QB Shaun King found the right targets at the right times on Sunday in Atlanta
Not too long ago, a 68-point explosion over two weeks would be major news for the Buccaneers. Not any more.
With Tampa Bay averaging nearly 26 points per game this season, consecutive high-scoring games are no longer a shocker. It's not even the Bucs' best two-game stretch of the season, as they scored a combined 72 against Chicago and Detroit in weeks two and three.
However, second-year QB Shaun King is still finding ways to set new standards. After tossing four touchdown passes (and no interceptions) in the Bucs' 41-13 plastering of the Vikings the previous Sunday, King aired out three more scores (and one pick) at Atlanta on Sunday.
That total of seven touchdown passes in back-to-back games equals the highest total in Buccaneer history and matches an accomplishment no Tampa Bay hurler had achieved since 1983. The two-game, seven-TD-pass feat has happened on just two other occasions in team annals, when Jack Thompson did it against Houston (4) and San Francisco (3) in late '83 and when Doug Williams achieved it versus Pittsburgh and Minnesota in November of '80.
More importantly for the here and now, King has the approval of his coach in how the offense has been run during this critical two week stretch.
"Well, for two weeks we have been (effective), but it's a long year and the real test is doing it consistently," said Dungy. "We've got to get a little streak going, but certainly last week and this week, this is how you'd like to see us play."
King's passer rating over the last two games is 112.6, bringing his overall season mark up to 80.2. That might sound modest, but keep in mind that the Bucs' single-season record in that category is 85.3, and King is in his first full season as a starter. The mark currently belongs to Steve DeBerg, who compiled that rating in 1987.
In addition, King now has 13 touchdown passes, a nine-game pace that would lead to 23 by the end of the season. That would also be a Buccaneer record, topping the 21 Trent Dilfer had in 1997 and again in 1998.
Against the Vikings the week before, King was brilliant, hitting throw after throw and only throwing six incompletions in 26 aerials. He wasn't as sharp against Atlanta, completing just 11 of 25 throws, but he was just as adept at coming up with the big play when it mattered.
That was best illustrated during the Bucs' final touchdown drive, an 80-yard march that put Tampa Bay up 27-7 early in the fourth quarter and basically sealed the contest. Facing a third-and-nine at their own 21, the Buccaneers eschewed the short pass and gambled long, with King throwing a beautiful fade pass to WR Jacquez Green. Green had just a short stop on the defender, Ray Buchanan, but King dropped it right into the basket for a 35-yard gain.
The Bucs were facing another third down seven plays later, needing six yards at the Atlanta 29. This time, King threw another pass over the top, hitting WR Keyshawn Johnson in stride over the middle as Johnson reached the end zone.
"I thought Shaun did a good job," said Dungy. "They make it difficult. He had the one bad play where we throw an interception and take points off the board. That was really the tough one. Other than that, I thought he handled the ball well and got the ball to the right guys and made the big throws when we needed it."