Safety Damien Robinson has a career high six interceptions in 2000
Five weeks ago, after his team's loss at Chicago, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy indicated his belief that the Buccaneers had to win all five of their remaining games to attain their 2000 season goals.
Four down, one to go.
As the Bucs have piled one win on another over the last month, each succeeding game has become more important. In this case, Tampa Bay's heart-stopping victory against St. Louis on Monday has turned Sunday's game at Green Bay into an opportunity for the team to defend its division title, if Minnesota cooperates by losing at Indianapolis.
At the same time, the Bucs have one more game to chase team and individual goals. For example, Warrick Dunn could become just the fourth player in team history to score 10 or more touchdowns in a season, and the Bucs as a whole could break their team record for rushing touchdowns.
Complete coverage of where the Bucs stand and what they could accomplish in Green Bay is provided in the release below. In preparation for the game, as usual, the Buccaneers' communications department has prepared its weekly release for distribution to local and national members of the media. The document previews the upcoming game and keeps an eye on team notes, stats and trends.
PLAYOFF-BOUND TAMPA BAY (10-5) CLOSES OUT REGULAR SEASON AT GREEN BAY (8-7)
GAME INFORMATION Date: Sunday, December 24, 2000 Kickoff: Noon CT (1:00 p.m. ET) Site: Lambeau Field Records: Tampa Bay 10-5, Green Bay 8-7 Television: FOX; Play-By-Play: Ray Bentley, Color: Ron Pitts 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 Clinch Playoff Berth With Thrilling 38-35 Comeback Win Over St. Louis
RB Warrick Dunn scored his third rushing touchdown of the game with 48 seconds remaining as Tampa Bay rallied for a 38-35 win over St. Louis before a national television audience on Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium. After the Rams had stormed back from a 10-point deficit to grab a 35-31 lead, QB Shaun King drove the Bucs 80 yards on 13 plays for the game-winning score on a one-yard run by Dunn. S John Lynch sealed the victory with an interception of Rams QB Kurt Warner, his third of the game, with less than 30 seconds remaining. In a game that featured seven lead changes, Tampa Bay grabbed a 24-14 halftime lead, thanks to a two-yard score by Dunn and two scoring strikes from King to WR Keyshawn Johnson. Rams RB Marshall Faulk, who scored four touchdowns on the night, accounted for St. Louis first-half points with two rushing TDs. Faulk added a TD reception following the break to cut the lead to three, but Dunn broke free for a 52-yard run to extend the edge to 31-21 and eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season. But the Rams responded with 10 straight points on Faulk's third rushing TD and a 72-yard score from Warner to WR Torry Holt. The Rams defense then stopped Tampa Bay on downs, but the Bucs defense responded by forcing the Rams to punt with 2:22 left in the game, setting up the game-winning drive. Dunn tied a team single-game record with three rushing touchdowns and the Bucs offense gained a season-high 446 yards.
PLAYOFF BOUND For the sixth time in club history and the second straight year, Tampa Bay is headed to the postseason. In fact, the Buccaneers are making their third trip to the playoffs in the last four seasons. A look at the previous five showings:
1979…..Lost in NFC Championship 1981…..Lost in Divisional Playoff 1982…..Lost in First Round 1997…..Lost in Divisional Playoff 1999…..Lost in NFC Championship 2000…..?????
DID YOU KNOW?
The Bucs, who have already set a single-season record for points scored (374), have established a franchise mark for touchdowns with 42 this season (breaking the previous mark of 40 touchdowns by the 1984 team).
BUCS IN THE RANKINGS
Here is a look at where the Buccaneers stand in the team and individual rankings:
|Team Statistic||NFC Ranking||NFL Ranking|
|Total Offense (291.8 ypg)||10th||20th|
|Rushing Offense (133.3 ypg)||2nd||7th|
|Passing Offense (158.5 ypg)||15th||27th|
|Total Defense (298.7 ypg)||4th||9th|
|Rushing Defense (100.9 ypg)||3rd||8th|
|Passing Defense (197.9 ypg)||6th||14th|
|Points Scored (374)||4th||7th|
|Points Allowed (252)||3rd||7th|
|Turnover Margin (+13)||1st||t4th|
|Third Downs (35.2%)||12th||23rd|
|Third Down Defense (32.4%)||1st||2nd|
|Red Zone Scoring Pct. (90.9%)||1st||2nd|
|Red Zone TD Pct. (59.1%)||3rd||5th|
|Opponent Red Zone TD Pct. (38.1%)||4th||6th|
|First Downs (259)||11th||23rd|
|Opponent First Downs (262)||4th||t9th|
|Individual Statistic||NFC Ranking||NFL Ranking|
|Kicking - Gramatica (120 points)||2nd||3rd|
|Rushing – Dunn (1,093 yards)||8th||----|
|Total Yards – Dunn (1,471 yards)||8th||----|
|Passing - King (75.8 rating)||11th||----|
|Punting - Royals (42.1 avg.)||6th||----|
|Punt Returns - Williams (9.8 avg.)||5th||----|
|Interceptions - Abraham (7)||t3rd||t3rd|
|Interceptions - Robinson (6)||t5th||t7th|
|Sacks – Sapp (15.5)||2nd||3rd|
|Sacks – Jones (13.0)||4th||7th|
BUCCANEERS-PACKERS SERIES NOTES
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Packers lead the all-time series 26-16-1, winning 13 of the last 17. The two teams have split the season series in each of the previous two seasons, including a 24-22 Bucs win 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 12-4 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 2-1 since his departure, including a 20-15 victory on November 12 in Tampa.
- 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 - Packers' home record: 15-6 (3-2 in Milwaukee)
LAST MEETING - Tampa Bay 20, Green Bay 15 (11/12/00): Tampa Bay won its third consecutive game as it rallied in the fourth quarter to down Green Bay 20-15 at Raymond James Stadium. K Martin Gramatica nailed field goals from 54 and 51 yards to complete the rally, giving the Bucs their third consecutive victory at home over the Packers for the first time in series history. Green Bay grabbed its first lead of the game at 15-14 on a fake field goal for a touchdown with 14:01 left in the game, but Gramatica nailed the 54-yarder for a 17-15 Bucs lead less than four minutes later. After the Tampa Bay defense forced a fumble by RB Ahman Green, Gramatica extended the lead with his fifth field goal of 50 or more yards this season. The Bucs defense stopped Green Bay on its final two drives to preserve the victory. After a scoreless first quarter, QB Shaun King hooked up with WR Keyshawn Johnson for a five-yard score early in the second quarter. Packers K Ryan Longwell cut the lead to 7-3 with his first of three field goals, but King connected with WR Reidel Anthony with less than two minutes remaining in the first half for a 14-3 halftime edge. Packers QB Matt Hasselbeck, who came off the bench midway through the third quarter after Brett Favre suffered a left ankle sprain, led Green Bay to two third quarter field goals to cut the lead to 14-9. Hasselbeck then executed the fake field goal to perfection, throwing a 27-yard pass to a wide-open Bubba Franks for Green Bay's lone lead of the game.
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 - 85 carries, 349 yards, 4 TDs; 10 catches, 59 yards RB Warrick Dunn - 99 carries, 375 yards, 1 TD; 26 catches, 175 yards, 2 TDs WR Jacquez Green - 8 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD CB Donnie Abraham - 47 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery LB Derrick Brooks - 120 tackles, 1 fumble recovery S John Lynch - 71 tackles, 1 interception DT Warren Sapp - 36 tackles, 7 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... Green Bay Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Wolf served as the Bucs' VP/Operations from 1976-77.
Though QB Shaun King had not thrown for more than 164 yards in six straight contests, Tampa Bay still won five on those games led by a tenacious defense and the electrifying moves of RB Warrick Dunn. But with the St. Louis Rams and their top-ranked offense in town making a number of big plays, a Bucs' playoff berth fell squarely on the shoulders of King. The second-year signal-caller delivered a gutsy performance, leading Tampa Bay to a 38-35 comeback win over St. Louis on Monday Night Football.
King completed 18-of-38 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, including engineering one of the most important game-winning drives in franchise history - a 13-play, 80-yard drive covering one minute and 34 seconds - that gave the Bucs a 38-35 lead with just 48 seconds remaining in one of the most memorable games in the Bucs' 25-year history. S John Lynch sealed the game with an interception and the Bucs are headed to the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
The final drive featured two third-down passing conversions, a fourth-down scramble from King and one of the most improbable plays of the season - a 29-yard scramble from King after Dunn lateraled the ball to him, capping off a frantic two-minute drill ending with Dunn leaping over the top for a one-yard touchdown plunge for the winning score.
It should be noted that King is just a second-year player, but he once again exhibited his trademark poise and composure that helped improve Tampa Bay to a 13-6 regular-season record when he starts under center. Though the Bucs trailed by four and had no timeouts with 2:22 remaining in the game, DT Warren Sapp had confidence in King's ability to rally the Bucs.
"It was absolutely gut wrenching to watch the last drive but I saw Shaun's face on the sideline," Sapp said. "He had that look. I knew he was going to get it done."
The winning drive featured King at his best. He rolled out, hitting Green on a crucial third down pass for eight yards. King followed by taking a lateral from Dunn after he appeared to be stopped by DE Kevin Carter and raced 29 yards for a first down. He sustained a late hit by LB Mike Jones, which placed the ball on the Rams 35-yard line. King then sped away from LB London Fletcher, diving for six yards on a crucial fourth-and-four play. He followed two plays later by hitting a streaking Reidel Anthony for 22 yards on the right sideline, setting up Dunn for the one-yard score.
King, who led the Bucs to points on four of their first five possessions, connected with WR Keyshawn Johnson on scoring passes of eight and 17 yards respectively within a span of 3:02 in the second quarter. The first touchdown to Johnson marked King's first scoring pass in 18 quarters. With the 256 yards passing, King moved into sixth place on the club's all-time passing chart with 3,407 yards, moving past Steve Young (3,217 from 1985-86) and Jack Thompson (3,243 from 1983-84).
"Shaun's biggest quality is making the play that you need when it has to be made," Bucs head coach Tony Dungy said. "Someway he finds a way to make the play, and that's a great quality to have."
One of the NFL's most charismatic players, DT Warren Sapp made some bar-jarring hits en route to leading the Buccaneers to a win over the Rams on Monday Night Football to secure a playoff berth for the third time in four seasons. Sapp, the reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year, added to his franchise record with two first half sacks of Rams QB Kurt Warner. Sapp can now boast 15.5 sacks to date, which ranks third in the NFL behind Dolphins' DE Trace Armstrong (16.5) and Saints' DT La'Roi Glover (16.0).
Top Sack Seasons by a Defensive Tackle in NFL History
Keith Millard (Minnesota, 1989): 18.0 *La'Roi Glover (New Orleans, 2000): 16.0 *Warren Sapp (Tampa Bay, 2000): 15.5 John Randle (Minnesota, 1997): 15.5 Dana Stubblefield (San Francisco, 1997): 15.0 Cortez Kennedy (Seattle, 1992): 14.0 John Randle (Minnesota, 1994): 13.5
- Glover and Sapp each have one game remaining
Sapp exhibited his propensity for getting to the quarterback with his 13-yard sack of QB Kurt Warner in the second quarter. He bull-rushed his way through the Rams offensive line for a crushing blow that almost took off Warner's face mask for his second sack of the half. That sack led to QB Shaun King's 17-yard TD pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson seven plays later to propel Tampa Bay to a 24-14 halftime lead.
With his two sacks against St. Louis, Sapp now has 12 multi-sack games in his six-year career, including four this season. Sapp, who has 57.5 career sacks, is on pace to finish with the third-most sacks in a single-season by a defensive tackle in NFL history. Sapp has already surpassed the club single-season mark of 13 set by DT Lee Roy Selmon in 1977.
KEY TO THE OFFENSE
Tampa Bay used several big plays by WR Keyshawn Johnson in its thrilling 38-35 victory over St. Louis last Monday night. Johnson had a hand in all three of Tampa Bay's first half touchdowns and added some big catches down the stretch as the Bucs rallied for the game-winning score with less than a minute remaining in the game. Johnson led the club with seven receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
After a first half in which he grabbed five catches for 86 yards, Johnson was shut down in the third quarter before making his last two catches in the final 15 minutes. With less than five minutes on the clock, QB Shaun King found Johnson for a 23-yard gain on a 2nd-and-16 play from the Buccaneer 18-yard line. Johnson also helped on the game-winning drive, catching a seven-yard strike from King prior to the two-minute warning.
The Bucs' first touchdown of the game, a two-yard score by RB Warrick Dunn, came in large part to two big catches by Johnson. Johnson hauled in a 32-yard reception on third-and-10 and then weaved his way for 23 yards and a first down two plays later. Johnson snagged a nine-yard TD pass from King on the next series to give Tampa Bay a 17-14 lead and added a 17-yard TD reception for a 24-14 edge on the following drive.
The two touchdowns tied his career-high, giving him two scores in a game for the fifth time in his career, and his 116 yards marked his second 100-yard game of the year (121 yards vs. Minnesota). In addition, Johnson's teams now own a 17-4 mark over the last three seasons when he scores a touchdown.
DUNN ON THE GROUND (AND IN THE AIR)
RB Warrick Dunn has become the go-to-guy in the Buccaneer offense and the second half of the season has firmly established that trend. Dunn, who gained just 366 yards in the first half of the season, has nearly doubled that output over the last seven games. He has averaged one rushing touchdown per game over that stretch after finding the end zone on the ground just one time total in the first eight games of 2000.
|Statistic||First 8 Games||Last 7 Games|
|Total Yards from Scrimmage||560||911|
Last week against St. Louis, Dunn accounted for 198 total yards from scrimmage (145 rushing, 53 receiving) and tied the club's single-game record with a career-high three rushing touchdowns. Since FB Mike Alstott suffered a medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee at Chicago in Game 11, Dunn has put up extraordinary numbers. Dunn now has a team-leading 1,093 rushing yards on 233 carries (4.7 avg.) and leads the squad with eight touchdowns on the ground. Dunn has become just the third Bucs RB to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a single season twice in a career (also 1,026 yards in 1998). In the last four wins, Dunn has accounted for 60 percent of Tampa Bay's total offense, racking up 691 total yards. Dunn is currently eighth in the NFC in rushing with 1,093 yards and has scored a career-high eight rushing touchdowns. He is also eighth in the NFC with 1,471 total yards from scrimmage (1,093 rushing, 378 receiving).
Several club records are in danger of falling, or have already fallen, this season. Here is a look(team record or previous team record in parentheses):
TEAM RECORDS *Points Scored: 374 (335 in 1984) Scoring Margin: +122 (+47 in 1981) *Touchdowns: 42 (40 in 1984) Rushing Touchdowns: 18 (19 in 1995) Rushing First Downs: 109 (114 in 1984) Avg. Per Rush: 4.3 (4.11 in 1998) *Team Sacks: 54 (44 in 1997) Defensive TDs: 5 (5 in 1981) *Return TDs: 7 (5 in 1981) *Blocked Kicks: 7 (5 in 1978)
INDIVIDUAL RECORDS *Individual Sacks: Sapp - 15.5, Jones 13.0 (Lee Roy Selmon - 13 in 1977) *Individual Scoring: Gramatica - 120 pts. (Gramatica - 106 in 1999) Field Goals Made: Gramatica - 26 (Gramatica - 27 in 1999) *Field Goals (50+ yards): Gramatica - 5 (Several - Last time, Gramatica - 3 in 1999) Field Goal Percentage: Gramatica - 83.9% (Steve Christie - 85.2% in 1990) *Consecutive FGs: Gramatica - 16 (Michael Husted - 16) *PATs Made: Gramatica - 42 (Obed Ariri - 38 in 1984) TD Passes: King - 17 (Trent Dilfer - 21 in 1997 and 1998) *QB Rushing TDs: King - 5 (Steve Young - 5 in 1986) Best Avg. Per Rush: Dunn - 4.7 (James Wilder - 4.6 in 1987) Interceptions: Abraham - 7, Robinson - 6 (Cedric Brown - 9 in 1981) Forced Fumbles: Brooks - 5 (B. Thomas - 7 in 1991, Chambers - 7 in 1979) Gross Punting Average: Royals - 42.1 (Royals - 43.1 in 1999)
- Have already tied or broken record
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 14-6 as a starter in the regular season. Under a new offensive scheme, King has completed 212-of-386 passes (54.9%) for 2,532 yards with 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. King has also rushed for five scores to tie the club record for rushing TDs by a Bucs quarterback in a single season. Eric Zeier is the backup QB and also have Georgia Tech All-America QB Joe Hamilton.
Running Backs With Pro Bowl FB Mike Alstott sidelined over the last month, RB Warrick Dunn continued to see his workload increase. Dunn, who became the third Buccaneer to reach 1,000 yards twice in a career last week, leads the Bucs with 1,093 yards. Dunn accounted for 198 total yards against St. Louis and tied the club single-game record with a career-high three rushing scores. Tampa Bay is 9-2 this season when Dunn rushes for 50 or more yards. Alstott, who ranks second on the squad with 458 yards, missed three games with a third degree sprain of the MCL in his left knee but returned last week against St. Louis. FB Charles Kirby saw his playing time increase with Alstott's injury. NFL Europe Offensive MVP Aaron Stecker had been Dunn's primary backup, but has been inactive the last three weeks with a knee injury. RB Rabih Abdullah has filled in for Stecker as the top backup and also ranks fourth on the squad with 16 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 65 passes with seven touchdowns, also tops on the team. His 65 catches are the most by a Bucs wide receiver under head coach Tony Dungy and his 805 yards also ranks first on the club. 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 723 yards receiving on 47 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 12 catches (a TD for every 3.0 catches). Karl Williams (99 career catches) and rookie Frank Murphy round out the receiving corps.
Tight Ends In his eighth season with the club, Dave Moore is the starter at tight end and the veteran played in his 100th straight game versus Dallas. His 20 career TD catches rank fifth on the Bucs' all-time list. Patrick Hape is in his fourth season with the club as a backup TE and also sees action in the backfield. 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. The Bucs started the same five in each of the first 14 games, but that streak ended last week when Pierson was sidelined with a left calf injury. Three weeks ago against Dallas, the line paved the way for a club-record 250 yards rushing, including 210 yards by RB Warrick Dunn. The Bucs have allowed just 33 sacks after allowing 41 in the first 15 games last season. Tampa Bay has allowed two or fewer sacks in 11 of its 15 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 third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks this season, surpassed Lee Roy Selmon's team record of 13 sacks in 1977 with two sacks against Buffalo. His 57.5 career sacks ranks second in team history. DE Chidi Ahanotu has notched 58 tackles and 3.5 sacks thus far, while DE Steve White has 36 tackles and two sacks on the year. DE Marcus Jones, who ranks second on the squad with 13 sacks this year (fourth in the NFC and tied for the second-best single-season total in club history), established a club record with four sacks versus Detroit in Week 7. Jones ranks ninth in club history with 21 career sacks. Jones and Sapp are the top sack duo in the NFC with 28.5 sacks. DT Anthony McFarland, who replaced Brad Culpepper, starts alongside Sapp and has totaled 6.5 sacks. DT James Cannida (two sacks), DE/DT Tyoka Jackson (two sacks) and DE John McLaughlin all provide solid depth.
Linebackers Weakside LB Derrick Brooks has paced the club with 177 tackles, leading or tying for the team lead in 10 of the 15 contests. The three-time Pro Bowler tied the team single-game record and set a career high with 22 tackles against Buffalo, and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. He could eclipse his career-high of 189 in 1998 with 13 tackles in the regular season finale. Starting SLB Shelton Quarles, who grabbed his first career interception at Miami, has 64 tackles. Third-year pro Jamie Duncan (fifth on team with 85 tackles) has moved into the starting MLB slot, vacated by Hardy Nickerson, and scored his first career touchdown on a 31-yard interception return last week at Miami. Third-round pick Nate Webster, who has 29 tackles, backs up Duncan. Special teams standout Jeff Gooch, who leads the team with 22 special teams stops, also serves in a backup capacity, as does Don Davis (second on team with 20 special teams tackles). 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, is likely sidelined for the rest of the year with a left knee injury.
Secondary All-Pro SS John Lynch, in his fifth year as a starter, ranks second on the squad with 104 tackles on the year. Lynch, who has been bothered with a left shoulder sprain, has still managed to play and sealed Tampa Bay's win last week with a last-minute interception. FS Damien Robinson, who can also play strong safety, has notched 95 tackles, third-best on the squad, and his six interceptions are second-best on the defense and tied for fifth in the NFC. LCB Donnie Abraham ranks tied for third in the NFL with a team-high seven interceptions. Abraham also returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown at Minnesota and his 59 tackles is eighth-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. He has also notched 90 tackles, fourth-best on the squad. Brian Kelly (46 stops), who notched his first career touchdown on an interception return against Dallas, 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 29 tackles and his 19 special teams tackles are third-best on the team. He saw significant action at free safety 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 has already tied or broken four single-season records in 2000, has made all 42 of his PATs and is 26-31 on field goals. Gramatica, who was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October, has set club records for single-season points (120), 50-plus yard FGs (5) and PATs made (42), and nailed 16 straight field goals prior to a miss at Miami to tie the club record. The 120 points ranks second in the NFC and third in the NFL. P Mark Royals has averaged 42.1 yards per punt this year to rank sixth-best in the NFC. WR Williams, who is fifth in the NFC with a 9.8 return average, took back a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against Buffalo. Williams (24.3 avg.) and RB Stecker (22.9 avg.) are the Bucs' top kickoff returners.
FB Mike Alstott, who missed three games with a third degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, returned to action last week against St. Louis. LB Al Singleton (sprained MCL in his left knee) is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season. Starting LT Pete Pierson suffered a left calf strain at Miami, which forced him to miss the St. Louis game. His status for this week's game will be determined later in the week. FB Charles Kirby (left hamstring strain) and WR Karl Williams (left thumb sprain) sustained injuries against the Rams.
Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy is in his fifth season with the Bucs, boasting a franchise-best 45-34 regular-season mark (2-2 postseason). Dungy's 45 victories are the most for a Tampa Bay coach in franchise history. 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).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Here are a few things to keep an eye on this Sunday:
- The Bucs defense has set a club record with 54 sacks (3.6 per game) and the Packers offense has given up 34 sacks (2.3 per game).
- Tampa Bay has rushed for 18 touchdowns, one shy of the club record of 19 in 1995, while Green Bay has allowed just seven rushing touchdowns on the year.
COLD FRONT: It is a topic that inevitably pops up at least once every season. The Bucs own an 0-18 all-time mark in games where the game-time temperature is less than 40 degrees. Tampa Bay has won six times (in 20 tries) when the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees. Overall the Bucs are 6-32 when the temperature is below 50 degrees.
LATE SEASON SURGE: Since 1998, Tampa Bay has the best regular-season record in the NFL in December and January (January is included because last year's regular season stretched a few days into that month).
Tampa Bay…..10-2 N.Y. Jets…..9-3 Tennessee…..9-3 Jacksonville…..8-4 Atlanta…..7-4 Minnesota…..7-4
BUCS TIE FOR LEAGUE-HIGH WITH EIGHT PRO BOWL SELECTIONS: The NFL announced last week that eight Buccaneers - CB Donnie Abraham, FB Mike Alstott, LB Derrick Brooks, C Jeff Christy, K Martin Gramatica, S John Lynch, G Randall McDaniel and DT Warren Sapp - have been selected to the 2001 Pro Bowl, to be held in Honolulu February 4. Tampa Bay's eight players tie with the 1997 squad for the most in club history and are tied with Tennessee for the most for an NFL team this season. Six Buccaneers (Alstott, Brooks, Christy, Lynch, McDaniel and Sapp) were selected as starters, giving Tampa Bay the most starters in the NFL and the most-ever in team history, surpassing its four starters in 1999. Under the watch of General Manager Rich McKay and Head Coach Tony Dungy over the last five years, Tampa Bay has had 28 Pro Bowl selections. Prior to that, the Buccaneers had 18 Pro Bowl selections in the previous 20 years (1976-1995). Since McKay's arrival in 1994, the Buccaneers have drafted at least one Pro Bowl player in five of the six drafts from 1994-1999. Bucs 2000 Pro Bowlers
DUNGY BECOMES ALL-TIME WINNINGEST COACH: Bucs head coach Tony Dungy will certainly remember last Monday's Night dramatic come-from-behind 38-35 win over the St. Louis Rams. Not only did the victory secure a playoff spot for the Buccaneers for the third time in four seasons, but it helped Dungy reach another significant milestone. With the win, Dungy became the winningest Bucs head coach in franchise history with his 45th regular season win (45-34). In his fifth season, Dungy has led Tampa Bay to three postseason appearances and a pair of playoff wins. He has also revitalized a Buccaneer franchise that, in its 10 seasons prior to his arrival, posted a 43-111 mark (.279) with nine double-digit losing seasons and no playoff appearances. Dungy is the first Bucs head coach to lead three different clubs to 10 or more wins in a season (10 in 1997, 11 in 1999 and 10 in 2000).
SECONDARY TO NONE: The Tampa Bay secondary has had an outstanding season and Monday's night victory against St. Louis proved that once again. Despite giving up 298 yards passing, the defensive backs intercepted Rams QB Kurt Warner three times, including a game-clinching interception by S John Lynch with 25 seconds remaining in the game. CB Ronde Barber gave Tampa Bay some early momentum, grabbing a Warner pass on the third play of the game. The turnover set up a 35-yard field goal by K Martin Gramatica to put the Bucs on the board with a 3-0 lead. S Damien Robinson added his sixth interception of the season, second-best on the team, by halting a Rams drive early in the third quarter. For the season, Tampa Bay has picked off 23 passes, including seven interceptions over the last two games in wins over playoff contenders Miami and St. Louis. The 23 interceptions are tied for the fourth-best single-season total in club history.
SUCCESS PREDICATED ON TURNOVERS: Tampa Bay, which ranks first in the NFC in turnover margin at plus-13, has had success this season when it limits its turnovers on offense and forces opponent miscues. The Bucs are a perfect 10-0 this season in games in which they have a positive or equal turnover ratio against their opponents. In fact, since head coach Tony Dungy arrived in 1996, Tampa Bay is 31-3 in games when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent.
SCORING MARGIN RANKS TOPS IN THE NFC: Tampa Bay's scoring margin of plus-122 (374 points scored and 252 allowed), which is on pace to shatter the team record, ranks first in the NFC and fourth overall in the NFL. The Bucs are looking to break the previous club mark of plus-47 in 1981 (315-268).
NOTES FROM THE ST. LOUIS GAME: Head coach Tony Dungy became the winningest coach in club history with his 45th victory...Tampa Bay's 446 total yards marks the most yards under since Dungy arrived in 1996...It is the second time the Bucs have posted more than 400 total yards this season (also 10/29 vs. Minnesota)...The 446 net yards mark the most since the Bucs tallied 446 yards against Washington (12/4/95)....The Bucs forced at least one turnover for the eighth straight game and the 14th time in 15 games this season (all but Detroit game on October 19)…With two sacks by DT Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay has now registered at least one sack in 27 consecutive regular season games…K Martin Gramatica set a single-season record for PATs made in a season with five on the night (to give him 41), breaking the mark of 38 PATs made by Obed Ariri in 1984…Tampa Bay's 82-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter was the team's third-longest drive (by yards) this season…FS Damien Robinson grabbed his sixth interception of the year in the third quarter…The Bucs were 5-6 inside the 20 with four TDs and one FG…Since the opening of Raymond James Stadium in 1998, Tampa Bay has posted a 19-5 record at home in the regular season…Tampa Bay has now won five straight at home and finishes the 2000 regular season 6-2 at home.
YOU SAY RED, I SAY GREEN: The Buccaneers are 40-44 inside the Red Zone under new offensive coordinator Les Steckel (who calls it the Green Zone) this season, including 26 touchdowns for a scoring percentage of 90.9% and a touchdown rate of 59.1% (third in the NFC). In fact, Tampa Bay had opened the season a perfect 23-23, including 15 touchdowns, prior to an interception by Atlanta's Ray Buchanan in the end zone. 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%).