QB Jared Allen completed seven straight passes on a third-quarter TD drive before handing off for the go-ahead score
Jared Allen is in. Either Jason Nerys or Jacque Lewis will be joining him.
Two of those three Tampa Bay Buccaneers will see their collective spring tour of Europe extended by a week so that they may compete in World Bowl XIV, the NFL Europe League championship game. With one week remaining, Allen's Amsterdam Admirals have clinched one World Bowl berth while Nerys' Frankfurt Galaxy have a leg up on Lewis' Rhein Fire in the battle for the second spot.
Allen, in fact, is the starting quarterback for the 7-2 Admirals, who will be trying to defend their league title on Saturday, May 27 in Dusseldorf. Nerys is an often-used reserve center for the 6-3 Galaxy, who can make the championship game by winning beating the 2-6-1 Berlin Thunder this weekend. Lewis and the Fire, sitting at 5-4 after a two-game losing streak, would need to beat the suddenly hot Cologne Centurions and see the Thunder upset the Galaxy in order to qualify for the World Bowl.
Allen, at the helm of the Admirals since potential league MVP Gibran Hamdan went down with a broken ankle in Week Seven, helped his team win a potential World Bowl preview on Sunday. The Admirals scored two second-half touchdowns to beat Frankfurt, 17-12, with Allen completing 14 of 22 passes for 139 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Allen did most of his damage in the third quarter. The Buccaneer-allocated passer, who signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic last summer, started the game but was charged with a fumble on a botched snap on the Admirals' first play from scrimmage. He also absorbed two sacks to end Amsterdam's second drive, and the Admirals went with the Oakland Raiders' Reggie Robertson at quarterback in the second quarter.
Frankfurt dominated the action in the second quarter and Robertson attempted only five passes, completing one. However, the Admirals found themselves down just 6-3 at halftime after two consecutive Frankfurt drives covering a combined 27 plays and nine minutes ended in missed field goals.
Allen was put back in charge of the Admiral offense for the entire second half and he responded immediately, completing his first seven passes of the third quarter. After his 15-yard strike on third-and-10 to the Seattle Seahawks' Skyler Fulton made it first-and-goal, San Diego Chargers running back Larry Croom capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. Four plays into the fourth quarter, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Justin Perkins intercepted a Craig Ochs pass and returned it 70 yards for another score, providing Amsterdam with the eventual winning points.
As usual, Nerys began the game on Frankfurt's bench but eventually subbed in for starting center Charles Missant of the New York Jets. The Galaxy offensive line continues to be a team strength, as Frankfurt rushed for 211 yards on 39 carries (5.4-yard average) in the losing effort.
Lewis, who shares playing time with the Buffalo Bills' Fredrick Jackson in the Rhein backfield, had one of his most productive afternoons of the season on Saturday, but his team still fell behind in the World Bowl race with a 13-10 loss to the 2-6-1 Hamburg Sea Devils.
Together, Lewis and Jackson provided 92% of Rhein's offense, accounting for a 78 rushing yards and 144 receiving yards. Lewis led the way on the ground, gaining 50 yards on just nine attempts (5.6 avg.) to Jackson's 28 yards on nine attempts. Jackson topped the Rhein receiving chart with six catches for 92 yards, while Lewis chipped in with five receptions for 52 yards.
Still, the Fire's only touchdown came on defense, as former Buccaneer cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, back in Europe as a free agent without an NFL team affiliation, picked off a second-quarter Brock Berlin pass at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for the game's first score. That was enough to give Rhein a 10-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Berlin's eight-yard touchdown pass to British wide receiver Scott McCready proved to be the game-winning points.
Buccaneer guard Phil Bogle started his ninth consecutive game on the Hamburg offensive line, which has been adept at protecting the passer all season. Together Berlin, a Miami Dolphins allocate, and Todd Mortensen of the New England Patriots dropped back 35 times but were sacked only twice. On the season, Hamburg passers have been sacked a league-low 11 times in nine games despite making 292 pass attempts.
There were no playoff implications surrounding Saturday's Berlin-Cologne game, but there were Buccaneer participants, all on the Thunder sideline.
Two of the Thunder-Bucs are kickers, and a 35-7 loss to the Centurions meant a much busier day for punter Brian Simnjanovski than kicker Xavier Beitia. Simnjanovski blasted six punts for a 38.3-yard average, dropping one inside the 20 and suffering one touchback. He also attempted a seventh kick early in the third quarter but had it blocked by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Michael Gasperson. The Buc punter managed to get to the loose ball first but it still resulted in a safety when Simnjanovski was tackled in the end zone.
Beitia had just two kickoffs and one successful extra point try to take care of all afternoon. On the season, he has made all 20 of his PATs and seven of his nine field goal attempts for a total of 41 points.
The third Buc in that game was starting right outside linebacker Jermaine Taylor. He had five solo tackles in the game, though the Thunder defense gave up 451 yards of total offense. Taylor also made two kick-coverage stops and is the Thunder's leading tackler on special teams.
Two other Buccaneers who were slated to play in the 2006 NFLEL season, wide receiver Jonathan Carter and defensive tackle Keith Wright, are out due to injuries. Here is a rundown of how the seven Bucs still in action fared this past weekend in Europe:
- QB Jared Allen, Amsterdam Admirals…Started at quarterback for the second straight week and completed 14 of 22 passes for 139 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions…Played all but the second quarter and helped lead a second-half rally in a 17-13 win over Frankfurt…Also ran twice for a loss of one yard and caught one pass for a loss of 12 yards on a throw that was deflected in the backfield. * Xavier Beitia, Berlin Thunder…Made only extra point attempt but was not called upon to attempt a field goal. * G Phil Bogle, Hamburg Sea Devils…Started at right guard for ninth consecutive week and helped Sea Devils allow just two sacks on 35 drop-backs…Also blocked for 31 carries that picked up 89 yards. * RB Jacque Lewis, Rhein Fire…Rushed nine times for a team high 50 yards and caught five passes for 52 yards in loss to Hamburg…Also returned one kickoff 17 yards. * C Jason Nerys, Frankfurt Galaxy…Saw action at center as a reserve and helped Frankfurt rush for 211 yards on 39 carries (5.4 avg.) in loss to Amsterdam…Aided in Galaxy's third straight 200-yard rushing game. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Punted six times for 230 yards (38.3 avg.), with one touchback and one dropped inside the 20…Also had a punt blocked, and was tackled in the end zone for a safety while recovering the loose ball. * LB Jermaine Taylor, Berlin Thunder…Started at right outside linebacker and recorded five solo tackles on defense plus two more stops on special teams.