WR Jacquez Green is looking forward to the opportunities created by Keyshawn Johnson's presence
By Andrew Mason, NFL.com
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in hurry-up mode when they approached the line of scrimmage with 35 seconds remaining in the first half of their 21-16 victory over the New England Patriots Sunday.
Tampa Bay had the ball first-and-goal at the eight-yard line, but the clock was still running and the Bucs had no timeouts left.
The plan as to what the Bucs were going to do next seemed obvious: Have quarterback Shaun King spike the ball on first down to stop the clock, and then loft a pass to Pro Bowl wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who was acquired during the offseason for the sole purpose of being the primary scoring threat.
Obvious to all but the Buccaneers, that is.
What Tampa Bay did instead was turn in perhaps the craftiest play in franchise history — a fake spike-turned-touchdown to fourth-year wideout Reidel Anthony.
"It's something that we've been practicing during training camp. We even have it in our playbook; it's one of our special plays," Anthony said. "We audibled to it, and it just so happened that it worked."
It worked because while King feigned a clock-stopping spike and the offensive linemen held their position, New England cornerback Kato Serwanga made a slight pause, enabling Anthony to get past him.
"Everybody (on the defense) was relaxed," Anthony said. "I stood out there like I wasn't going anywhere, then he snapped the ball and I just stood there. When I saw (the corner) look in, I just ran into the coffin corner, and Shaun put it in there right on time.
"I know it won't work for a while, so we'll have to wait a couple of weeks (before trying it again)."
To the Bucs, it was simply a well-executed play that caught the opposition off guard. To the Patriots, it was an assignment poorly executed.
"We obviously blew it," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "There is no explanation. We blew it."
But it wasn't the only time the Buccaneers' "other" receivers had their way with the Patriots. While Anthony had the lone touchdown catch of the group, it was Jacquez Green — not Johnson — who led the team in receiving yardage. He had 67 on two receptions, including a 33-yarder that set up Anthony's score.
The two University of Florida products were tabbed in back-to-back drafts with the intention of being the team's starting duo. That changed when Johnson arrived, as Anthony eventually settled in as the No. 3 wideout.
But both are grateful for Johnson's presence — for reasons on and off the field.
Having Keyshawn really just opened it up for me and Jacquez," Anthony said. "The only thing now is that we've just got to take advantage of it, and I feel like me and him did that today. We had a lot of one-on-one coverage and we won most of our one-on-one battles."
While Green made the most of his individual matchups (thanks in part to the attention Johnson drew from Patriots defenders), he also relished the fact that Johnson draws a crowd away from the field.
Following the game, the gregarious wideout found himself surrounded by a herd of media members. For a while, there were more people clamoring for Keyshawn than for the rest of the Buccaneers combined.