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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Turn Back the Clock

Repeating their 1998 feat, the Buccaneers handed a 7-0 Minnesota team its first loss of the season, 41-13


RB Warrick Dunn's hard running and one touchdown reception led the Bucs to a dominating day on offense

On Saturday night, you turned your clocks back one hour. On Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers flipped their calendars back two years.

The only difference between Tampa Bay's 41-13 win over the 7-0 Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and a 27-24 downing of a 7-0 Viking squad in 1998 was the thoroughness with which it was executed. The Bucs snapped a four-game losing streak and a typical October downturn with the victory.

Somehow, I've got to figure out how to get us through October without one of those lulls," said Head Coach Tony Dungy. "Maybe it's Daylight Savings Time."

Just as in 1998, the Buccaneers were 3-4 heading into their home showdown with the Vikings and were going through a rough period on the offensive side of the ball. And, just as in 1998, the Tampa Bay offense was so effective that the Buccaneer punter was needed for nothing more than holding on Martin Gramatica's field goals.

However, the 1998 win over a Minnesota team that would go 15-1 in the regular season was a nail-biter, while Sunday's repeat was a blowout from beginning to end.

Stunningly, the Buccaneers scored on each of their first four possessions, mixing in LB Derrick Brooks' first career touchdown to tie the team record for points in a half. At the intermission, it was 31-13 Tampa Bay and neither team had punted once.

QB Shaun King threw a career-high four touchdown passes to four different receivers, three in the first half, and was not intercepted. After DT Warren Sapp sacked QB Daunte Culpepper and forced a fumble on the Vikings' first drive of the game, King threw twice to WR Keyshawn Johnson to get the necessary 14 yards, with Johnson acrobatically getting the ball over the line of scrimmage on his nine yard catch. Johnson would finish with 121 yards on six catches, earning his first 100-yard game as a Buc.

The Vikings answered with a field goal drive, but the Bucs' next possession also went the distance, covering 64 yards on six plays. The score came when RB Warrick Dunn, who finished the game with 112 total yards, got lost in the Vikings defense and caught an easy pass from King at the left end of the goal line.

Sapp actually pulled off a repeat of his sack and forced fumble on Culpepper on Minnesota's next drive, even returning the loose ball to the eight-yard line, but the play was reversed by a replay challenge. The Vikings capitalized by driving 82 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown that closed the gap to 14-10, but Minnesota would get no closer. Moss scored the Viking touchdown with a twisting, one-hand catch, but would finish with a fairly pedestrian 65 yards before he was ejected in the fourth quarter for bumping an official.

The Bucs came right back, driving 80 yards on four plays, ending in TE Dave Moore's 23-yard touchdown on a perfect touch pass from King. Dunn got the drive moving with a season-long 36-yard run around left end.

Three plays later, LB Shelton Quarles hit Culpepper as he was throwing, forcing a floater that Brooks intercepted and returned 34 yards to put the Bucs up 28-10. When Gramatica added a 47-yard field goal after the Vikings failed on a fourth-and-two in Bucs territory, the Bucs had tied a franchise single-half scoring record with 31 points.

Any worries of a letdown in the second half were quickly assuaged by the Bucs' first drive, which not only netted Tampa Bay a field goal but also chewed eight-and-a-half minutes off the clock. The Bucs were amazingly resilient on the drive, shaking off the effects of two holding penalties and a false start infraction.

On third-and-11 from near midfield, King threw a perfect touch pass down the left sideline to Johnson, who, despite pass interference, hauled it in for a 35-yard catch. The Bucs couldn't quite get it in the end zone this time, but Gramatica restored the home team's three-touchdown lead with a 26-yard field goal.

Most of the rest of the third quarter was taken up by a plodding Minnesota drive that stalled at midfield. The Bucs allowed the Vikings to dink and dunk over the middle, then eventually stopped their progress with Ronde Barber's near interception. That resulted in the first punt of the game.

The rest of the second half belonged to the Buccaneers, too, as Reidel Anthony's touchdown catch with five minutes left was the only TD of the game after the intermission. Each team went over 400 yards of total offense (the Bucs' 413 was their most since a 428-yard outing against Detroit on 11/22/98), but the Bucs outrushed Minnesota 152-99.

More importantly, the Bucs didn't turn the ball over once while a constantly blitzing Tampa Bay defense forced three turnovers. Those takeaways led to 21 points, explaining how a Buccaneer team that had scored over 40 points just three times in the franchise's first 24 yards has now done it twice this season under new offensive coordinator Les Steckel.

On defense, CB Donnie Abraham had 11 tackles, one interception and three passes defensed and CB Ronde Barber turned in eight tackles, a sack and a pass defensed. provided detailed reports of each quarter of action during the game. Those accounts follow to offer a closer look at the Bucs' dominating victory.

First Quarter

Despite an impressive first quarter by the Buccaneers, there was a feeling of lost opportunity when the period ended, thanks to an instant-replay overturn. Still, the Bucs scored touchdowns on both of their drives and rushed to a 14-3 lead.

Minnesota's First Drive

Vikings rookie Troy Walters took Martin Gramatica's game-opening kickoff three yards deep into the end zone and shot straight upfield in a hurry, but was stopped at the 19 by LB Jamie Duncan.

On the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, QB Daunte Culpepper faked a handoff and rolled right, picking up six yards behind a Viking blocker before running out of bounds. On second down, S Damien Robinson met RB Robert Smith almost at the line of scrimmage, but Smith was able to twist sideways and fall forward for the first down at the 30.

Smith got the call again on first down and again ran into a phalanx of Buc tacklers, but did a nice job of squirting through for a pickup of eight. Feeling they had the Bucs set up, the Vikings then went deep, trying a post pass to WR Randy Moss. Moss was open, but Robinson shot over from the deep middle to break up the pass and nearly intercept it.

On third-and-four, Robinson successfully blitzed Culpepper, but missed the QB, who then made it through the line of scrimmage for a gain of five yards and another first down at the Vikings' 41.

The Vikings went back to Smith on the next snap, but DE Marcus Jones met him in the backfield for a loss of one. The Bucs came after Culpepper again on the next snap and got him this time. DT Warren Sapp bullied his way between the center and left guard and went straight at Culpepper, swiping his arm as he sacked him. The ball came loose and bounded towards the end zone, where Jones fell on it at the Vikings' 14.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

With outstanding field position, it took the Bucs only two plays to get in the end zone. On first down, WR Keyshawn Johnson went in motion from right to left, then caught a five-yard pass from QB Shaun King. On second down from the nine, Johnson found an opening on the right side and caught another quick throw from King, then turned it up and just put the ball over the goal line before he was knocked out of bounds. Tampa Bay 7, Minnesota 0.

Minnesota's Second Drive

Walters took another good Gramatica kickoff in the end zone again and came out for the second time, getting only to the 17 before LB Jeff Gooch put him on the ground.

On first down, Culpepper faked a handoff and threw to an open Cris Carter on the right side. Carter shook off one tackle to gain 12 yards before S John Lynch rode him out of bounds. On the next snap, Smith tried the middle but was stopped by Duncan after picking up just one yard.

DE Marcus Jones got outstanding pressure on the next snap and got a grasp on Culpepper's legs, but Culpepper was able to stay on his feet and deliver a quick pass to FB Jim Kleinsasser, who rumbled for 16 yards. Culpepper then zipped a hard, deep pass on the right side to Carter, who beat CB Donnie Abraham to the ball and pick up 39 yards to the Bucs' 15 before Brian Kelly tackled him.

From the 15, Kleinsasser got the handoff up the middle and netted three yards. The Bucs blitzed several players on second down but the Vikings picked it up, giving Culpepper time to throw. Culpepper's pass, however, sailed over everyone's heads and out of the end zone. The next play was nearly an instant replay, with Lynch's blitz picked up well but a hurried Culpepper throwing well over his intended receiver in the end zone.

Minnesota settled for Gary Anderson's 30-yard field goal. Tampa Bay 7, Minnesota 3.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

RB Aaron Stecker took his first kickoff return out to the Bucs' 26, where he was taken down by a trip by WR Chris Walsh. Of course, that's an illegal move by Walsh, so a 10-yard penalty was tacked on to the 36.

King tried to start with a quick slant to WR Jacquez Green, but threw it a bit high and it was incomplete. RB Warrick Dunn got a short gain up the middle on the next snap, but an offsides penalty on Minnesota gave the Bucs five yards and another crack at second down. King tried to find Johnson in the left flat on the next play but again threw incomplete.

On third-and-five, TE Dave Moore was well covered by LB Dwayne Rudd, but King was able to zip a pass into his chest for seven yards and a first down at the Bucs' 48. On first down, King's pass attempt over the middle to Johnson was tipped incomplete, but a holding penalty on Robert Griffith, who was covering Johnson, gave the Bucs five yards and a first down.

Now in Vikings' territory, King handed off to Dunn who found a big crease and made two quick cuts to pick up 10 yards. King then threw a quick pass right down the line of scrimmage to WR Reidel Anthony, a receiver screen that picked up 14 yards to the 23 thanks to a rugged block from Johnson.

With another first down to work with, Dunn released from the backfield with King in the shotgun. Dunn shot left to the sideline and was lost by the Vikings' defense, allowing King to loft an easy pass in his direction for a 23-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay 14, Minnesota 3.

Minnesota's Third Drive

Gramatica hit his kick a few yards into the end zone for the third straight time, and Walters was stopped short of the 20 for the third straight time. This time Walters veered right, but CB Ronde Barber made an excellent solo tackle at the 18.

On first down, Culpepper zipped a quick pass to Moss and the receiver cut inside for a gain of nine. The Bucs' covered Culpepper's initial target on second down, but he was able to adjust and hit Kleinsasser on the left side for a gain of six.

With a first down at the Vikings' 33, Minnesota ran a beautiful misdirection play, first faking a handoff to Smith, then faking again to a receiver on an end-around. Both Sapp and Jones bit on the second fake, giving Culpepper time to throw a screen pass to Smith. Smith had a group of blockers and picked up 15 yards before Abraham caught him. On the next play, Smith ran behind right tackle for a gain of four yards.

On the next snap, Sapp re-introduced himself to Culpepper. Rushing hard around the quarterbacks back, Sapp hit Culpepper's arm, knocking the ball loose again. When he wasn't touched after recovering the loose ball, Sapp got up and rumbled all the way to the Vikings' eight before Culpepper made the tackle.

Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the play was challenged by Minnesota and overturned, resulting in an incomplete pass and a third-and-six at the Vikings' 48. Culpepper then completed a short pass over the middle to WR Matthew Hatchette for 12 yards and a first down. That play ended the quarter.

Second Quarter

Tampa Bay never called off the dogs in the first half, scoring on their first four possessions and adding a defensive touchdown. The result was a 31-13 lead over the Vikings, tying a Tampa Bay record for most points in a half.

Minnesota's First Drive

The Vikings started the second quarter with a first down at the Bucs' 40. QB Daunte Culpepper threw a quick four-yard pass to RB Robert Smith, then handed off to Smith for three more up the middle.

On third-and-three from the Bucs' 33, a short pass to Cris Carter was broken up CB Ronde Barber. The Vikings chose to go for it on fourth down and succeeded when Culpepper stood in against a strong rush and delivered an eight-yard pass to Carter over the middle.

With a new first down at the Bucs' 25, Culpepper was flushed out of the pocket by DT Warren Sapp and forced to throw the ball away. Culpepper then faced another all-out Buc blitz and hit Carter again over the middle, moving the ball down to the Bucs' seven. On the next snap, WR Randy Moss made a one-handed circus catch in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay 14, Minnesota 10.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

RB Aaron Stecker downed Gary Anderson's kickoff deep in the end zone for a touchback.

On first down, the Bucs lined up with FB Mike Alstott alone in the backfield, but QB Shaun King passed instead, hitting WR Keyshawn Johnson for a 23-yard gain. The big plays continued on the next snap as RB Warrick Dunn shot up the middle, juked two Viking tacklers and bounced off another before he was brought down at the Vikings' 21. After that gain of 36, Alstott pounded up the middle for one yard.

On the next play, QB Shaun King set a new career high by throwing his third touchdown pass of the game, this one a perfect touch pass to TE Dave Moore, who had gotten behind the defense for a 20-yard reception. Tampa Bay 21, Minnesota 10.

Minnesota's Second Drive

After Troy Walters brought the resulting kickoff out to the Vikings' 24, Culpepper dropped back and completed a five-yard pass to WR Randy Moss. Smith then picked up two yards running up the middle, setting up a third-and-three and another big play by the Tampa Bay defense.

With at least two blitzers bearing down on Culpepper, the QB threw the ball wildly as LB Shelton Quarles hit him. The floater was intercepted by LB Derrick Brooks, who returned it 34 yards for his first career touchdown. Tampa Bay 28, Minnesota 10.

Minnesota's Third Drive

Walters got to the 28 with his next kickoff return, and Culpepper immediately stretched the Vikings to midfield with a 21-yard scramble.

Culpepper tried to get the rest on the next snap with a pump-and-go pass to Carter on the left sideline, but the ball was overthrown. His next pass was under-thrown as he tried to fire the ball to the right side. Carter then made an amazingly acrobatic catch on third-and-10 to pick up nine yards and set up fourth-and-one at the Bucs' 43.

The Vikings went for it again on fourth down, but with less success this time. Faking a handoff, Culpepper turned and tried to throw a quick slant to Carter in single coverage, but his pass was out of Carter's reach.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

The Bucs thus got possession at their own 43 and kept the attack on, going back to the pass. QB Shaun King found Johnson cutting deep across the middle for a gain of 24 yards. The Bucs were called for holding on the next snap, resulting in a first-and-20, and King's next pass went over the head of Jacquez Green on a slant.

The Vikings came on a blitz on second-and-20, but King got the pass up, only to see CB Robert Tate break it up as Green tried to make a leaping catch. King went back to Green over the middle on third down, and Green made the catch and broke free of one tackler but could get only 15 of the needed 20.

That put the Bucs well within Martin Gramatica's range, however, and the second-year kicker calmly hit a 47-yard field goal. Tampa Bay 31, Minnesota 10.

Minnesota's Fourth Drive

Walters was knocked out of bounds at the 25 this time, setting up the Vikings' sixth possession of the game.

Culpepper threw to a wide-open Moss on first down, but Moss dropped it and the deflection was nearly intercepted by CB Donnie Abraham. The Bucs brought strong pressure on second down without a blitz, but Culpepper got away from DT Anthony McFarland and completed a 17-yard pass to WR Matthew Hatchette.

Smith took the ball up the middle on the next snap but was stopped by McFarland for no gain. The Vikings successfully picked up another Buccaneer blitz, but Culpepper threw to low for an open Carter to make the catch on the left sideline. On third-and-ten, Culpepper again evaded the rush long enough to complete a short pass, dumping it over the middle to Smith for a gain of 14 and a first down at the Bucs' 45.

Culpepper had a blitzer in his face on the next first down and tried to throw a quick pass to Hatchette, but Abraham closed quickly and broke up the pass. Culpepper's next pass was a quick dump to Smith, but he was stopped after picking up just five. Culpepper went back to Smith on third-and-six and got him for seven more and a first down at the Bucs' 33. The Vikings then called timeout with 1:15 left in the half.

The Bucs backed off on the next snap and Brooks came up to break up a pass intended for RB Moe Williams. Culpepper scrambled right on a designed play on second down and picked up four, then threw to Moss on the left sideline for 13 more yards to the Bucs' 17.

CB Ronde Barber then broke through on a blitz and caught Culpepper for a sack of two yards. With an injured Abraham on the sideline, Culpepper tried to pick on fill-in Dexter Jackson, a safety playing corner, but Jackson broke up a pass attempt in the end zone. On third-and-12, Culpepper threw incomplete in Carter's direction. The Vikings then settled for Anderson's 37-yard field goal. Tampa Bay 31, Minnesota 13.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

Stecker took Anderson's short kickoff back to the Bucs' 28, and King kneeled on one snap to end the half.

Third Quarter

It was close to a perfect third period for a team enjoying an 18-point lead. The Buccaneers drained half of the clock with their first drive, then stopped a lengthy Viking march at midfield to force the game's first punt. Tampa Bay's field goal was the only scoring of the period and the Bucs stepped into the final period with a 34-13 lead.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

A holding penalty on the opening kickoff forced the Bucs to start at their own nine to open the second half, but RB Warrick Dunn got the Bucs over the 20 with consecutive runs of nine and six yards, one to the left and one to the right.

Dunn continued to slash through the Viking defense with another handoff on first down, picking up five more yards. FB Mike Alstott got the call in the jumbo package on second down but was stopped after a one-yard gain. After a false start penalty made it third-and-nine, QB Shaun King tried to hit WR Keyshawn Johnson on a quick slant. Though the pass was incomplete, the Vikings were called for pass interference and the Bucs got a new set of downs at the 31.

On the next snap, King faked a handoff to Dunn and threw over the middle to WR Jacquez Green, who hauled in the ball for an 18-yard gain. However, a holding penalty forced the Bucs back 10 yards and set up a first-and-20 at the 39.

Dunn got the call on the next snap and tried to cut left, but was stopped by a hard hit after no gain. Dunn found more room to run on second down and picked up nine yards to the left. That set up a third-and-11, and King converted it by throwing deep on the left sideline to Johnson. Johnson drew another pass interference penalty but also caught the ball for a 35-yard gain.

King stood in the pocket for a long time on first down but eventually threw in the flat to WR Reidel Anthony, who picked up five yards. King converted the next first down on his own, taking a keeper up the middle to pick up five yards and a first down at the 10. A sweep by Dunn picked up two yards and an attempted fade pass to Anthony failed to find its mark.

On third-and-goal from the eight, King rolled right but couldn't find an open man and threw it away as he was hit from behind. The Bucs settled for Martin Gramatica's 26-yard field goal , recapturing their three-touchdown lead. Tampa Bay 34, Minnesota 13.

Minnesota's First Drive

Viking rookie Troy Walters had difficulty picking up a bouncing kickoff, but still managed to slice for 18 yards out to the Minnesota 21.

Culpepper was flushed from the pocket on first down by DT Anthony McFarland, but he was able to dump it off to TE John Davis for an 11-yard gain. A handoff to RB Robert Smith was good for just one yard, but Smith picked up four more on a screen pass that CB Ronde Barber prevented from going for much more.

On third-and-five, Culpepper faced yet another Buc blitz, but got the throw off for an eight-yard gain to WR Randy Moss. With a first-down at the Viking 45, Culpepper dumped another pass off to Smith to pick up four yards. A delayed handoff went to Smith on second down and he picked up two more yards before LB Jamie Duncan wrapped him up.

The Vikings were unable to convert this third-and-short, however, when Barber stuck to Cris Carter like glue and nearly intercepted a soft pass over the middle. Mitch Berger came on for the first punt of the game and drove it well into the end zone for a touchback.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

Now in cahoots with the game clock, the Bucs went to the ground. Dunn got the first handoff to the left side, then cut back behind a glut in the middle and picked up nine yards. RB Aaron Stecker moved the sticks with a three-yard run around left tackle. King then concluded the third quarter with a 13-yard rifle pass to Green.

Fourth Quarter

The Bucs did more than enough in the fourth quarter, keeping Minnesota out of the end zone and adding one more touchdown for insurance. The thorough second-half domination allowed Tampa Bay to turn a 31-13 halftime lead into a 41-13 victory.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

The Bucs began the final period with the ball and a first down at their own 45. After drawing the defense offside, King took advantage of a free play to throw deep, but it was picked off inconsequentially by the Vikings. On first-and-five, FB Mike Alstott pounded up the middle for four yards, setting up a second-and-one.

That's prime Alstott territory, and the big back jumped over a glut at the line of scrimmage and continued on for a pickup of eight yards to the Vikings' 38. King then threw deep to Green down the left sideline, but it was just beyond his grasp. When an open man failed to materialize on the left on second down, King turned right and was immediately sacked by Fred Robbins for a loss of six.

King found a new target on third-and-16, throwing to RB Aaron Stecker, who was stopped just one yard short of the sticks. A fourth-and-one rush by Alstott fell just inches short, giving the ball back to Minnesota.

Minnesota's First Drive

Taking over after the loss of downs at their own 29, the Vikings got a first down with a quick 11-yard pass to Moss. One more play, a 12-yard pass to Moss, got Minnesota into Bucs' territory.

A quick rush by DT Warren Sapp on the next fourth down caused Culpepper's pass to Moss to float, and it was nearly intercepted by CB Donnie Abraham. Culpepper then tried to laser one into Cris Carter on the left side, but CB Brian Kelly broke it up with a near interception.

Facing a third-and-ten and another all-out Buc blitz, Culpepper dumped a pass off to Carter, crossing from left to right, and Carter got all the way to the Bucs' 32.

However, Sapp got in Culpepper's head again, chasing him towards the right sideline. Culpepper threw back across the middle and it was easy pickings for Abraham, who got his fourth interception of the season.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

Still the Bucs didn't pull in the reins. Alstott barreled around the left end for a breakaway run that picked up 14 yards and might have been more but for a shoestring tackle by S Robert Griffith. King faked a handoff on second down and threw deep over the middle to Johnson for a gain of 25 more to the Vikings' 36.

Then it was back to Alstott, for eight yards on first down and four on second. With a first down at the 24, Dunn got the next carry and made it around the left corner for a gain of nine. Dunn's next carry resulted in a loss of one yard, but on third-and-two, the Bucs went for not only the first down but all the marbles. King stood in the pocket for a long time, then delivered a touch pass to WR Reidel Anthony for a 16-yard touchdown just inbounds on the right side. Tampa Bay 41, Minnesota 13.

Minnesota's Second Drive

After Martin Gramatica's kickoff went to the back of the end zone for a touchback, the Vikings started out at their own 20, four touchdowns down.

Culpepper opened the drive with a five-yard pass to Hatchette, then handed off to Smith, who darted for 21 yards to the Viking 46. Culpepper's next pass went in and out of the hands of TE John Davis for an incompletion, but Carter hauled in the next pass and danced down the right sideline for a pickup of 14 yards.

With the Bucs' defense laying off somewhat, Smith was able to shoot through a gap on the left side and blast for 17 more yards to the 23. Kelly went for the interception on a quick pass to Hatchette and missed, though he did get up to make the tackle on Hatchette at the 10-yard line.

With another first down, Culpepper was quickly swarmed by DE Chidi Ahanotu, but he stayed up long enough to dump a pass off to Moe Williams for five yards. After a Viking timeout, Culpepper tried to hit Moss on a fade to the right as the blitz came, but overthrew it. On third-and-goal, another fade pass to Moss on the opposite side was broken up by Kelly, and Moss was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after arguing a little too stringently and making contact with the official.

That set up a fourth-and-20, and Culpepper couldn't convert, throwing the ball out of the back of the end zone.

Tampa Bay's Third Drive

All that was left for the Buccaneers to do was drain 106 seconds from the clock. Alstott was called on to accomplish that duty and immediately picked up 12 yards on a run up the middle. To no one's surprise, Alstott got the ball again on the next snap and ran left for four more yards. A kneeldown ran out the clock and ended the game.

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