Tampa Bay Buccaneers

News & Notes, Week Six

Take a closer look at the Bucs' crucial contest in Minnesota next Monday

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TE Dave Moore scored the clinching touchdown in last year's Monday night showdown with Minnesota

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 Bucs Monday night game at Minnesota follows below.

TAMPA BAY (3-2) HEADS TO MINNESOTA (4-0) FOR MONDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN

GAME INFORMATION Date: Monday, October 9, 2000 Kickoff: 9:00 p.m. ET Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Records: Tampa Bay 3-2, Minnesota 4-0 National TV: ABC; Play-By-Play: Al Michaels, Color: Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller; Sideline: Eric Dickerson, Melissa Stark National Radio: CBS Radio Sports; Play-By-Play: Howard David; Color: Boomer Esiason, Matt Millen; Sideline: John Dockery 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

MONDAY NIGHT MADNESS The Buccaneers will be making their first of two appearances on Monday Night Football this season, with the crew slated to visit Tampa for a Dec. 18 showdown with St. Louis. Tampa Bay is 3-3 all-time on Monday Night, with a 3-1 record at home and an 0-2 mark on the road. This week's meeting with Minnesota marks the second straight season the two teams have met in a Monday night game, with the Bucs downing the Vikings 24-17, on December 6 last year in Tampa.

Bucs on Monday Night Football (3-3) 10/6/80 at Chicago, L 23-0 11/29/82 Miami, W 23-17 12/12/83 Green Bay, L 12-9 (OT) 9/28/98 at Detroit, L 27-6 12/7/98 Green Bay, W 24-22 12/6/99 Minnesota, W 24-17

LAST GAME Redskins Survive Late Bucs Comeback for 20-17 Overtime Victory LANDOVER - Former Buccaneer K Michael Husted kicked a 20-yard field goal just over four minutes into overtime as the Redskins downed Tampa Bay 20-17 in overtime before 83,532 (the largest crowd to ever see a Bucs game) at FedEx Field. The game-winning field goal was set up by a 57-yard punt return by Deion Sanders, which gave Washington the ball at the Bucs eight-yard line. The Bucs, who trailed 17-7 with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, forced overtime as K Martin Gramatica nailed a 42-yard field goal as time expired. Tampa Bay had cut the lead to three with two minutes left in the fourth quarter as QB Shaun King hit WR Reidel Anthony on a 46-yard strike after fumbling the ball following the snap. The game was deadlocked at 7-7 at halftime following first-half touchdown runs by FB Mike Alstott and Redskins' RB Stephen Davis. The Redskins took the lead on a Husted field goal in the third quarter and then appeared to seal the victory with 3:57 left in the final period on a eight-yard TD reception by Larry Centers.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Here is a look at how the Buccaneers and Vikings match up based on their season statistics after five games (NFL ranking in parentheses)

Tampa BayMinnesota
Total Offense289.6 (20)399.0 (3)
Rushing Offense121.4 (10) 160.8 (1)
Passing Offense168.2 (28) 238.3 (6)
Total Defense262.4 (6) 314.0 (12)
Rushing Defense92.8 (9) 108.5 (17)
Passing Defense169.6 (4) 205.5 (17)

BUCCANEERS-VIKINGS SERIES NOTES

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Vikings lead the all-time series 29-15. The series started in 1977, when Tampa Bay joined the NFC Central Division. Minnesota won 9-3 at Tampa Stadium in 1977 before the Bucs upset the Vikings 16-10 at Metropolitan Stadium in 1978. The win was just the third in franchise history and the first against a division opponent. Tampa Bay also won 12-10 at the Met the following year en route to its first division title, breaking Minnesota's six-year run as NFC Central champs. The Vikings won 10 of 12 contests from 1984-1989, but the series has tightened up in recent years. Tampa Bay and Minnesota have split the season series in each of the previous seven seasons.

  • Bucs' longest winning streak: 2 (3 times), most recent 11/27/94-10/15/95 - Vikings' longest winning streak: 5 (3 times), most recent 11/3/91-10/10/93 - Bucs' home record: 9-13 - Vikings' home record: 16-6

LAST MEETING: Tampa Bay 24, Minnesota 17 (12/6/99) The Bucs coupled a big-play defensive effort with some timely offense to rally for a 24-17 win over Minnesota before 65,741 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay jumped out on top on the third play of the game. CB Donnie Abraham blitzed from the left side, timed his jump perfectly and picked off a Jeff George pass. He raced 55 yards for a TD to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead. Martin Gramatica hit a 20-yard FG to push the lead to 10-0. But the Bucs handed the high-powered Vikings offense two short fields off turnovers in the second quarter. After a Shaun King fumble, Leroy Hoard capped a 22-yard march with a one-yard TD plunge. Then WR Karl Williams muffed a punt, Minnesota recovered at the Bucs 10, and George hit WR Cris Carter on a one-yard scoring toss to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead at the half. Tampa Bay answered midway through the third quarter, when King hit WR Jacquez Green on a 29-yard TD strike. At the end of the quarter, the Bucs took advantage of a Minnesota special teams miscue. Former Buc Yo Murphy fumbled a punt and LB Shelton Quarles recovered at the Vikings 15. Seven plays later, King found TE Dave Moore in the back of the end zone on a one-yard toss, giving Tampa Bay a 24-14 lead. Gary Anderson pulled Minnesota within seven points on a 34-yard FG, then George mounted one final charge. But a 4th and 19 pass from the Bucs 34 fell incomplete.

SERIES HIGHLIGHTS: QB Fran Tarkenton hits RB Chuck Foreman on a 31-yard TD pass, as the Vikings escape with a 9-3 win at Tampa Stadium (9/24/77)…Bucs gain just 155 total yards but force four Minnesota turnovers en route to 16-10 road win (9/17/78)…QB Doug Williams scores on a 13-yard TD run with 19 seconds left but the ensuing PAT is blocked, giving the Vikings a 23-22 win (11/25/79)…"We blocked bad, we were terrible on defense and our kicking game made up for it by being absolutely horrible," Bucs head coach John McKay said. "We ran onto the field fairly well."…Tampa Bay would rebound to win the division crown…RB James Wilder runs for 219 yards -- including a 75-yard TD -- as Bucs earn 17-12 win (11/6/83), their first at the Metrodome…Steve Christie kicks 36-yard FG in OT to lift Bucs to 23-20 road win (9/30/90)…Tampa Bay scores 17 points in the fourth quarter en route to 24-13 win in Tampa (10/13/96), Tony Dungy's first win as head coach…Bucs open 3-0 with a 28-14 win at Minnesota (9/14/97)…QB Trent Dilfer completes 15 of 20 passes for 192 yards and two TDs...QB Shaun King makes his starting debut and leads the Bucs to a 24-17 win before a then-record crowd of 65,741 on Monday Night Football in Tampa (12/6/99).

OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT Despite losing late in the game in each of its last two contests, the Tampa Bay offense has shown some improvement from a year ago. Tampa Bay is ranked 20th in the league in total offense (289.6 ypg), including 10th in the NFL in rushing offense (121.4 ypg). Last season the Bucs offense ranked 28th in the league in total offense (265.9 ypg) in the final rankings.

A look at the first five games this season versus the opening five contests a year ago shows more production. In fact, the Bucs have scored eight rushing touchdowns already after finding the end zone via the ground seven times in 16 games last season. Here is a comparison:

19992000
Points82127
Touchdowns816
Third Down Pct. 34.338.6
Total YPG271.6289.6
Rushing YPG131.0121.4
Passing YPG140.6168.2
Rushing TDs28
Passing TDs66
Interceptions103
Fumbles Lost54
Sacked169

Another area that has shown phenomenal improvement is Tampa Bay's success inside the 20. The offense has been perfect in that regard, converting on all 14 of its chances (11 TDs, three field goals) in the first five games. In fact, Tampa Bay's 11 touchdowns have been scored by seven different players (Alstott-4, King-2, Anthony, Dunn, Johnson, McDaniel and Moore).

PREMIUM DEFENSE

Though Tampa Bay dropped in the NFL rankings after its 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins, the Buccaneers can take solace in the fact that they are still ranked in the upper echelon of the league in total defense. Currently ranked sixth overall in the NFL in total defense (262.4 yards per game), fourth in pass defense (169.6 yards per game) and ninth in rushing defense (92.8 yards per game), Tampa Bay is among the league leaders in six different categories.

Tampa BayNFL Ranking
Total Points Allowed Per Game13.43
Turnover Ratio+51
Total Yards Per Play4.23
Total First Downs Per Game13.22
Third Down Efficiency17-72 (23.6%)1
Sacks221

Buoyed by the inspired play of All-Pro DT Warren Sapp (tied for second in the NFC with 6.5 sacks), LB Derrick Brooks (64 tackles), S John Lynch (27 tackles, one INT), playmaker CB Donnie Abraham (three interceptions) and the emergence of CB Ronde Barber (3.5 sacks, fumble and interception returns for TDs), DE Marcus Jones (four sacks) and DT Anthony McFarland (18 tackles, 3.5 sacks), the Buccaneers are one of the most feared defensive units in the NFL -- holding their first five opponents - to just 67 points.

For Tampa Bay, the success is predicated by the most suffocating defensive line in the league. The Buccaneers, who have posted an NFL-leading 22 sacks, are on pace to rack up 70 sacks, which would shatter the team mark of 44 established in 1997.

As for the secondary, the Buccaneer defenders continue to play at a physical and tenacious style, which has rightfully placed them among the league's elite. Tampa Bay's secondary has held opponents to 17-for-72 (23.6%) on third down conversions and has compiled six interceptions.

In total, the opportunistic Buccaneers have forced 12 turnovers, leading to 45 points and have a league-best plus-5 turnover margin after posting one takeaway Sunday. The Buccaneers' defense in the red zone, ranked second in the NFC, has stifled opponents, allowing just three touchdowns in 12 attempts.

POSITION BREAKDOWN

Quarterbacks Second-year pro Shaun King is in his first full season as the starter after starting seven games last season, including two playoff contests. He is 7-3 as a starter in the regular season. Under a new offensive scheme, King has adjusted well completing 66-of-132 passes for 882 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Eric Zeier is the backup QB and the Bucs also have Georgia Tech All-America QB Joe Hamilton.

Running Backs The tandem of FB Mike Alstott and RB Warrick Dunn combined for more than 1,500 yards on the ground last season, and the duo has wasted no time showing that they plan to better that in 2000. Alstott, who leads the Bucs with 299 rushing yards, already has a team-best five rushing scores and is tied for second in NFC in scoring with 30 points. Dunn, who found the end zone on the ground for the first time since 1998 in Week Three at Detroit, ranks second with 199 yards. NFL Europe Offensive MVP Aaron Stecker has been Dunn's primary backup, while also serving as Tampa Bay's kickoff returner. RB Rabih Abdullah has been inactive the last four weeks.

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 21 passes, including 13 for first downs, with one touchdown in the first five games. In four seasons with the Jets, Johnson corralled 305 passes, 31 for TDs. Jacquez Green has emerged as Tampa Bay's number two receiver and leads the Bucs with 309 yards receiving on 12 catches. Five of Green's receptions have been for 30-plus yards and he is on pace to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. His 309 receiving yards is currently 10th-best in the NFC. Reidel Anthony (85 receptions over the last two seasons), who racked up his first touchdown of the season on a 46-yard pass last week, Karl Williams (99 career catches) and Andre Hastings (226 career receptions with Pittsburgh and New Orleans) round out the receiving corps.

Tight Ends Dave Moore is the starter at tight end and his 18 career TD catches rank fifth on the Bucs' all-time list. Patrick Hape is in his fourth season with the club as a back-up TE and also sees action in the backfield as Alstott's backup. The Bucs also added Todd Yoder, who made the team as a rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt.

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 line opened the 2000 season with a strong showing at New England, springing the running game to 140 yards and allowing just one quarterback sack. The unit followed that performance with another outstanding game versus Chicago, aiding a ground attack that gained 156 yards with two touchdowns. In Week Three at Detroit, the unit allowed no sacks and helped the offense gain 331 yards in total offense. The Bucs have allowed just nine sacks after allowing 16 in the first five 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 is tied for second in the NFC with 6.5 sacks in five games. DE Chidi Ahanotu has notched 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks thus far, while DE Steve White has one sack on the year. DE Marcus Jones, who has four sacks this year, has moved into a starting spot opposite Ahanotu. DT Anthony McFarland, who replaced Brad Culpepper, starts alongside Sapp and has totaled 3.5 sacks. DT James Cannida, DE/DT Tyoka Jackson and DE John McLaughlin all provide solid depth on the line.

Linebackers Weak-side LB Derrick Brooks has paced the club with 64 tackles in five games. The three-time Pro Bowler earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after a 16-tackle performance at New England in Week One. Starting SLB Shelton Quarles is second on the team with 32 tackles and third-year pro Jamie Duncan 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 re-signed Al Singleton, who blocked a punt in the win over Detroit. Special teams standout Jeff Gooch also serves in a back-up capacity.

Secondary All-Pro SS John Lynch, in his fifth year as a starter, moved into sole possession of seventh place on the club's all-time list with his 13th career interception at Detroit. FS Damien Robinson grabbed his first interception of the year against New York. LCB Donnie Abraham, who is off to a great start in 2000, ranks tied for third in the NFC with three interceptions. 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. 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 and is a solid special teams player.

Special Teams Martin Gramatica, who set club records for single-season points (106) and FGs (27) a year ago, has made all 16 of his PATs and is 5-8 on field goals in 2000, including a game-tying 42-yarder on the final play of regulation last week at Washington. P Mark Royals, who has averaged 44.1 yards per punt this year (fourth-best in the NFC), ranked third in the NFC in gross average (43.1 to set a Bucs' single-season mark) last season. WRs Williams and Green return punts, while RB Stecker is the Bucs' top kickoff returner, ranking sixth in the NFC with a 25.4 kickoff return average.

TAMPA BAY'S RECORD Here is a look at the Bucs' record under head coach Tony Dungy in certain situations since 1996:

Buccaneers' Record When:

At Home: 24-10 Score first: 22-9 On the Road: 14-21 Opponent scores first: 16-22 Winning Coin Toss: 22-11 Score 21 points or more: 23-8 Losing Coin Toss: 16-20 Leading after third quarter: 27-3 100+ Rushing Yds.: 32-9 Under 100 Rushing Yds.: 6-22

FAMILIAR FACES

Bucs offensive assistant Wendell Avery played QB at the University of Minnesota…Vikings CB Anthony Bass went to Bethune-Cookman…Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper went to Central Florida…Bucs head coach Tony Dungy was the Vikings' defensive coordinator under Dennis Green from 1992-95...Dungy also played collegiately at Minnesota…Dungy brought strength and conditioning coach Mark Asanovich and offensive line coach Chris Foerster to Tampa from the Vikings…Dungy also played collegiately at Minnesota…Buccaneers offensive coordinator Les Steckel coached for the Vikings from 1979-1984, four seasons as special teams coach and one season as head coach…Tampa Bay's Rod Marinelli was assistant head coach and defensive line coach at California when Todd Steussie and Chidi Ahanotu were with the Golden Bears...TE Patrick Hape played at Alabama with Vikings LB Dwayne Rudd…Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin coached four seasons (1991-94) with the Vikings…S John Lynch and Vikings WR Chris Walsh played under Vikings head coach Dennis Green at Stanford…G Todd Washington and Vikings CB Antonio Banks were teammates at Virginia Tech...Former Vikings C Jeff Christy (1993-99) and G Randall McDaniel (1988-99) both came to Tampa this past offseason as free agents...Viking FB Harold Morrow and Bucs T DeMarcus Curry both attended Auburn…Buccaneer rookie LB Nate Webster and Viking rookie DE Michael Boireau were teammates at Miami…Viking LB Jim Nelson and Buccaneer DT/DE Tyoka Jackson were fellow Nittany Lions at Penn State...Minnesota TE Andrew Jordan played for the Bucs in the final two regular season games in 1997...Vikings TE John Davis played with Tampa Bay from 1997-99...Minnesota LS Mitch Palmer played for the Bucs from 1998-99.

INJURY UPDATE

The Buccaneers suffered a few injuries in Sunday's loss at Washington. WR and punt returner Karl Williams suffered a MCL injury to his left knee and will be sidelined four to six weeks. LB Jamie Duncan sustained a concussion and his status for this week's game is uncertain. CB Ronde Barber (right arm bruise), OG Frank Middleton (right knee sprain), LB Shelton Quarles (left ankle sprain) and RB Aaron Stecker (left knee sprain) all sustained injuries, but returned to the game.

HEAD COACHES

Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy is in his fifth season with the Bucs, boasting a franchise-best 38-31 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.

Dennis Green is in his ninth season as Vikings head coach. He has guided Minnesota to the playoffs in seven of his first eight seasons. The Vikings posted an NFC-best 15-1 regular-season mark in 1998 as Green earned Coach of the Year honors from Sports Illustrated. Overall Green owns a 85-47 record (.644) as a head coach. He came to Minnesota after a three-year stint as the head coach at Stanford. Prior to that, he was receivers coach at San Francisco for three seasons, culminating with a victory in Super Bowl XXIII. Green's first head coaching job was at Northwestern from 1981-85.

BUC SHOTS

Spoilers: Tampa Bay is primed to play the spoiler, hoping to halt Minnesota's unbeaten 4-0 streak with a victory Monday Night at the Metrodome. This is the second time in three seasons the Buccaneers clash with an undefeated Vikings club. The Buccaneers hosted a Vikings team that raced off to a 7-0 start in 1998, but Tampa Bay defeated Minnesota 27-24 at Raymond James Stadium on November 1. The loss marked the Vikings' only regular-season defeat as Tampa Bay rushed for a team-record 246 yards.

You Say Red, I Say Green: One area where the Bucs have shown great improvement on offense this season is in the red zone under new offensive coordinator Les Steckel (who calls it the Green Zone). In five games thus far, the Buccaneers are a perfect 14-14 inside the 20, including 11 touchdowns for a scoring percentage of 100% and a touchdown rate of 78.6%. Last season Tampa Bay scored points on 34 of its 45 trips inside the red zone (75.6%), but only scored a touchdown on 15 of the 45 times (33.3%).

Offensive Explosion: The Bucs have set new standards for points scored with their success thus far this season. Tampa Bay has scored 127 points in the first five games, marking the best total to open a season in club history. 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 406 points, which would shatter the team record (335 in 1984).

Defense Leads to Offense: Tampa Bay's defense has consistently made big plays to help score points for the Bucs. Last week versus the Redskins, DT Anthony McFarland sacked Redskins QB Brad Johnson in the first quarter, forcing a fumble that was recovered by FS Damien Robinson. The Bucs offense took advantage and FB Mike Alstott scored from two yards out five plays later for an early 7-0 lead. On the year, Tampa Bay has forced 12 turnovers leading to 45 points, an average of nine 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.

Confident Under Fire: It was just his 10th career regular season start, but it was the type of fourth quarter performance that Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy has come to expect from his second-year signal-caller: Shaun King. Trailing the Washington Redskins by 10 points with just 3:57 remaining in the contest, King engineered a thrilling 10-point comeback to force the issue into overtime and silence a raucous crowd of 83,532 - the largest crowd ever to see the Bucs play - at FedEx Field. The primary reason was King's production in the fourth quarter, in which he completed 7-of-14 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown. The comeback attempt began when King promptly escorted Tampa Bay on a seven-play, 69-yard drive, capped off by an improbable 46-yard touchdown pass to WR Reidel Anthony to cut the deficit to 17-14 with just two minutes remaining. On the crucial third-down play, King dropped back to pass and had the ball slapped out of his hands by DE Bruce Smith. Before Smith could recover the offering, King picked up the ball, rolled to the left and hit the streaking Anthony, who raced behind the Redskins secondary for the score. Then after DT Warren Sapp blocked K Michael Husted's 35-yard field goal attempt on the ensuing drive, King and the Bucs gained possession on their own 25-yard line with 43 seconds left. King calmly connected on a 12-yard pass to RB Warrick Dunn, then followed with a 15-yard scramble into Redskins' territory. King followed by rolling right to hit WR Keyshawn Johnson for a 19-yard gain to the Washington 29-yard line. After an offsides call on the defense, K Martin Gramatica nailed a 42-yard FG on the final play of regulation to send the game into the extra stanza. In his first five starts, King has completed 66-of-132 (50%) for 882 yards and a passer rating of 77.3. King can also boast a TD-to-INT ratio of 2-to-1, connecting on six TDs with just three INTs.

Trifecta: With two new starters on the defensive line - DE Marcus Jones and DT Anthony McFarland - the Buccaneers have still continued to be one of the most suffocating front lines in the NFL. With three sacks on Sunday, Tampa Bay can boast an NFL-best 22 sacks. The Buccaneers, on pace for 70.5 sacks, are poised to break the franchise-mark of 44 established in 1997. Tampa Bay's vaunted defensive attack is paced by the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Warren Sapp, who is tied for second in the NFC with 6.5 sacks. Sapp is joined by McFarland, who has posted 3.5 sacks in his first year as a starter and Jones (four sacks), who earned the starting job in training camp after racking up 7.5 sacks in a reserve role last season. The trio -- Sapp, McFarland and Jones -- is on pace to record an astounding 46 sacks alone this season. The most prolific sack trio in franchise history was the 1997 unit - featuring Sapp (10.5), DE Chidi Ahanotu (10) and DT Brad Culpepper (8.5) -- which totaled 29 takedowns.

Quarterly Reports: The Bucs defense has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter this season and including last year's playoffs, Tampa Bay has not given up a touchdown in the opening 15 minutes since Game 14 at Oakland last season. In addition, the third quarter has been difficult for opposing offenses. In the last seven regular season games the Bucs have allowed just six points in the third quarter, including no touchdowns in all five games this season. The last time the Bucs gave up a touchdown in the third period was in Week 14 at Oakland.

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 309 receiving yards (on 12 receptions) and an astounding 25.8 yards per catch average (tops in the NFL). He is on pace to become the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since Mark Carrier in 1989. In fact, five of his 12 receptions have gained 30 or more yards. Green recorded his third career 100-yard receiving game against Chicago with five catches for 104 yards (20.8 avg.), including a 58-yard touchdown. He followed up that performance with a three-catch, 56-yard day at Detroit. Green and QB Shaun King hooked up on a 75-yard pass play on the Bucs first offensive series against the Jets, the 10th-longest pass play in team history. The play was a career-long for both Green and King. Green is currently 10th in the NFC in receiving yards with 309.

Surging Sapp: DT Warren Sapp, who is coming off his best season as a pro after earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, may just surpass that success this season. Sapp already has 6.5 sacks after five games to rank tied for second-best in the NFC. He matched his career high with three sacks at Detroit. Last season Sapp racked up a career-best 12½ sacks, just shy of Lee Roy Selmon's club record (13).

Clutch Kicking: The Buccaneers solidified their kicking game with the addition of free agent P Mark Royals and 1999 third-round draft pick K Martin Gramatica last season. After finishing second in the NFC in gross average last season (43.13), Royals has been a consistent force thus far, averaging 44.1 yards per kick. Royals, who leads the NFC with 35 punt attempts, has placed five inside the 20-yard line. A 12-year veteran, Royals averaged 44.1 yards on nine punts against the Redskins. As for Gramatica, he calmly nailed the game-tying field goal at Washington, a 42-yarder on the final play of regulation, to push the game into overtime. Gramatica, who established club records with 27 FGs and 106 points last season, has connected on 5-of-8 FG attempts and all 16 PATs this season.

Devious Derrick: Recognized as one of the league's finest linebackers, Derrick Brooks has seemingly been involved in every offensive play by Bucs opponents thus far. Brooks, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a 16-tackle performance at New England, has led the defense in tackles in four of the first five games. He now boasts a team-leading total of 64 stops in five games. Last season Brooks paced the Bucs in tackles in 12 of 16 contests en route to his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection.

The Barber Show: It was a September to Remember for CB Ronde Barber, who played a prominent role in leading Tampa Bay to its best start since 1997. Barber garnered NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 2 and has racked up two defensive touchdowns - a fumble recovery and interception return for a touchdown - en route to becoming the first player in franchise history to accomplish that feat since LB Richard Wood did so in 1977. Barber electrified the Raymond James faithful with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown, giving the Buccaneers a 17-6 lead late in the third quarter against the Jets. In a Week 2 win over Chicago, Barber produced the finest game of his career, notching a career-high 2.5 sacks, five tackles, a forced fumble and a 24-yard fumble recovery for a TD. Barber is now the second player in club history to score a touchdown three different ways (punt return, fumble return and an interception return), joining CB Ricky Reynolds (1987-93), who reached pay dirt on a punt return, fumble return and an interception return.

Alstott Attacks Record Book: With 60 yards rushing against the Jets, FB Mike Alstott moved into second place on the team's all-time list. Alstott moved two spots up the list, passing Ricky Bell (3,057 from 1977-81) and Reggie Cobb (3,061 from 1990-93). He currently has 3,136 career yards on the ground. Alstott still has a ways to go to catch the Bucs' all-time leader, James Wilder, who rushed for 5,957 yards from 1981-89. Alstott is currently tied for second in the NFC in scoring with 30 points and ranks 11th in the NFC in rushing with 299 yards.

Donnie on the Spot: CB Donnie Abraham has found himself in the right place at the right time several times this season. Abraham, who ranks tied for third in the NFC with three interceptions, grabbed one interception at Detroit after picking off two tipped Cade McNown passes the week before versus Chicago. It marked the third time in his career (Atlanta, 11/21/99 and Minnesota, 12/6/99) that Abraham had two interceptions in a game. His first interception came when McNown's second quarter pass was tipped by DE Steve White and into Abraham's hands. The turnover led to a 23-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica. The second pick bounced off the hands of Bears RB James Allen and Abraham was waiting to return it to the four-yard line. QB Shaun King found the end zone three plays later to give the Bucs a 13-0 lead. Abraham led the Bucs with seven interceptions a year ago.

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