RB Aaron Stecker notched his career-long kickoff return in Chicago with a 48-yarder nearly to midfield
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. With the Bucs looking to start up a new winning streak and get back in the thick of the playoff race, the following release covers the upcoming contest against Buffalo from all angles.
TAMPA BAY (6-5) LOOKS TO REBOUND AGAINST BUFFALO (7-4)
GAME INFORMATION Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET Site: Raymond James Stadium Records: Tampa Bay 6-5, Buffalo 7-4 Television: CBS Play-By-Play: Dick Enberg, Color: Dan Dierdorf, Sideline: Bonnie Bernstein 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 Bears End Streak of Six Straight Losses to Tampa Bay with 13-10 Victory
Tampa Bay continued its struggles in cold weather (0-18 when the temperature is below 40 degrees) as Chicago avenged a 41-0 defeat to the Bucs earlier in the season with a 13-10 victory at Soldier Field. K Paul Edinger nailed a 48-yard field goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game to break a 10-10 tie and snap the Bears' six-game losing streak to the Bucs. Chicago got on the board first as Edinger was perfect from 34 yards midway through the first quarter. Tampa Bay responded with K Martin Gramatica's 13th straight field goal, a 33-yarder to open the second quarter. The field goal capped an 11-play drive that spanned more than six minutes. The game remained tied until the Bears defense gave Chicago a 10-3 halftime lead with their first of two interceptions on the afternoon. S Tony Parrish picked off QB Shaun King and ran untouched 38 yards for the score. King rallied the Bucs following the break, marching Tampa Bay downfield on its first possession to tie the game at 10-10. King, who finished with a career-high 72 yards rushing on the day, scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown run after the Bucs defense forced Chicago to punt after the break. The Bucs defense stopped the Bears on the ensuing possession as S Damien Robinson intercepted QB Shane Matthews on fourth down inside Tampa Bay territory. But Tampa Bay's offense gave the ball back on RB Warrick Dunn's fumble late in the third quarter, leading to Edinger's game-winning field goal. The Bears defense shut down the Bucs the rest of the way and Chicago ran out the clock to preserve the win.
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 43 sacks, while the offensive line has allowed just 18 sacks. Tampa Bay's sack differential of plus-25 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 (293.5 ypg)||12th||21st|
|Rushing Offense (120.9 ypg)||7th||14th|
|Passing Offense (172.6 ypg)||14th||25th|
|Total Defense (285.5 ypg)||3rd||6th|
|Rushing Defense (98.8 ypg)||5th||11th|
|Passing Defense (186.6 ypg)||5th||9th|
|Turnover Margin (+3)||3rd||10th|
|Third Downs (35.3%)||11th||----|
|Third Down Defense (30.1%)||1st||1st|
|Red Zone Scoring Pct. (93.5%)||1st||----|
|Red Zone TD Pct. (61.3%)||3rd||----|
|Opponent Red Zone TD Pct. (33.3%)||t1st||----|
|First Downs (188)||12th||----|
|Opponent First Downs (182)||3rd||----|
|Individual Statistic||NFC Ranking||NFL Ranking|
|Kicking - Gramatica (86 points)||4th||6th|
|Passing - King (77.6 rating)||10th||----|
|Punting - Royals (43.0 avg.)||5th||----|
|Punt Returns - Williams (7.9 avg.)||9th||----|
|Interceptions - Abraham (6)||t2nd||t2nd|
|Sacks – Sapp (11.5)||3rd||4th|
|Sacks – Jones (11.0)||4th||5th|
BUCCANEERS-BILLS SERIES NOTES
HEAD-TO-HEAD (Regular Season): Tampa Bay leads the all-time series, 4-2, but Buffalo captured the last meeting between the teams - a 17-10 victory in Tampa in 1991. All six previous meetings have come in Tampa, with five of the six contests being decided by seven points or less. The two teams first met in 1976, with Buffalo claiming a 14-9 victory. The Bucs won each of the next four meetings, starting with a 31-10 win in 1978. Tampa Bay also posted wins in 1982 (24-23), 1986 (34-28) and 1988 (10-5).
- Bucs' longest winning streak: 4, 11/19/78-12/4/88 - Bills' longest winning streak: 1, twice, most recent 9/22/91 - Bucs' home record: 4-2 - Bills' home record: 0-0
LAST MEETING - Buffalo 17, Tampa Bay 10 (9/22/91): Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly hit TE Keith McKeller for a 29-yard touchdown pass with just under six minutes remaining in the game and the Bills held on for a 17-10 victory. Tampa Bay marched down to the Buffalo eight-yard line following the score, but QB Chris Chandler's final pass fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired. Chandler, who replaced the injured Vinny Testaverde in the second quarter, completed 15-of-27 passes for 137 yards. The Bucs rallied twice to tie the game after Buffalo had taken leads of 7-0 and 10-7 before Kelly engineered the game-winning drive. Bucs RB Reggie Cobb rushed for a game-high 70 yards on 21 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Tampa Bay's defense forced two turnovers and held Bills RB Thurman Thomas to only 54 yards on 17 carries.
SERIES HIGHLIGHTS: Tampa Bay rolled to a 31-10 rout (11/19/78) behind the rushing of Johnny Davis (73 yards, 1 TD) and Ricky Bell (54 yards, 1 TD)...QB Mike Rae added two touchdown passes and Cedric Brown added two interceptions...Lee Roy Selmon forced a fumble with 36 seconds remaining to preserve a 24-23 Bucs win (12/19/82)...Tampa Bay rookie RB Melvin Carver rushed for a career-high 89 yards and scored on both a rushing and receiving touchdown...The Bucs turned two fumbled kickoff returns into touchdowns and held on for a 34-28 victory (11/2/86)...RB James Wilder ran for 97 yards on 20 carries, including a 45-yard TD run...Tampa Bay held an opponent without a touchdown for the first time since 1986 as it downed Buffalo 10-5 (12/4/88)...Bills QB Jim Kelly finds TE Keith McKeller for game-winning TD with less than six minutes remaining for 17-10 Bills win (9/22/91)...Bucs RB Reggie Cobb rushes for a game-high 70 yards in the losing effort.
CAREER STATISTICS VERSUS BUFFALO: WR Keyshawn Johnson - 38 catches, 449 yards, 4 TD
Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was Bills linebackers coach in 1984-85… Bills OL Ethan Albright, RB Jonathan Linton and LB Keith Newman all attended the University of North Carolina with Bucs DE Marcus Jones...Newman hails from Tampa and attended Thomas Jefferson HS… Bills K Steve Christie played for Tampa Bay in 1990-91… Bills QB Alex Van Pelt and G Ruben Brown both played collegiately at Pittsburgh along with Buc C Jeff Christy and TE Dave Moore… Bills T Jon Carman and FS Travares Tillman played at Georgia Tech along with Bucs QB Joe Hamilton… Bills LB Sam Cowart and Bucs LB Derrick Brooks, RB Warrick Dunn and FS Dexter Jackson all played collegiately at Florida State...Bucs C/OG Todd Washington played with Bills S Keion Carpenter at Virginia Tech...Bills NT Ted Washington was a standout at Tampa Tech HS… Bills OT John Fina played at the University of Arizona with Bucs OT Frank Middleton… Bills OL Joe Panos and Bucs OL Jerry Wunsch were linemates together at the University of Wisconsin...Bucs DT Anthony McFarland played with Bills S Raion Hill at LSU… Bills QB Rob Johnson threw passes to Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson at USC… Buffalo offensive coordinator Joe Pendry was an assistant on the Tampa Bay staff in 1991… Bills quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert started his NFL coaching career in Tampa (1992-95).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Here are a few things to keep an eye on this Sunday:
- Buffalo is ranked 10th in the NFL in passing offense (225.8 ypg), while the Bucs defense is allowing 186.6 ypg passing (ninth in the NFL).
- The Bills defense, ranked third in the NFL in rush defense (79.6 ypg), is giving up just 3.2 yards per carry this season and has allowed just four rushing scores. Bucs RB Warrick Dunn has gained 4.9 yards per carry (60 rushes for 296 yards) over his last four games. Tampa Bay has scored 10 rushing TDs after totaling just seven a year ago.
- Bills WR Eric Moulds ranks first in the NFL with 76 receptions, while Tampa Bay's defense is tied for fifth in the NFL with 15 interceptions. Bucs CB Donnie Abraham ranks tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions.
K Martin Gramatica is following a record-setting rookie season with an outstanding sophomore campaign. Gramatica, a third-round selection out of Kansas State prior to last season, has tied his career-best streak by converting his last 13 field goal attempts, including two from 50-plus yards against Green Bay two weeks ago. With his game-winning 54-yarder in the fourth quarter, Gramatica set a new club record with his fourth field goal of 50 or more yards this season and then extended that record to five with his second FG from 51 yards. The 54-yarder is tied for the second-longest in the NFL this season, with his career-long 55-yarder vs. Detroit (10/17) ranking best in the league. Three of his last four field goals have been from 50 or more yards.
For the year, he is 19-23 on field goals and a perfect 29-29 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 fourth in the NFC with 86 points.
Against Detroit on October 19, Gramatica nailed the 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.
Most Field Goals of 50 or More Yards in a Season
|Morten Andersen||Atlanta, 1995||8|
|Dean Biasucci||Indianapolis, 1988||6|
|Chris Jacke||Green Bay, 1993||6|
|Mike Vanderjagt||Indianapolis, 1998||6|
|Tony Zendejas||L.A. Rams, 1993||6|
|Martin Gramatica||Tampa Bay, 2000||5|
Several other kickers have also made five in a season. Most recent: Jason Elam (Denver, 1999).
RB Warrick Dunn has been the catalyst behind Tampa Bay's surging rushing attack over the past month. During the last four games, Dunn has racked up 296 rushing yards on 60 carries (4.9 avg). The four-game rushing total represents Dunn's best output since he complied 344 rushing yards on 62 carries in a four-game span (New Orleans, Minnesota, Tennessee and Jacksonville) during the 1998 season.
Running the ball effectively has paid dividends for Tampa Bay, which has posted a 3-1 record during that span. The Buccaneers have posted 551 rushing yards on 124 carries (4.4 avg.), improving their totals from the first seven contests in which they averaged just 3.7 yards a carry. Dunn, who carried the ball 17 times for 75 yards (4.4 avg.) at Chicago, combined with QB Shaun King for 147 yards on 28 carries (5.3 avg.) versus the Bears. King added his fourth rushing touchdown of the season, tied for second-best all-time for a Bucs quarterback (Steve Young holds the record with five in 1986).
Dunn will have an expanded role in the Bucs' rushing attack now that FB Mike Alstott is sidelined for six to eight weeks with a third degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Dunn can now boast a team-leading 573 rushing yards on 141 carries (4.1 avg.) and one touchdown, a vast improvement from a 1999 season in which he finished with just 616 rushing yards, averaging 3.2 yards a carry. In addition, Dunn has posted a team-best 780 yards from scrimmage (573 rushing and 207 receiving).
Tampa Bay racked up a season-high 165 yards rushing on 33 carries (5.0 avg.) at Chicago last Sunday, marking the eighth time in 11 contests the Bucs ran for more than 100 yards this season. Despite the loss to Chicago, the Bucs are 6-3 when they rush for over 100 yards.
With 11 games in the books for the 2000 season, several club records are in danger of falling, or have already fallen, this season. Here is a look (team record in parentheses):
Points Scored: 262 (335 in 1984) Scoring Margin: +82 (+47) Team Sacks: 43 (44 in 1997) Defensive TDs: 3 (5 in 1981) Return TDs: 4 (5 in 1981) *Blocked Kicks: 6 (5 in 1978) Individual Sacks: Sapp - 11.5, Jones - 11.0 (Lee Roy Selmon - 13 in 1977) Individual Scoring: Gramatica - 86 pts. (Gramatica - 106 in 1999) Field Goals Made: Gramatica - 19 (Gramatica - 27 in 1999) *Field Goals (50+ yards): Gramatica - 5 (Several - Last time, Gramatica - 3 in 1999) PATs Made: Gramatica - 29 (Obed Ariri - 38 in 1984) TD Passes: King - 15 (Trent Dilfer - 21 in 1997 and 1998) QB Rushing TDs: King - 4 (Steve Young - 5 in 1986) Interceptions: Abraham – 6 (Cedric Brown - 9 in 1981)
- Have already broken record
FORCING THE ISSUE
The Tampa Bay defense has been making plays all season and that has continuously led to points. Two weeks ago against Green Bay, the defense was held without a turnover until it forced a fumble by Packers RB Ahman Green in the fourth quarter. That fumble led to K Martin Gramatica's second field goal - a 51-yarder - giving Tampa Bay a five-point cushion. The previous 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.
For the season, the Bucs have forced 23 turnovers leading to an NFL-best 86 points for an average of 7.8 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 four games, Tampa Bay has forced nine turnovers leading to 34 points. Over the prior three games - against Washington, Minnesota and Detroit - Tampa Bay's defense had forced just three turnovers, leading to 14 points.
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 10-6 as a starter in the regular season. Under a new offensive scheme, King has completed 164-of-300 passes (54.7%) for 1,958 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. King, who has thrown nine touchdown passes over the last four games, has also rushed for four scores (second-best on the team). Eric Zeier is the backup QB and 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 573 yards, moved into third place on the club's all-time rushing chart with a team-leading 77 yards at Atlanta. Tampa Bay is 5-2 this season when Dunn rushes for 50 or more yards. Alstott, who ranks second on the squad with 456 yards, has a team-best five rushing scores, but will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks with a third degree sprain of the MCL in his left knee last week at Chicago. FB Charles Kirby has seen time in the backfield and should see his playing time increase with Alstott's injury. NFL Europe Offensive MVP Aaron Stecker has been Dunn's primary backup, while also serving as Tampa Bay's primary kickoff returner. RB Rabih Abdullah, serves as a backup at RB and ranks third on the squad with 11 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 48 passes, including 32 for first downs, with five touchdowns, also tops on the team. Johnson notched his first 100-yard receiving game as a Buccaneer against Minnesota and then followed that up by tying his career-high with two TDs at Atlanta. Johnson, who also leads the squad with 605 yards receiving, has scored four touchdowns over the last four games. Jacquez Green, who hauled in his 100th career reception at Atlanta, has emerged as Tampa Bay's big-play receiver and ranks second on the club with 602 yards receiving on 37 catches. Green set a career-high with 11 catches (for 131 yards) at Minnesota. Reidel Anthony is second on the team with four TD receptions on only 11 catches (a TD for every 2.75 catches). 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 come on strong with 18 catches and two TDs over the last seven games. Patrick Hape is in his fourth season with the club as a backup TE and also sees action in the backfield as Alstott's backup. The Bucs also have rookie free agent Todd Yoder.
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 backup 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. A few 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 18 sacks after allowing 32 in the first 11 games last season. Tampa Bay has allowed no sacks in three of its 11 games.
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 11.5 sacks this season, is closing in on the team record of 13 sacks by Lee Roy Selmon in 1977. DE Chidi Ahanotu has notched 39 tackles and 2.5 sacks thus far, while DE Steve White has 30 tackles and two sacks on the year. DE Marcus Jones, who ranks second on the squad with 11 sacks this year (fourth in the NFC), established a club record with four sacks versus Detroit in Week 7. Jones ranks tied for ninth in club history with 19 career sacks. DT Anthony McFarland, who replaced Brad Culpepper, starts alongside Sapp and has totaled 6.5 sacks. DT James Cannida, DE/DT Tyoka Jackson and DE John McLaughlin, who blocked a punt at Atlanta, all provide solid depth.
Linebackers Weakside LB Derrick Brooks has paced the club with 126 tackles, leading or tying for the team lead in seven of the first 11 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 44 tackles and third-year pro Jamie Duncan (fourth on team with 62 tackles) has moved into the starting MLB slot, vacated by Hardy Nickerson. Third-round pick Nate Webster, who has 20 tackles, 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 leads the team with 15 special teams stops, also serves in a backup capacity, as does Don Davis (second on team with 14 special teams tackles).
Secondary All-Pro SS John Lynch, in his fifth year as a starter, ranks second on the squad with 75 tackles on the year. FS Damien Robinson, who moved to strong safety last week at Chicago when Lynch was injured, has notched 65 tackles, third-best on the squad, and his four interceptions are second-best on the defense and tied for seventh in the NFC. LCB Donnie Abraham ranks tied for second in the NFL with a team-high six interceptions, including three in the last four games. Abraham also returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown at Minnesota and his 49 tackles is seventh-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 60 tackles, fifth-best on the squad. Brian Kelly (38 stops) joins the unit in the nickel set. CB Floyd Young backs up Abraham. Second-year S Dexter Jackson missed the first three games of the season with a left ankle sprain, but has registered 21 tackles. He saw significant action at free safety last week at Chicago, posting a career-high seven tackles. 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 29 of his PATs and is 19-23 on field goals in 2000. He has nailed 13 straight field goals, including three from 50 or more yards in the last three games. He also booted a career-long 55-yarder (tops in the NFL this season) against Detroit and his five field goals of 50-plus yards this year are the best in a single season in club history. His 86 points ranks fourth in the NFC. P Mark Royals has averaged 43.0 yards per punt this year to rank fifth-best in the NFC. WRs Hastings (10.0 avg.) and Williams (7.9 avg.) return punts, while RB Stecker (22.9 avg.) and Williams (25.0 avg.) are the Bucs' top kickoff returners.
FB Mike Alstott suffered a third degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee at Chicago and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. DE Steve White (right ankle sprain) and S John Lynch (dislocated left shoulder) were injured during the game, but their status for this week's game is uncertain. S Eric Vance (right ankle sprain) also was hurt and his status will be determined later in the week.
Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy is in his fifth season with the Bucs, boasting a franchise-best 41-34 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.
Wade Phillips is in his third season as Bills head coach after three seasons as Buffalo's defensive coordinator. Phillips has become just the 14th NFL head coach in the modern era to record 10 wins or more in each of his first two years. Each of Phillips' past two tenures as a defensive coordinator led to head coaching assignments with his existing teams. In Buffalo he was named the head coach after three seasons at the defensive helm and in Denver he had served as the defensive coordinator from 1989-92 before being named head coach. Previously, Phillips was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Philadelphia from 1986-1988. He served as the defensive coordinator at New Orleans from 1981-85 and coached linebackers at Houston in 1976 and the Oilers defensive line from 1977-80. In 1969, Phillips began his coaching career at his alma mater, University of Houston.
Tampa Bay's disappointing loss to the Bears not only severely damaged its changes of repeating as NFC Central Division champions, but was disheartening as the Bucs lost starting FB Mike Alstott for the next six to eight weeks. Alstott suffered a third degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the second quarter at Chicago. A three-time Pro Bowler, he has a team-leading five rushing touchdowns and is second on the club with 456 yards rushing.
Head coach Tony Dungy said that the biggest concern depth-wise is at the safety position, where a number of players sustained injuries last week. Pro Bowl S John Lynch, who dislocated his left shoulder early in the first quarter, is questionable for Sunday's game against Buffalo.
"John is very sore right now," said Dungy. "We will see how much pain he can tolerate to determine his status for the game."
Tampa Bay may also be without the services of a pair of backup safeties in Eric Vance, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the first quarter, and David Gibson, who was inactive with a left quadriceps strain. DE Steve White, who has excelled in pass rushing situations and has provided solid depth on the defensive line, severely sprained his right ankle and his status for the Bills game will be determined later in the week.
Home Sweet Home: Raymond James Stadium has not been friendly to Bucs opponents since it opened its doors in 1998. Tampa Bay is 16-5 at home in the regular season at RJS, including a 10-2 mark versus the NFC Central. That 10-2 mark includes wins in eight of its last nine divisional games at home.
Notes from the Chicago Game: RB Warrick Dunn rushed for 75 yards on 17 carries (4.4 avg.), giving him his second 70-plus yard game in the last three contests... S Damien Robinson picked off his career-high fourth interception on the year, second-best on the club and tied for 10th in the NFC... The four interceptions already doubles his career total of two entering the season ... Aaron Stecker's 48-yard kickoff return to open the game was a career-long and marked the longest by a Buccaneer since Game 8 at New Orleans last season...With DE Marcus Jones' 11th sack of the season in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay extended its streak to 23 consecutive games with at least one quarterback sack...Jones now ranks tied for ninth in club history with 19 career sacks (Ron Holmes, 19 from 1985-88)... QB Shaun King established a career-high with 72 yards rushing on 11 attempts and added his fourth touchdown on the ground for the year... King's four TDs rushing ranks second-best for a single-season for a Bucs signal-caller (Steve Young had five in 1986).
Brooks' Bunch: LB Derrick Brooks, who has led the Bucs in tackles the past two seasons, has continued his blistering pace this season with a team-best 126 tackles. He has led the team in stops in seven of the team's 11 contests, posting 10 or more tackles in seven games. Brooks is currently second on the Bucs' all-time tackles list with 889 tackles.
Safety Dance: Last week S Dexter Jackson filled in with the first team in practice as Pro Bowl S John Lynch saw limited practice time with a left thigh bruise. But when Lynch returned to the practice field on Friday, Jackson figured he would see most of his action on special teams. That quickly changed when Lynch suffered a dislocated left shoulder early in the first quarter, sending the second-year player into the game. With Jackson inserted into the lineup, Damien Robinson moved to strong safety, while Jackson filled in at free safety. Jackson responded with a career-high seven tackles and a special teams stop, and Robinson added eight tackles and a fourth quarter interception to end a Chicago drive. Tampa Bay's defense, which held the Bears to just two field goals, has not allowed Chicago to score an offensive touchdown in 18 quarters. The Bucs' secondary has posted two of their three best games against the Bears this season, allowing only 209 yards net passing. Sunday's outing marked the sixth time this season the Bucs have held an opponent to less than 200 yards net passing.
You Say Red, I Say Green: The Bucs saw an impressive streak come to an end 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 29-31 inside the 20 this season, including 19 touchdowns for a scoring percentage of 93.5% and a touchdown rate of 61.3%. Entering Week 10, 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 19 touchdowns already surpass last year's total for touchdowns inside the 20 for the entire season.
Happy 200th: Tampa Bay G Randall McDaniel reached a significant milestone against Green Bay when he lined up for his 200th career game, including his 180th consecutive start. This Sunday against Buffalo McDaniel is slated to start the 200th game in his 13-year career, ranking fourth among all active NFL offensive linemen. His 181 consecutive starts ranks second only to Tennessee's Bruce Matthews (208) among active NFL players.
Streakin' Stecker: RB Aaron Stecker, who was inactive two weeks ago against Green Bay, ran back his first kickoff return against Chicago for a career-high 48 yards. The return marked the longest by a Buccaneer since Yo Murphy's 55-yard return last season at New Orleans (11/7/99). Stecker, a first-year player from Western Illinois, finished with four kickoff returns for 93 yards. He now can boast a team-high 29 returns for 663 yards (22.9 avg.), also tops on the club.
Fearsome Front Four: Tampa Bay's defensive line is on an impressive sack pace this season as the Bucs own 43 sacks, just one shy of the club record of 44 set in 1997. 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 35.5 of the club's 43 sacks. The defensive line is anchored by Sapp, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who has racked up 11.5 sacks to rank third in the NFC. Jones, who earned a starting spot this year, set a club record with four sacks against the Lions and has 11 on the year. The other new starter on the defensive line is McFarland, who in his first season as a starter has registered 6.5 sacks alongside Sapp. Ahanotu, the veteran leader of the defensive front, has nicely solidified the left side, posting 39 tackles and 2.5 sacks.