smith jumped in front of another Dilfer offering and returned it 51 yards for another score. Any hopes for a second-half momentum switched vanished quickly when RB Leon Johnson returned the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.
SERIES HIGHLIGHTS: In the first ever meeting of the two franchises, New York came away with a 34-0 win (10/26/76)…QB Doug Williams threw for 204 yards in a 32-17 Jets win (12/12/82)…The Buccaneers rolled up 346 total yards in a 41-21 victory (12/16/84)…The Jets score the most points ever against Tampa Bay in a 62-28 win (11/17/85)…In the last week of the regular season, the Jets won in thrilling fashion at Tampa Stadium, beating the Bucs 16-14 (12/30/90)…Tampa Bay opened the season with a strong first-half offensive performance, racking up 177 yards, but New York won 16-13 (9/1/91)…Jets WR Keyshawn Johnson caught three passes for 22 yards in a 31-0 Jets win (12/14/97)..
When offensive coordinator Les Steckel arrived this past spring with a new offensive scheme, no one could have predicted the success it has brought in the first three games. Tampa Bay is ranked 13th in the league in total offense (318.0 ypg), including fifth in the NFL in rushing offense (138.7 ypg). Last season the Bucs offense ranked 28th in the league in total offense (265.9 ypg) in the final rankings. A look at the first three games this season versus the opening three contests a year ago shows some astounding strides. 48 more points, 237 more total yards, 219 more passing yards, six less sacks and much more. In fact, the Bucs have scored seven rushing touchdowns already after finding the end zone via the ground seven times in 16 games last season. Here is a comparison:
Bucs Offense After Three Games
|Kickoff Return Avg.||21.1||26.8|
One big reason for the offensive success has been the play of QB Shaun King. King has not thrown an interception in 75 passing attempts and boasts a quarterback rating of 94.6. In addition, the offensive line has done an excellent job of protecting King. Here is a look at King's numbers thus far compared to the team's quarterback play in the first three games a year ago:
|Trent Dilfer - 1999||Shaun King - 2000|
Another area that has shown phenomenal improvement is Tampa Bay's success inside the 20. The offense has been perfect in that regard, converting on all 11 of its chances (nine TDs, two field goals) in the first three games. In fact, Tampa Bay's nine touchdowns have been scored by six different players (Alstott-3, King-2, Anthony, Dunn, Johnson, McDaniel).
Looking for a reason why Tampa Bay raced off to a 3-0 start for just the third time in its 25-year history. Look no further then the Buccaneers swarming defense. The National Football League's proverbial wrecking crew, better known as the Buccaneers defense, continues to make headlines during the first three weeks of the 2000 NFL campaign. Buoyed by the inspired play of All-Pro DT Warren Sapp (5.5 sacks is tied for best in the NFL), LB Derrick Brooks (40 tackles), S John Lynch (11 tackles, one INT), playmaker CB Donnie Abraham (an NFL-leading three interceptions) and the emergence of CB Ronde Barber (3.5 sacks, fumble recovery for a TD), DE Marcus Jones (three sacks) and DT Anthony McFarland (10 tackles, 2.5 sacks), the Buccaneers are one of the most feared defensive units in the NFL, holding their first three opponents - New England, Chicago and Detroit - to an NFL-best 26 points.
For Tampa Bay, the success is predicated by the most suffocating defense line in the league. The Buccaneers, who have posted an NFL-leading 18 sacks, racked up seven last week in a 31-10 win over the Lions. The Bucs are on pace for an astounding 96 sacks, which would shatter the team mark of 44 set in 1997 and the NFL record of 72 by the Chicago Bears. The reigning NFL Defensive MVP, Sapp tied a career-high with three sacks against Detroit, tying for a NFL-high 5.5 sacks this season. The defensive front dominated the Lions in the trenches, limiting Detroit to 17 net yards rushing, tied for the third-best performance in franchise history (at Los Angeles Raiders, 12/19/93). The defense also held RB James Stewart to 13 yards on eight carries. In addition, the Buccaneers vaulted up the rankings from 16th overall in rushing defense to fourth this week, limiting opponents to an average of just 73.7 yards per contest. Since the loss to Oakland (12/19/99), Tampa Bay has now held opponents without a rushing touchdown in seven consecutive games, counting the playoffs.
As for the secondary, the Buccaneer defenders continued to play at a physical and tenacious style, which has rightfully placed them among the league's elite. The secondary, which held Detroit to just 2 of 12 (17%) on third conversion attempts, has limited opposing offenses to 7 of 39 (17.9%) on third down tries. Tampa Bay's secondary has held opponents to an average of 155 passing yards per contest and has snagged four interceptions.
In total, the opportunistic Buccaneers have forced eight turnovers, leading to 31 points and have a league-best plus-7 turnover margin after posting three takeaways on Sunday. All three turnovers were forced on successive drives in the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers' red zone defense has stifled opponents, not allowing a touchdown and just six points in three chances. As for the number six, that is the amount of points Tampa Bay has allowed their opponents to score in the second half this season. Tampa Bay is currently ranked among the league's top five in seven different defensive categories.
|Tampa Bay||NFL Ranking|
|Total Defense||228.7 ypg||3|
|Passing Yards Average||155 ypg||3|
|Rushing Yards Average||73.7 ypg||4|
|Rushing First Downs Allowed||7||1|
|Third Down Efficiency||7-39 (17.9%)||1|
Quarterbacks Second-year pro Shaun King is in his first full season as the starter after starting seven games last season, including two playoff contests. He is 7-1 as a starter in the regular season. Under a new offensive scheme, King has excelled in the Bucs' three wins. King has completed 40-of-75 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Eric Zeier is the backup QB and the Bucs also have Georgia Tech All-America QB Joe Hamilton.
Running Backs The tandem of FB Mike Alstott and RB Warrick Dunn combined for more than 1,500 yards on the ground last season, and the duo has wasted no time showing that they plan to better that in 2000. Each rushed for more than 50 yards in each of the first two games and Alstott added 68 yards last week at Detroit. Alstott already has a team-best four rushing scores and Dunn found the end zone on the ground for the first time since 1998 last week at Detroit. Rabih Abdullah and NFL Europe Offensive MVP Aaron Stecker have split time as Dunn's primary backup, with Stecker also serving as Tampa Bay's kickoff returner.
Wide Receivers Tampa Bay signed two-time Pro Bowl WR Keyshawn Johnson to an eight-year deal just before the draft and he has not disappointed. Johnson has caught 14 passes, including 12 for first downs, with one touchdown in the first three games. In four seasons with the Jets, Johnson corralled 305 passes, 31 for TDs. Jacquez Green has emerged as Tampa Bay's number two receiver and leads the Bucs with 227 yards receiving on 10 catches. Four of Green's receptions have been for 30-plus yards and he is on pace to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. Reidel Anthony (83 receptions over the last two seasons), Karl Williams (99 career catches) and Andre Hastings (226 career receptions with Pittsburgh and New Orleans) round out the receiving corps.
Tight Ends Dave Moore is the starter at tight end and his 17 career TD catches tie him for fifth on the Bucs' all-time list. Patrick Hape is in his fourth season with the club as a back-up TE and also sees action in the backfield as Alstott's backup. The Bucs added Blake Spence and Todd Yoder via free agency.
Offensive Line The Bucs have a new left side of the line in T Pete Pierson and 11-time Pro Bowler Randall McDaniel, who spent his previous 12 seasons with Minnesota, at LG. Fellow Viking Jeff Christy, a two-time Pro Bowler, is the new C. The right side remains intact with Frank Middleton at RG and Jerry Wunsch at RT. DeMarcus Curry also returns as a back-up tackle on the right side, with George Hegamin the back-up at left tackle. Todd Washington backs up Christy. Kevin Dogins and second-round pick Cosey Coleman are reserve guards. The line opened the 2000 season with a strong showing at New England, springing the running game to 140 yards and allowing just one quarterback sack. The unit followed that performance with another outstanding game versus Chicago, aiding a ground attack that gained 156 yards with two touchdowns. Last week at Detroit, the unit allowed no sacks and helped the offense gain 331 yards in total offense.
Defensive Line The defensive line is anchored by DT Warren Sapp who earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Associated Press last year. Sapp is tied for the NFL lead with 5.5 sacks in three games. DE Chidi Ahanotu had 6 1/2 sacks a year ago, while DE Steve White had one sack, one forced fumble and one INT in the playoffs. DE Marcus Jones, who has three sacks this year, has moved into a starting spot opposite Ahanotu. DT Anthony McFarland, who replaced Brad Culpepper, starts alongside Sapp after a productive rookie campaign. DT James Cannida, DE/DT Tyoka Jackson and DE John McLaughlin all provide solid depth on the line.
Linebackers Weak-side LB Derrick Brooks has paced the club with 40 tackles in three games. The three-time Pro Bowler earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after a 16-tackle performance at New England in Week One. Starting SLB Shelton Quarles is second on the team with 22 tackles and third-year pro Jamie Duncan moves into the starting MLB slot, vacated by Hardy Nickerson. Third-round pick Nate Webster, who impressed the coaching staff in the preseason, backs up Duncan. Tampa Bay re-signed Al Singleton, who blocked a punt in the win over Detroit. Special teams standout Jeff Gooch also serves in a back-up capacity.
Secondary The Bucs' secondary is ranked third in the NFL in pass defense (155.0 ypg). All-Pro SS John Lynch, moved into sole possession of seventh place on the club's all-time list with his 13th career interception at Detroit. FS Damien Robinson led the DBs in tackles last season with 95. LCB Donnie Abraham, who is off to a great start in 2000, leads the NFL with three interceptions thus far. Ronde Barber, who ranks tied for third in the NFC with 3.5 sacks, returned a fumble 24 yards for a score against Chicago while manning the right corner. Brian Kelly joins the unit in the nickel set. CB Floyd Young backs up Abraham. Second-year S Dexter Jackson suffered a left ankle sprain against Miami and has not played since. Sixth-round draft pick David Gibson serves as a backup at safety and is a top special teams player.
Special Teams Martin Gramatica, who set club records for single-season points (106) and FGs (27) a year ago, has made all 12 of his PATs and is 3-5 on field goals in 2000. P Mark Royals, who has averaged 41.1 yards per punt this year, ranked third in the NFC in gross average (43.1 to set a Bucs' single-season mark) and was second in net average (37.6) last season. WR Williams, who boasts a 12.1-yard career average on punt returns, returns kickoffs and punts, along with RB Stecker.
TAMPA BAY'S RECORD
Here is a look at the Bucs' record under head coach Tony Dungy in certain situations since 1996:
Buccaneers' Record When:
At Home…..24-9 Score first…..22-8 On the Road…..14-20 Opponent scores first…..16-21 Winning Coin Toss…..22-11 Score 21 points or more…..23-8 Losing Coin Toss…..16-18 Leading after third quarter…..27-2 100+ Rushing Yds…..32-8 Under 100 Rushing Yds…..6-21
WR Keyshawn Johnson played for the Jets between 1996-1999...Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was linebackers coach for the Jets in 1990...Jets QB Vinny Testaverde was the first selection in the 1987 draft by the Buccaneers and is the club's all-time leading passer with 2,160 yards...Jets CB Earthwind Moreland spent time in the Buccaneers 2000 training camp...TE Blake Spence saw action in 16 games over the last two seasons for the Jets...LB Don Davis was originally signed out of college by the Jets.
The Bucs remained relatively healthy following Sunday's win at Detroit. S David Gibson reaggravated his left foot strain and K Martin Gramatica bruised his left ribs. CB Donnie Abraham (right knee bruise) was also injured but returned to the game. S Dexter Jackson, who sprained his right ankle in the second preseason game against the Dolphins and has not played since, may play this week after returning to the practice field last week.
Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy is in his fifth season with the Bucs, boasting a franchise-best 38-29 regular-season mark (2-2 postseason). Last year the Bucs captured their first NFC Central Division title in 18 years with a franchise-best 11-5 mark. Tampa Bay won eight of its last nine games to secure the crown, aided by a club-record 7-1 home mark. The Bucs also advanced to their second-ever NFC Championship Game. Prior to an 8-8 campaign in 1998, Dungy guided Tampa Bay to a 10-6 record in 1997 and first playoff win since 1979. For his efforts, he was named Professional Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club. Dungy also won the Horrigan Award, given annually by the Pro Football Writers' Association to the NFL's most cooperative head coach. Dungy arrived in Tampa following 15 years as an NFL assistant, the last four as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He was the Chiefs' DBs coach from 1989-91 and spent the previous eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the last five as defensive coordinator. Dungy played two seasons for the Steelers as a DB before concluding his playing career with the San Francisco 49ers. He paced Pittsburgh with six interceptions in 1978 as the Steelers captured Super Bowl XIII, a 35-31 win over Dallas. Dungy, 45, is a 1976 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he played QB and earned a degree in business administration.
Al Groh, a veteran of 12 NFL seasons and two Super Bowls, was named the New York Jets' 12th full-time head coach on January 24, 2000. He is entering his first season as head coach and fourth season with the Jets having served as coach of the linebackers from 1997-99. Groh has worked in various capacities in the league, including defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for the New England Patriots from 1993-96. He worked with Jets director of football operations Bill Parcells for 13 years as an assistant. Groh was also head coach at Wake Forest from 1981-86, compiling a 26-40 record in the competitive ACC. Groh was a four-year letterman at Virginia as a defensive end and also earned letters in lacrosse.
Bucs Go For Home Record: The Bucs will attempt to set the franchise record for consecutive regular season home wins this Sunday. With its win over Chicago on September 10, Tampa Bay tied the franchise mark with its eighth consecutive regular season home win. Including last year's playoff win over Washington, the Bucs have won nine straight at Raymond James Stadium. In addition, Tampa Bay improved to 8-1 against the NFC Central at RJS, including a perfect 3-0 versus the Bears.
*You Say Red, I Say Green: * One area where the Bucs have shown great improvement on offense this season is in the red zone under new offensive coordinator Les Steckel (who calls it the Green Zone). In three games thus far, the Buccaneers are a perfect 11-11 inside the 20, including nine touchdowns for a scoring percentage of 100% and a touchdown rate of 81.8%. Last season Tampa Bay scored points on 34 of its 45 trips inside the red zone (75.6%), but only scored a touchdown on 15 of the 45 times (33.3%).
Offensive Explosion: The Bucs have set new standards for points scored with their success thus far this season. Tampa Bay has scored 93 points in the first three games, marking the best total to open a season and the best three-game stretch in club history. In addition, the Bucs put 62 points on the board in each of the last two games, the best back-to-back performance in team history. The Bucs are on pace to score 496 points, which would shatter the team record of 335 set in 1984.
Winning in the Trenches: Tampa Bay's offensive line, featuring three new starters, has shown remarkable continuity en route to leading the Buccaneers to their best start since 1997. The Buccaneers, ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing offense, have averaged 138.7 yards per contest and produced seven rushing touchdowns in just three games. That matches the number of rushing scores Tampa Bay posted last season in 16 games. In the 31-10 win over Detroit, Tampa Bay's offensive front paved the way for Buccaneer RBs to rush for 120 yards and two rushing TDs while not allowing a sack. Tampa Bay has vastly improved in its pass protection, allowing just three sacks this season. Last season, the Buccaneers allowed 11 sacks after the first three weeks. The Buccaneer offensive line also produced the only scoring reception in the win over the Lions, when G Randall McDaniel hauled in his first career TD on an acrobatic two-yard score after lining up as a blocking block for FB Mike Alstott in goal-line situations. Tampa Bay, currently ranked fourth in the NFL in time of possession, is averaging a gaudy 33:45 minutes per contest. The Buccaneers bettered their average, chewing up a total of 36:04 off the game clock, including 10:03 in the fourth quarter at Detroit.
First Down, Number 19: WR Keyshawn Johnson has made an immediate impact with the Bucs in his short time in Tampa. Johnson leads the team with 14 receptions with one TD and he ranks second on the team with 180 yards. Johnson has been the team's go-to-guy for first downs, with 12 of his 14 catches good enough to move the chains. His second catch against Chicago, above the coverage of Bears CB Thomas Smith, gave Johnson his first touchdown in a Bucs uniform on a 13-yard strike from King in the third quarter. Johnson's teams are also 13-4 over the last two-plus seasons in games when he scores a TD.
Donnie on the Spot: CB Donnie Abraham has found himself in the right place at the right time several times this season. Abraham, who leads the NFL with three interceptions, grabbed one interception at Detroit after picking off two tipped Cade McNown passes the week before versus Chicago. It marked the third time in his career (Atlanta, 11/21/99 and Minnesota, 12/6/99) that Abraham had two interceptions in a game. His first interception came when McNown's second quarter pass was tipped by DE Steve White and into Abraham's hands. The turnover led to a 23-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica. The second pick bounced off the hands of Bears RB James Allen and Abraham was waiting to return it to the four-yard line. QB Shaun King found the end zone three plays later to give the Bucs a 13-0 lead. Abraham led the Bucs with seven interceptions a year ago.
You Are in Good Hands with Alstott: FB Mike Alstott, who missed the Bucs' first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, has not missed a beat in the first three games. Alstott has rushed for more than 50 yards in all three games, including 68 yards on 21 carries at Detroit. In Week Two versus Chicago, he gained a team-high 71 yards on 15 carries (4.7 avg.), including a 20-yard score in the fourth quarter. He has also scored at least one touchdown in each game and is on pace to smash his mark of seven rushing touchdowns last season. For the year, Alstott ranks first on the team in rushing attempts (52), yards (193), rushing TDs (4) and points (24). More importantly, Alstott has done a great job protecting the football, with no fumbles in 55 touches (52 rushes, 3 receptions). In his career, the Bucs are 27-4 in the regular season when Alstott scores a touchdown. Alstott ranks third in the NFC in scoring (24 points) and fifth in first downs (16).
Dunn Back in the End Zone: RB Warrick Dunn, who rushed for 616 yards a year ago, is on pace to better that performance in 2000. Dunn ranks second on the squad with 143 rushing yards on 40 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run last Sunday at Detroit. The touchdown marked Dunn's first score on the ground since Week 8 of the 1998 season against Minnesota (11/1/98). He opened the 2000 season by leading the Bucs with 56 yards on 16 carries at New England. Dunn pulled his right trapezoid during a nine-yard second-quarter run, but he missed just one series and still gained 29 yards in the second half.
Green Means Go: WR Jacquez Green, a third-year pro from Florida, has become the big play receiver for Tampa Bay. Green leads the club with 227 receiving yards (on 10 receptions) and an astounding 22.7 yards per catch average. He is on pace to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. In fact, four of his 10 receptions have gained 30 or more yards. Green recorded his third career 100-yard receiving game against Chicago with five catches for 104 yards (20.8 avg.), including a 58-yard touchdown. He followed up that performance with a three-catch, 56-yard day at Detroit. Green is currently 10th in the NFC in receiving yards with 227.
Prime Target: In his first three games as a Buccaneer, he has helped anchor a Bucs offensive line with three new starters. He was instrumental in punishing the Lions defensive front, helping Tampa Bay rush for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Detroit. But not since his days of starting out as a TE at Arizona State did he ever dream of catching a touchdown pass. After hauling in the Bucs lone scoring reception for a touchdown against the Lions, those dreams have become a reality. McDaniel, who has lined up at G and a blocking back in front of FB Mike Alstott, raced into the flat, corralling an acrobatic two-yard reception for the score. "I'm just fortunate they've got enough confidence to throw the ball to me," said McDaniel, a former TE who was switched to the G position during his freshman year at Arizona State.
Surging Sapp: DT Warren Sapp, who is coming off his best season as a pro after earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, may just surpass that success this season. After three games, Sapp is already tied for the NFL lead with 5.5 sacks. He matched his career high with three sacks at Detroit. Last season Sapp racked up a career-best 12½ sacks, just shy of Lee Roy Selmon's club record (13).
Lynch-Mob: The leader of the Buccaneers' secondary, S John Lynch, stifled any hopes of a Detroit comeback with a fourth quarter interception off QB Charlie Batch. Lynch corralled Batch's offering and raced back 36 yards to the Detroit 37-yard line. Lynch's interception, which moved him past S Mark Robinson and CB Jeris White for seventh place on the Bucs' all-time list with 13, set up RB Warrick Dunn's one yard touchdown run. The interception marked the first time Batch has thrown a pick against the Bucs. He threw his second one later in the fourth quarter when CB Donnie Abraham recorded his NFL-leading third interception of the year.
Mac Attack: In just his third career NFL start, DT Anthony McFarland clearly exhibited why the Buccaneers' coaching staff inserted him in the starting lineup. A second year player out of LSU, McFarland racked up 2.5 sacks and four tackles in the 31-10 win over the Lions. A force in the middle, McFarland posted sacks on successive plays that knocked the Lions out of field goal range in the third quarter. With the Lions on the Tampa Bay 33-yard line, McFarland registered a five-yard sack. He then teamed up with DE Chidi Ahanotu for a 13-yard loss, forcing P John Jett to punt. "Anthony's playing well," said head coach Tony Dungy. "He has been playing the run very well for us and doing a good job on the details. He has been close on some rushes in the past couple of games. To get 2.5 sacks and really get a chance to rush in a game like that on turf - that shows why we're so high on him."
This Barber of C-Ville: Fourth-year CB Ronde Barber, who produced the finest game of his career en route to being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week in the win over Chicago, continued his exploits with a stellar performance in the 31-10 victory over Detroit. Barber recorded two tackles, broke up a pass and partially blocked a punt by John Jett, setting up FB Mike Alstott's four-yard TD run six plays later. Barber was then involved again on a second quarter, recovering a punt that was blocked by LB Al Singleton. Overall, Barber's early season totals include 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks for 33.5 yards, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a score.
Devious Derrick: Recognized as one of the league's finest linebackers, Derrick Brooks has seemingly been involved in every offensive play by Bucs opponents thus far. Brooks, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a 16-tackle performance at New England, led the defense for the third straight week with 11 tackles at Detroit and also forced a fumble. He now boasts a team-leading total of 40 stops in three games. Last season Brooks paced the Bucs in tackles in 12 of 16 contests en route to his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection.