LB Alshermond Singleton has played regularly for the Bucs the last two years, but Sunday was his first career start
Are the Bucs beginning another second-half push? Read the weekly notes to see how the team's communications staff breaks it down
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 first 2000 Battle of the Bays (Packers at Bucs, November 12) follows below.
TAMPA BAY (5-4) LOOKS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT HOME WIN OVER GREEN BAY (4-5)
GAME INFORMATION Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 Kickoff: 4:15 p.m. ET Site: Raymond James Stadium Records: Tampa Bay 5-4, Green Bay 4-5 Television: Fox. Play-By-Play: Sam Rosen, Color: Bill Maas 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
LAST GAME Bucs Wins Third Road Game with 27-14 Victory at Atlanta
The Bucs' defense tied a season-high by forcing four turnovers and WR Keyshawn Johnson caught two touchdown passes as Tampa Bay won its third road game of the year with a 27-14 victory over Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. Tampa Bay's defense added four quarterback sacks and the special teams unit added a blocked punt and a successful fake punt. CB Donnie Abraham snagged the first of his two interceptions on the day, setting up TE Dave Moore's one-yard TD reception for a 7-0 lead. The defense knocked Falcons QB Chris Chandler out of the game after sacking him on three consecutive plays in the second quarter, leaving backup Danny Kanell to run the offense. The Bucs special teams helped extend the lead to 14-0 as John McLaughlin blocked a Dan Stryzinski punt midway through the second quarter, giving the Bucs offense the ball at the three-yard line. Two plays later, QB Shaun King found Johnson for his first score on a five-yard pass. The blocked punt was the sixth block (three punts, three FGs) of the season for the Bucs and marked the first block allowed by Atlanta since the 1992 season. The Falcons cut the lead to 14-7 after the break, but K Martin Gramatica hit a 51-yard field goal and Johnson added his second score for a 24-7 lead. Gramatica tacked on a 34-yarder with 4:27 remaining to put the game out of reach.
SACK RECORD IN JEOPARDY
The Tampa Bay defense, which leads the NFL with 41 sacks in just nine games this season, is closing in on the franchise record of 44 sacks in 1997. Here is a look at the top sack seasons in club history:
Year……….Sacks 1997……….44 1999……….43 1983……….42 2000……….41 1979……….40
Oct. 19 Detroit
SACK DIFFERENTIAL TOPS IN THE LEAGUE
Tampa Bay's defense has been racking up quarterback sacks at an alarming rate, but the offense has also done an excellent job of protecting QB Shaun King. The Bucs defense has notched an NFL-best 41 sacks, while the offensive line has allowed just 14 sacks. Tampa Bay's sack differential of plus-27 ranks tops in the league. A look at the top five teams in the league:
|Team||Sacks By||Sacks Allowed||Differential|
BUCS IN THE RANKINGS
Here is a look at where the Buccaneers rank in the team and individual rankings:
|Team Statistic||NFC Ranking||NFL Ranking|
|Total Offense (303.6 ypg)||10th||19th|
|Rushing Offense (117.4 ypg)||9th||17th|
|Passing Offense (186.1 ypg)||12th||21st|
|Total Defense (288.3 ypg)||4th||8th|
|Rushing Defense (100.8 ypg)||5th||11th|
|Passing Defense (187.6 ypg)||5th||8th|
|Turnover Margin (+5)||t2nd||t9th|
|Third Downs (37.7%)||10th||t17th|
|Third Down Defense (30.7%)||1st||1st|
|Red Zone Scoring Pct. (92.6%)||2nd||3rd|
|Red Zone TD Pct. (59.3%)||4th||6th|
|Opponent Red Zone TD Pct. (36.0%)||4th||6th|
|First Downs (160)||12th||21st|
|Opponent First Downs (151)||3rd||t7th|
|Individual Statistic||NFC Ranking||NFL Ranking|
|Scoring - Alstott (30 points)||t10th||----|
|Kicking - Gramatica (74 points)||3rd||5th|
|Passing - King (80.2 rating)||9th||----|
|Punting - Royals (44.7 avg.)||srd||----|
|Punt Returns - Williams (7.8 avg.)||2nd||----|
|Interceptions - Abraham (6)||t1st||t1st|
|Sacks – Sapp (10.5)||3rd||4th|
|Sacks – Jones (10.0)||4th||5th|
|Sacks - McFarland (6.5)||7th||----|
BUCCANEERS-PACKERS SERIES NOTES
HEAD-TO-HEAD (Regular Season): The Packers lead the all-time series 26-15-1, winning 13 of the last 16. The two teams have split the season series in each of the last two seasons, including a 24-22 at Raymond James Stadium in December of 1998 to snap a six-game series skid. The teams first met in 1977, a 13-0 Packers win in Tampa. The Bucs notched their first series wins in 1979, when they swept the Pack en route to the NFC Central title. After a 14-14 tie in the next encounter, Tampa Bay won three contests. The Bucs captured four consecutive wins from 1987-89. But the tide turned severely when Mike Holmgren took over the Green and Gold coaching reins in 1992. After getting thumped by the Bucs 31-3 in Holmgren's second game, the Packers have sported a 12-3 mark against Tampa Bay. That stretch included a 21-7 divisional playoff win at Lambeau Field in 1997. Now Holmgren is in Seattle and the Bucs are 1-1 since his departure.
· Bucs' longest winning streak: 4, 11/1/87-9/10/89 · Packers' longest winning streak: 6 (twice), most recent 9/1/96-9/13/98 · Bucs' home record: 9-11-1 · Packers' home record: 15-6 (3-2 in Milwaukee)
LAST MEETING: Tampa Bay 29, Green Bay 10 (12/26/99) - The Bucs responded with their most dominating performance of the season, bullying past the Packers 29-10 before 65,723 at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs dominated early, but couldn't get the ball in the end zone. QB Shaun King engineered a 70-yard march, and two Packers turnovers handed Tampa Bay short fields. Yet the Bucs could manage just three Martin Gramatica FGs (49, 28, 33), giving them a 9-0 lead. Packers QB Brett Favre then settled down, driving Green Bay to a 46-yard FG by Ryan Longwell. After Packers CB Tyrone Williams picked off King, Favre hit RB Dorsey Levens on a 20-yard screen pass and Green Bay had a 10-9 halftime lead. But Tampa Bay dominated the second half. S Damien Robinson, who had picked off Favre in the first half, recovered a Bill Schroeder fumble at the Packers 23. Five plays later, King connected with RB Warrick Dunn on an eight-yard TD toss and the Bucs took a 16-10 lead. FB Mike Alstott assumed control of the fourth quarter, scoring on runs of five and 17 yards, the second set up by Robinson's second INT. The Bucs defense snagged four turnovers and held the Packers to a season-low 12 rushing yards.
SERIES HIGHLIGHTS: Chester Marcol hits two FGs (40, 44) as Packers blank Bucs 13-0 (10/23/77)…Ricky Bell and Jerry Eckwood combine for 196 rushing yards as Bucs get first win over Packers, 21-10 (9/16/79)…Two teams battle to 14-14 tie, the lone tie in Tampa Bay history (10/12/80)…Only 19,856 brave a snowstorm at Lambeau to witness 21-0 Packers win…Green Bay outgains Bucs 512-65 as Steve Young is sacked five times…QB Vinny Testaverde completes club-record 22 of 25 passes (88 percent) as Tampa Bay rips Packers 31-3 (9/13/92)…WR Mark Carrier catches seven passes for 115 yards and one score…Michael Husted boots 47-yard FG in OT as Bucs win 13-10 at Tampa Stadium (12/10/95)…Brett Favre throws four TDs (three to TE Keith Jackson) as Pack rolls 34-3 in Tony Dungy's head-coaching debut (9/1/96)…DT Warren Sapp collects club-record three sacks, but Green Bay prevails 21-7 at Lambeau to advance to NFC title game (1/4/98).
CAREER STATISTICS VERSUS GREEN BAY:
FB Mike Alstott - 76 carries, 311 yards, 4 TDs; 8 catches, 51 yards RB Warrick Dunn - 85 carries, 320 yards, 1 TD; 24 catches, 162 yards, 2 TDs WR Jacquez Green - 5 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD CB Donnie Abraham - 44 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery DE Chidi Ahanotu - 46 tackles, 4 sacks LB Derrick Brooks - 112 tackles, 1 fumble recovery S John Lynch - 62 tackles, 1 interception DT Warren Sapp - 31 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble
CB Ronde Barber and Packers TE Tyrone Davis played together at Virginia… Packers OL coach Larry Beightol held the same position with the Bucs from 1987-88… Beightol and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin were on the N.Y. Jets staff in 1990… DT Santana Dotson played for the Bucs from 1992-95… Bucs assistant head coach Herman Edwards and Packers QB coach Mike McCarthy were on the Chiefs' staff together from 1993-94… DT Tyoka Jackson and Packers G Marco Rivera were teammates at Penn State… DE Marcus Jones played at North Carolina with Packers FB William Henderson… Bucs KR Aaron Stecker, a native of Green Bay, attended Western Illinois, as did Packers C Frank Winters and DE David Bowens… Packers CB Tyrone Williams attended Manatee High in Bradenton… Packers RB coach Kippy Brown coached Tampa Bay running backs in 1995… Packers player personnel assistant Vince Workman was a Bucs RB from 1993-94… Bucs T Jerry Wunsch is from Wausau and played at Wisconsin… Packers QB Danny Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy and the national championship at the University of Florida in 1996, where he played with Bucs WRs Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green… Packers LB Brian Williams and Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson played together at USC.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Here are a few things to keep an eye on this Sunday:
- Tampa Bay is tied for second in the NFC with a plus-five turnover ratio, while Green Bay is 12th (among 15 teams) in the conference with a minus-6 ratio. - The Bucs defense has held opponents to 187.6 net yards passing per game, while Green Bay has averaged 228.7 yards net passing per game. - Tampa Bay boasts an-NFL best 41 sacks (4.6 per game), while Green Bay has allowed 23 sacks (2.6 per game). - Tampa Bay has already blocked a club-record six kicks (three punts and three field goals), while Green Bay has yet to have a kick blocked this season.
OFFENSE BACK ON TRACK
After a blazing start in September, Tampa Bay's offense attack during a four-game losing streak until rebounding with wins in each of its last two games. Here is a comparison of Tampa Bay's offense in its five wins and its four losses:
|Category||Five Wins||Four Losses|
|Total Yards Per Game||326.8||274.6|
|Rushing Yards Per Game||138.8||90.8|
|Passing Yards Per Game||188.0||183.8|
|Third Down Conversions||28/65 - 43%||15/49 - 33%|
|Points off Turnovers||62||21|
A SPECIAL EFFORT
Nothing electrifies a team more than a signature big play. Tampa Bay's special teams unit has made its share of momentum-swinging plays that have deflated the opposition. After just nine games, the Bucs have blocked a club record six kicks (three punts and three field goals).
DE John McLaughlin was the latest to join the block brigade, busting through the middle to block Atlanta P Dan Stryzinski's punt on Sunday. That set up QB Shaun King's five-yard TD pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson just two plays later to give Tampa Bay a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. So what has been the secret to Tampa Bay's success?
"These guys have the ability to get the job done and are able to put themselves in the right position to make plays," said Bucs special teams coach Joe Marciano. Ironically, Marciano was the special teams coach for New Orleans in 1992 when his unit blocked a punt against Atlanta, the last time the Falcons had allowed a blocked punt prior to Sunday.
"If the other teams are perfect, you don't really have a chance," added Marciano. "If the team does have some breakdowns and they are not perfect, then you should be able to block some punts and field goals."
The Bucs have already done that at an alarming rate and have broken the team record with their six blocks. It was that impact play from McLaughlin, parlayed with an outstanding effort on kickoff coverage, that propelled Tampa Bay to its first road win since a 31-10 win at Detroit in Week 3. The Bucs' coverage unit held the Falcons to an 11.8-yard average on five kickoff returns, less than half of their 24.4-yard average entering the contest. In addition, PR Tim Dwight, who entered the game with 18 kickoff returns of more than 30 yards in his career, was limited to just three kickoff returns for 39 yards (13.0 avg.), with a long return of 22 yards in the second quarter. Overall, the Falcons were held to an average of just 10 yards per kickoff. As for Dwight, who is fourth in the NFC with a 12.4-yard punt return average, he was held to just an 8.3-yard average on four punt returns. LB Don Davis had three special teams tackles to fuel the solid coverage.
Tampa Bay's kick coverage has vastly improved over the last three weeks, improving from an average opponent drive start from the 28.5-yard line entering Week 8 to the 26.7-yard line after stifling Dwight. K Martin Gramatica kept the Falcons off balance by mixing up short and deep kickoffs.
Tampa Bay can now boast six blocked kicks this season (three FGs and three punts), the most blocks in a single season since the Buffalo Bills recorded six in 1996. The 1990 Kansas City Chiefs were the last club to block seven. Prior to this season, the Bucs had never blocked more than four combined punts and field goals in a season. The previous best was four, set in 1990 and 1997. If you include blocked extra points, the team record was five, set in 1978. Tampa Bay has scored 22 points following the blocks with two TDs, a pair of field goals and a safety.
FORCING THE ISSUE
The Tampa Bay defense has been making plays all season and that has continuously led to points. Last week at Atlanta the Bucs intercepted Atlanta's quarterbacks four times, including three picks in the first half as Tampa Bay took a 14-0 lead into intermission. CB Donnie Abraham intercepted QB Chris Chandler on Atlanta's second drive and the offense took advantage with a TE Dave Moore touchdown reception five plays later. The next two interceptions by the Bucs defense - another by Abraham and one by S Damien Robinson - failed to lead to points, but LB Jamie Duncan added his second interception of the year in the fourth quarter. That turnover led to a Martin Gramatica field goal.
Two weeks ago against Minnesota, the defense was responsible for 21 points, thanks to several big plays. DT Warren Sapp sacked QB Daunte Culpepper, forcing a fumble which was recovered by DE Marcus Jones. The play led to Shaun King's first touchdown pass. LB Derrick Brooks then found the end zone for the first time in his career when he returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Abraham then grabbed an interception in the fourth quarter and the offense followed with King's fourth touchdown pass of the game.
For the season, the Bucs have forced 21 turnovers leading to an NFL-best 83 points for an average of 9.2 points per game, a pace that would better last year's impressive numbers. A year ago the Bucs defense forced 31 turnovers, which led to 90 points for an average of 5.6 points per game. Over the last two games, Tampa Bay has forced seven turnovers leading to 31 points. Over the prior three games - against Washington, Minnesota and Detroit - Tampa Bay's defense had forced just three turnovers, leading to 14 points.
K Martin Gramatica is following a record-setting rookie season with an excellent sophomore campaign. Gramatica, a third-round selection out of Kansas State prior to last season, has converted on his last 10 field goal attempts, including two from 50-plus yards against Detroit two weeks ago. Last week at Atlanta, he added a 51-yarder to tie the club record with his third field goal of the season from 50 or more yards. Gramatica also hit three 50-yarders last season and prior to that, a Bucs kicker had accomplished the feat three times. For the year, he is 16-20 on field goals and a perfect 26-26 on PATs. Gramatica's success has not gone unnoticed as he was honored last week as the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October. He currently ranks third in the NFC with 74 points.
Against Detroit, Gramatica nailed a career-long 55-yarder in the fourth quarter, tying K Donald Igwebuike (55-yarder at Minnesota, 11/30/86) for the second-longest in club history (Michael Husted holds Bucs record with 57-yard FG at L.A. Raiders, 12/19/93). The kick was the longest field goal in the NFL this season. Gramatica is also one of just two kickers to nail two 50-yard FGs in a game this season, joining Cary Blanchard of Arizona. Gramatica became the lone kicker in the league to connect on two attempts of more than 50 yards in the same game twice over the past two seasons.
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 9-5 as a starter in the regular season. Under a new offensive scheme, King has completed 136-of-254 passes for 1,703 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, tied for fewest in the NFC. King, who has thrown seven touchdown passes over the last two games, has also rushed for three scores. 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. Dunn, who leads the Bucs with 443 yards, rushed for a team-high 89 yards against Minnesota. With a team-leading 77 yards at Atlanta, Dunn moved into third place on the club's all-time rushing chart. Alstott, who ranks second on the squad with 415 yards, already has a team-best five rushing scores. NFL Europe Offensive MVP Aaron Stecker has been Dunn's primary backup, while also serving as Tampa Bay's top kickoff returner. RB Rabih Abdullah, who has seen action on special teams in each of the last four games, is fourth on the squad with nine special teams tackles.
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 a team-best 41 passes, including 28 for first downs, with four touchdowns, also tops on the team. Johnson notched his first 100-yard receiving game as a Buccaneer two weeks against Minnesota and then followed that up by tying his career-high with two TDs last weekend at Atlanta. Jacquez Green, who hauled in his 100th career reception at Atlanta, has emerged as Tampa Bay's big-play receiver and leads the Bucs with 556 yards receiving on 31 catches. Green, who set a career-high with 11 catches (for 131 yards) at Minnesota, has a chance to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. Reidel Anthony is tied for second on the team with three TD receptions. Karl Williams (99 career catches) and veteran Andre Hastings (226 career receptions) round out the receiving corps.
Tight Ends In his eighth season with the club, Dave Moore is the starter at tight end. His 20 career TD catches rank fifth on the Bucs' all-time list and he has found the end zone in each of the last two games. 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 also added Todd Yoder, who made the team as a rookie free agent.
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. T George Hegamin has alternated with Pierson on the left side. Todd Washington backs up Christy. Kevin Dogins and second-round pick Cosey Coleman are reserve guards. The unit had an outstanding game versus Chicago, aiding a ground attack that gained 156 yards with two touchdowns. In Week Three at Detroit, the unit allowed no sacks and helped the offense gain 331 yards in total offense. Two weeks ago against Minnesota, the line paved the way for 413 yards in total offense, including 152 rushing, and gave up just one sack. The Bucs have allowed just 14 sacks after allowing 24 in the first nine games last season.
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, who is fourth in the NFL with 10.5 sacks this season, is closing in on the team record of 13 sacks by Lee Roy Selmon in 1977. DE Chidi Ahanotu has notched 34 tackles and 2.5 sacks thus far, while DE Steve White has 24 tackles and two sacks on the year. DE Marcus Jones, who ranks second on the squad with 10 sacks this year (fourth in the NFC), has moved into a starting spot opposite Ahanotu and established a club record with four sacks versus Detroit in Week 7. DT Anthony McFarland, who replaced Brad Culpepper, starts alongside Sapp and has totaled 6.5 sacks, seventh in the NFC. DT James Cannida, DE/DT Tyoka Jackson and DE John McLaughlin, who blocked a punt last week at Atlanta, all provide solid depth.
Linebackers Weak-side LB Derrick Brooks has paced the club with 103 tackles, leading or tying for the team lead in six of the first nine contests. The three-time Pro Bowler earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after a 16-tackle performance at New England in Week One and scored his first career touchdown on a 34-yard interception return for a score against Minnesota. Starting SLB Shelton Quarles has 39 tackles and third-year pro Jamie Duncan (fourth on team with 47 tackles) has moved 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 also has Al Singleton, who blocked a punt in the win over Detroit and made his first career start at Atlanta with a career-high 10 tackles. Special teams standout Jeff Gooch, who is tied for the team lead with 13 special teams stops, also serves in a back-up capacity, as does Don Davis (tied with Gooch with 13 special teams tackles).
Secondary All-Pro SS John Lynch, in his fifth year as a starter, ranks second on the squad with 65 tackles on the year. FS Damien Robinson has notched 49 tackles, third-best on the squad, and his three interceptions are second-best on the defense. LCB Donnie Abraham ranks tied for first in the NFL with a team-high six interceptions, including three in the last two games. Abraham also returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown at Minnesota and his 44 tackles is fifth-best on the squad. RCB Ronde Barber has made several big plays, including a fumble return for a score against Chicago and an interception return for a TD versus the Jets. Barber has added 5.5 quarterback sacks and he has notched 41 tackles, sixth-best on the squad. Brian Kelly joins the unit in the nickel set. CB Floyd Young backs up Abraham. Second-year S Dexter Jackson saw his first action of the year versus the Jets after suffering a left ankle sprain against Miami in the preseason. Sixth-round draft pick David Gibson serves as a backup at safety.
Special Teams K Martin Gramatica, who set club records for single-season points (106) and FGs (27) a year ago, has made all 26 of his PATs and is 16-20 on field goals in 2000. He has nailed 10 straight three-pointers, including a game-tying 42-yarder on the final play of regulation at Washington and three at Minnesota. He also booted a career-long 55-yarder (tops in the NFL this season) against Detroit and his three field goals of 50-plus yards this year ties the club's single-season record. His 74 points ranks third in the NFC and fifth in the NFL. P Mark Royals, who has averaged 44.7 yards per punt this year (second-best in the NFC), ranked third in the NFC in gross average (43.1 to set a Bucs' single-season mark) last season. WRs Hastings (10.0 avg.) and Williams (8.0 avg.) return punts, while RB Stecker is the Bucs' top kickoff returner with a 22.8 kickoff return average.
The Buccaneers, who did not endure any serious injuries last week at Atlanta, will welcome the return of starting SLB Shelton Quarles this week. Quarles, who missed the Atlanta game with a right groin strain, also sat out of the second half of the Minnesota game. S David Gibson (left quadriceps strain), DE Marcus Jones (tonsillitis), OG Frank Middleton (left elbow sprain) and DE Steve White (right ankle sprain) are also listed on the team's injury report.
Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy is in his fifth season with the Bucs, boasting a franchise-best 40-33 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.
Mike Sherman is in his first year at the helm in Green Bay, the 13th head coach in the team's history. Sherman, who has 21 years of coaching experience, had worked under Mike Holmgren for the previous three seasons - 1997 and 1998 in Green Bay (tight ends/assistant offensive line coach), and 1999 in Seattle (offensive coordinator). Sherman coached for eight bowl teams during 16 seasons in the college ranks prior to joining Green Bay in 1997. Sherman began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh in 1981-1982, and also had stints at Tulane (1983-84), Holy Cross (1985-88), Texas A&M (1989-93, 1995-96) and UCLA (1994).
Donnie on the Spot: CB Donnie Abraham has been around the football all season, and the last two games have been no different. Abraham, who ranks tied for first in the NFL with six interceptions this season, has three picks over the last two games. His two interceptions on consecutive drives last week at Atlanta tied a career-high and marked the second time this season (also vs. Chicago on Sept. 10) that he picked off two passes in the same game. Abraham needs one interception to tie his career-high of seven established last year.
The first interception came on Atlanta's second drive of the game and Abraham returned it 23 yards to the Falcons' 22-yard line. Tampa Bay's offense capitalized five plays later as QB Shaun King found TE Dave Moore for a one-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Bucs lead. Following the score, Atlanta marched into Tampa Bay territory. On first down at the 32-yard line, QB Chris Chandler was intercepted by Abraham again, grabbing his pass at the four-yard line and returning it 22 yards. Abraham's success against Atlanta should come as no surprise. He also had two interceptions in last year's 19-10 victory over the Falcons in Tampa.
Trick or Treat: Tampa Bay had a little trickery in mind when it pulled a fake punt out of its bag of tricks late in the first quarter against Atlanta. With the Bucs holding a 7-0 lead, the team faced a fourth-and-10 at its own 26-yard line following three straight incomplete passes. P Mark Royals took the snap and found a wide-open Damien Robinson for a 36-yard gain and a first down in Atlanta territory. It was not the first time the two players helped Tampa Bay on an apparent punting play. Last season against Green Bay, Royals connected with Robinson for a 17-yard gain on a fourth down play that led to a Bucs field goal in a 29-10 victory (12/26/99) in Tampa.
Well Dunn: RB Warrick Dunn has overcome an injury-plagued 1999 season to become the Bucs' top running threat under Les Steckel's new offensive scheme. Dunn, who has split the workload with All-Pro Mike Alstott, has regained his form from a 1998 season, in which he rushed for 1,026 yards (4.2 avg.). He became just the fifth 1,000-yard rusher in franchise history that season. Last season Dunn caught a team-leading 64 passes for 589 yards and two TDs, even though he was hampered by a nagging hamstring strain through training camp. This season a healthy Dunn has paid dividends to an ever-improving Bucs' running game. Dunn leads the Bucs with 443 yards on 110 carries (4.0 avg.) and one TD. His one-yard TD run at Detroit (9/17) marked his first score since a 27-24 win over Minnesota (11/1/98) in Week 8. Dunn also has racked up 18 receptions for 171 yards (9.5 avg.). In his last three games, Dunn has rushed for 212 yards on 37 carries (5.7 avg.), averaging 70.6 yards per contest.
The ground attack, though, is where Dunn has become a major player in the offensive attack. A fourth-year pro from Florida State, Dunn posted his finest consecutive game total in two seasons, combining for 166 rushing yards on 29 carries (5.7 avg.) in wins over Minnesota and Atlanta. That marked his best two-game outing since he combined for 180 rushing yards versus Jacksonville (11/15/98) and Detroit (11/22/98). With his 77 yards rushing at Atlanta, Dunn moved into third place on the all-time rushing list with 3,063 yards, passing Ricky Bell (3,057) and Reggie Cobb (3,061).
Marvelous Moore: TE Dave Moore has shown a penchant for catching touchdown passes and that trend has taken form in the last two weeks. Moore has scored touchdowns in each of the last two games, including a one-yard reception from QB Shaun King at Atlanta for the first points of the game. In his career, Moore owns a touchdown once every 6.55 catches (131 receptions, 20 TDs). The 20 career touchdowns account for an astounding 15.3 percent of his 131 career catches, the highest scoring rate in club history for players with a minimum of 40 receptions. His ratio of touchdowns to catches is even better this season as he has grabbed three scores among his 16 receptions (1 in every 5.33 catches). In addition, the 20 touchdowns rank fifth all-time in franchise history.
It's Good To Be King: In Tampa Bay's modest two-game win streak, QB Shaun King has led the Bucs to an average of 34 points in those contests. King has thrown for a total of seven TDs in two consecutive games, becoming just the third Buc player in club history to accomplish that feat. King can also now boast 20 TD passes, which ties for sixth on the club's all-time list with Jack Thompson.
Most Touchdown Passes in Consecutive Games:
- 7, Shaun King…4 vs. Minnesota (10/29/00) and 3 vs. Atlanta (11/5/00)
- 7, Jack Thompson…4 vs. Houston (11/27/83) and 3 vs. San Francisco (12/4/83)
- 7, Doug Williams…3 vs. Pittsburgh (11/9/80) and 4 vs. Minnesota (11/16/80)
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 556 receiving yards (on 31 receptions) and an impressive 17.9 yards per catch average. He has a chance to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. Green, who grabbed his 100th career reception last week at Atlanta, set a career-high with 11 catches (for 131 yards) at Minnesota. The 11 catches in the Monday night contest are the most ever for a Buccaneer wide receiver and were just two shy of the franchise single-game mark of 13 by James Wilder against Minnesota (9/15/85). Green, who had 12 catches in Tampa Bay's first five games, nearly equaled that with his outstanding performance on Monday Night Football.
Fearsome Front Four: Tampa Bay's defensive line is on a torrid sack pace this season as the Bucs can boast an NFL-best 41 sacks, just three shy of the club record of 44 set in 1997. The Buccaneers, on pace for an astounding 73 sacks, have a chance to break the all-time NFL mark of 72 sacks by the 1984 Chicago Bears. Spearheaded by a defensive front four featuring LDE Chidi Ahanotu, DT Warren Sapp, NT Anthony McFarland and RDE Marcus Jones, Tampa Bay's defensive line can boast 34 of the club's 41 sacks. The defensive line is anchored by Sapp, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who has racked up 10.5 sacks in his first nine games. Jones, who was inserted into the starting lineup prior to the season opener, set a club record with a four-sack performance against the Lions and has 10 on the year. In fact, the 21.5 sacks between Sapp and Jones are more than 16 other teams combined sack totals. The other new starter on the defensive line is McFarland, who in his first season as a starter has registered 6.5 sacks (seventh in the NFC) alongside Sapp. Ahanotu, the veteran leader of the defensive front, has nicely solidified the left side, posting 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
You Say Red, I Say Green: The Bucs saw an impressive streak come to an end last Sunday at Atlanta. With QB Shaun King's interception early in the second quarter, the Bucs failed to score inside the red zone for the first time this season under new offensive coordinator Les Steckel (who calls it the Green Zone). Tampa Bay had been 23-23, including 15 touchdowns, prior to the interception by Ray Buchanan in the end zone. In fact, dating back to last season, the Buccaneers had scored on 36 consecutive trips inside the 20, counting both playoff games. The last time Tampa Bay had failed to produce points on a visit inside the 20 was last year's Oakland game (12/19/99).
Despite the end of the streak, the Buccaneers are still 25-27 inside the 20 this season, including 16 touchdowns for a scoring percentage of 92.6% and a touchdown rate of 59.3%. Entering last weekend, Tampa Bay had been the only team in the NFL to have scored on every possession inside the 20.
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%). In fact, Tampa Bay's 16 touchdowns already surpass last year's total for touchdowns inside the 20 for the entire season.
Key to the Offense: WR Keyshawn Johnson has made a big impact on the Bucs offense since his arrival, especially over the last few games. Last week at Atlanta, Johnson equaled his career-high with two touchdown catches from QB Shaun King. The first touchdown, a five-yard reception, gave Tampa Bay a 14-0 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. Johnson's second score was a 29-yard play that put the game out of reach, giving the Bucs a 24-7 edge with just under eight games left in the game. Two weeks ago versus Minnesota, Johnson reeled in six catches for 121 yards and one TD. The 121 yards marked Johnson's first 100-yard game as a Buccaneer. Johnson now has three TDs in the last two contests. Johnson's teams are now 15-4 over the last three seasons when he scores a touchdown. He also continued his streak of at least one catch in every game (73 games, including two playoff contests) of his NFL career.
You Can Call Me Al: LB Al Singleton made the most of his first career start, racking up a career-high 10 tackles at the SLB position Sunday at Atlanta. Singleton, who filled in for the injured Shelton Quarles (groin), opened the contest by tackling RB Jamal Anderson for a two-yard loss on the Falcons' first offensive play. An excellent special teams player, Singleton ranks fifth on the team with eight special teams tackles and also blocked a punt earlier this season at Detroit.
Offensive Explosion: The Bucs scored 41 points against Minnesota, giving Tampa Bay 40-plus points in a game twice in the same season for the first time in club history (also 41 points vs. Chicago on Sept. 10). In fact, over the first 24 seasons in franchise history, the Bucs scored 40 or more points just three times. With its 31-point outburst in the first half against the Vikings, Tampa Bay also tied the club record for most points in a half. The Bucs also scored 31 points in the first half of a 34-19 victory over Chicago on December 22, 1996 in Tampa.
More Offensive Fireworks: Tampa Bay has scored 232 points in the first nine games, the best total to open a season in club history. In fact, the 232 points has already eclipsed the totals for an entire season of five previous Buccaneer teams (including the 1982 strike season, in which nine games were played). In addition, the Bucs put 72 points on the board versus Chicago and Detroit, the best back-to-back performance in team history. The Bucs are on pace to score 412 points, which would shatter the team record of 335 points set by the 1984 team.
Brooks Hits Paydirt: For the first time in his career, LB Derrick Brooks found himself in the end zone when he returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter against Minnesota. The score was the third by the Bucs defense this season, including the second interception return (also CB Ronde Barber versus the New York Jets) for a touchdown. Brooks leads the club with 103 tackles and three forced fumbles this season. His 866 career tackles ranks second all-time in franchise history.