RB Aaron Stecker scored his first career touchdown on a 35-yard reception
As you might expect from a game that included 41 points, over 400 yards of offense, 26 first downs and a winning margin of 27 points, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defeat of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday included a myriad of standout individual performances.
From Mike Alstott's three touchdowns to Dexter Jackson's third interception of the season to Reidel Anthony's impressive fill-in performance for Jacquez Green, the Bucs' 41-14 victory was a collection of star turns molded into an outstanding team effort.
Many of those efforts are described below, in the team's official postgame notes. Read on.
A-Train Back on Track
Mike Alstott started at running back in place of the injured Warrick Dunn (right hamstring strain) and rolled to his first 100-yard game since 1999. Alstott rushed for 129 yards on 28 carries with three TDs for his first 100-yard game since November 7, 1999 at New Orleans (25 carries for 117 yards with one TD). His three TDs tied the team's single-game mark and marked his second career three-score game (also 12/27/98 at Cincinnati). For his career, Alstott ranks second in club history in both total TDs (43) and rushing TDs (34), trailing only James Wilder (46 total TDs and 37 rushing TDs from 1981-89). Tampa Bay is now 29-5 when Alstott scores a touchdown.
The Bucs defense played one of its best games of the year, holding Minnesota to two second-half scores and 193 total yards. The 193 yards allowed was the best performance since the Bucs held Dallas to 127 yards in the 2001 season opener. Tampa Bay stopped Minnesota on back-to-back third-and-2 situations on the first two drives of the game to set the tone for the afternoon. For the game, Minnesota converted just 3-of-12 third down attempts. Minnesota was held without a first down until 9:45 remained in the third quarter. The Vikings gained 40 yards on that initial first down play after totaling 46 yards overall prior to the play.
Receiving Rave Reviews
With starting WR Jacquez Green sidelined with a left groin strain, the rest of the receiving corps was forced to fill in and they did more than make up for Green's absence. Fifth-year pro Reidel Anthony made his first start of the year and responded with two catches for 21 yards, and added a 16-yard run in the second quarter. Sixth-year WR Karl Williams added four receptions for 80 yards and TE Dave Moore hauled in five passes for 27 yards, including a five-yard TD reception.
RB Aaron Stecker had easily the best game of his two-year career, catching two passes for 51 yards, including his first career touchdown on an impressive 35-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter. Stecker added eight rushes for 30 yards on the day.
With his third PAT of the day, K Martin Gramatica broke the club record with his 79th consecutive extra point made, breaking Michael Husted's club mark (78 straight from 11/19/95 – 9/22/96). Gramatica has not missed an extra point in his career. Gramatica added 44 and 48-yard field goals in the third quarter. Gramatica currently has nailed 81 straight PATs.
A Key Once Again
WR Keyshawn Johnson continued his torrid start, reeling in five catches for 62 yards prior to suffering a right knee contusion late in the first half. Four of his five catches went for first downs and Johnson now boasts a team-best 46 catches for 610 yards in the first six games.
First Half Highlights
The Bucs defense did not allow a first down on Minnesota's five possessions and allowed just 44 total yards… Tampa Bay ran 46 offensive plays to Minnesota's 13… The Bucs gained 297 yards and registered 20 first downs… Tampa Bay's 28-0 lead at the break equaled its best halftime edge since 1998, when it led Cincinnati 28-0 on the way to a 35-0 victory (12/27/98)… The 28 points is tied for the third-most points in a half in club history… The club record is 31 points vs. Minnesota (10/29/00) and vs. Chicago (12/22/96).
Tampa Bay's 41 points ranks tied for the third-best single-game effort in club history (the team record is 48 points against Atlanta - 9/13/87)… After punting on its opening drive, Tampa Bay scored on its next seven straight possessions… The Bucs offense was a perfect 5-5 inside the red zone, with four touchdowns and one field goal… With its three rushing touchdowns, the Bucs have notched a touchdown on the ground in five of their six games (all but Pittsburgh)…Tampa Bay's first scoring drive was the longest of the year for time of possession at 8:23, surpassing the previous best of 6:33 at Dallas (9/9)… FS Dexter Jackson notched his third interception of the year, tied for the team lead, in the third quarter… The Buccaneers are 21-6 at home since 1998, and also boast one playoff victory during that span… Tampa Bay's 15-4 home record since the start of the 1999 season ranks fourth best in the NFL… With its four sacks, Tampa Bay has now recorded at least one sack in 34 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL…The last time the Bucs failed to notch at least one sack was at Minnesota on October 3, 1999 in a 21-14 loss… The longest streak in the NFL prior to the Bucs' current run was by the Denver Broncos from 1995-98, a span of 50 consecutive games… DT Chartric Darby notched his first career sack in the fourth quarter.