Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Too Much Green

The Bucs’ last chance to get a division win in Lambeau falls one point short thanks to the running of Ahman Green and an ill-timed special teams play

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TE Dave Moore gave the Bucs a first-half lead with this touchdown, but Tampa Bay was unable to hold on to the winning edge

Green.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were overwhelmed by Green on Sunday and left Lambeau Field seeing red.

RB Ahman Green took a third-quarter handoff off right tackle late in the third quarter and found nothing but green ahead of him. The resulting 63-yard touchdown run swung the tide in Green Bay's 21-20 come-from-behind victory over the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay was able to maintain a six-point lead deep into the fourth quarter, but a 55-yard punt return by Allen Rossum rescued a Green Bay offense that Tampa Bay had smothered on the three previous drives.

Tampa Bay's 12-year drought in Wisconsin thus remained intact, and the soon to be ex-NFC Central denizens will not be back until 2005.

Though the Bucs professed a fondness for Lambeau Field in the week leading up to the game, perhaps a break from the annual Green Bay trip would be best. The Bucs have become all too familiar with the sight of Packer QB Brett Favre leading fourth-quarter, game-winning drives in this venue. Even when the Bucs managed to stop Favre, Green Bay's special teams came up with the big play.

The Buccaneers were out-gained in the game, 352 yards to 194 but built their lead on the strength of three turnovers. Interceptions by Donnie Abraham and Jamie Duncan and a forced fumble by Dexter Jackson set up all three scores as Tampa Bay surged to a 17-7 lead.

Green finished the game with 218 total yards, including a career 169 on the ground. Buc runners were limited to 61 yards on 23 carries, with fullback Mike Alstott finding little room to run and gaining just 30 yards on 17 carries. QB Brad Johnson had another efficient day passing the ball, completing 18 of 31 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but the sack bug once again hit the Bucs' offense. Johnson was dropped seven times for 44 yards in losses, bringing Tampa Bay's season total to 27 sacks allowed.

Still, despite the yardage discrepancies, it appeared that the Bucs would get their first win in Lambeau since 1989 when Johnson hit Alstott on a perfectly-timed screen pass early in the third quarter. Green Bay was clearly blitzing the middle of the defense on the play, which started at Green Bay's 19, perhaps expecting another Alstott run. Instead, Alstott sprinted right, Johnson lobbed the ball over a blitzer's head and the fullback rumbled 19 yards for the score.

It was the 44th touchdown of Alstott's career, leaving him only two shy of the team's record, owned by James Wilder. Wilder, coincidentally, presented Alstott with his Miller Lite NFL Player of the Week award on Wednesday for Alstott's three-touchdown day against Minnesota. On this day, however, the Bucs' inability to get Alstott and the running game established in the second half after the team had built it's 10-point lead left Green Bay with too many chances to rally.

The Packers scored first in the game, taking their opening possession 57 yards for a touchdown, as Favre hit WR Antonio Freeman on a sharp seam pass from 21 yards out. The Bucs didn't answer in the first quarter but scored twice in the second period.

Green Bay had a chance to put the game away early, having driven down to the Bucs' 19-yard line to start the second quarter. However, Abraham intercepted an out pass intended for Freeman and returned it 46 yards to the Packers' 38 before being dropped by a vicious clothesline tackle by G Mike Wahle. The Bucs got down to the Packers' 15 but had to settle for Martin Gramatica's 33-yard field goal.

Two drives later, Jackson stripped Green of the ball and DT Warren Sapp recovered, giving the Bucs possession at the Packers' 41. Johnson ran for 21 yards on one play, zipped a 22-yard completion to WR Keyshawn Johnson and finished the drive with a third-down, 11-yard strike over the middle to TE Dave Moore.

With the score, his 23rd as a Buc, Moore moved into a tie for fourth on the team's all-time touchdown receptions list with former WR Bruce Hill.

That touchdown also gave the Bucs' a 10-7 lead, which they maintained despite a furious two-minute drill by the Packers. A roughing-the-passer penalty on LB Derrick Brooks that was difficult to discern on replay kick-started a drive that reached the Bucs' eight. However, a chop-block penalty on the Packers' Mike Flanagan pushed Green Bay back 15 yards and Ryan Longwell then missed on a 41-yard field goal try.

The Bucs won the turnover battle, 3-0, a circumstance that had led to a 31-4 record for the Bucs from 1996-2000. This year, Tampa Bay is 2-3 in that situation. One more turnover probably would have made the Bucs 3-2, as S Dexter Jackson's sack of QB Brett Favre midway through the fourth quarter resulted in a loose ball deep in Packer territory. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Green Bay tackle Mark Tauscher recovered, allowing the Packers to punt out of danger.

Gramatica added a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that was set up by a pass-interference call, but that left the Bucs only six points ahead. Rossum's punt return came three minutes later, after a long Josh Bidwell punt and two Buccaneer penalties had pushed Tampa Bay back towards its own end zone.

Keyshawn Johnson, the NFC's leading receiver entering the weekend, had a game-high six receptions for 63 yards, including an acrobatic 22-yarder late in the fourth quarter after Rossum's touchdown. Jackson finished with seven tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and a pass defensed. LB Derrick Brooks led the Bucs' defense with 11 tackles and a pass defensed. Abraham's interception was the 27th of his career, leaving him just two shy of the Bucs' career record, held by Cedric Brown. Abraham did not play in the fourth quarter after suffering a back contusion.

The loss drops Tampa Bay to 3-4 for the fourth consecutive season. Green Bay improves to 5-2.

Buccaneers.com provided quarter-by-quarter reports of the action in the Gameday section during the contest. Those reports follow to offer a closer look at the action.


First Quarter Report

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