Buccaneer K Todd France has already scored 43 points through just four NFL Europe games
Todd France is on a roll, and so are his Hamburg Sea Devils.
In NFL Europe League play on Saturday, France booted field goals of 47, 37 and 22 yards against Frankfurt, helping the Sea Devils to their second straight win. Those efforts made France, one of 10 players allocated to the NFLEL by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the league's Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in a month.
In fact, Buccaneer players have captured three of the four special teams honors so far this season. France won the award in Week One after nailing five field goals, and Brian Simnjanovski took it in Week Two after a strong day of punting for the Berlin Thunder.
France, who has previously competed for the kicking jobs with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, signed with the Buccaneers on January 14, then headed off for his second NFLEL tour. He has been NFL Europe's best kicker so far, nailing 11 of 13 field goal tries and making a series of long-range shots. France's performance overseas can only help his fortunes in the battle to win the Buccaneers' job this fall.
After nailing three of four field goal tries and all three extra point attempts in Saturday's 30-10 win over the Galaxy, France had scored a league-leading 43 points through four games. He is on pace to break the NFLEL's records for points (85), field goals made (23) and field goals attempted (27). All three records were set by Scott Szeredy of the Barcelona Dragons in 1995.
On Saturday, France's three field goals provided the game's first nine points, as the Sea Devils, the league's newest team, opened up a 16-0 lead en route to a 30-10 decision. The Hamburg attack rolled up 477 yards of offense but took some time to find pay dirt.
"For whatever reason, we're still having a problem getting the ball in the end zone when we're inside the 20-yard line," France told NFLEurope.com, "but I guess that's good for me because it gives me an opportunity to show what I can do. I think I'm doing pretty good and as long as we're winning, that's great."
Two other Buccaneer-allocated players tasted victory in that game, as wide receivers Derek McCoy and Terrance Metcalf contributed to Hamburg's 384-yard passing game. With NFLEL Offensive Player Casey Bramlet (a Bengals allocate) at the helm, Metcalf caught two passes for 52 yards and McCoy added one 12-yard catch. McCoy continued to start in the Sea Devils' three-receiver package.
Metcalf's big play was a 42-yard reception on third-and-one at the Hamburg 11, a pass actually thrown by backup quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie (Bears). That was the big play in an impressive, 98-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, ending in Dinwiddie's five-yard scoring pass to his teammate back in Chicago, running back Zack Abron.
The Sea Devils' opponent, Frankfurt, also rotates quarterbacks each week, generally splitting the game between Tampa Bay's Akili Smith and the New York Jets' Kevin Eakin. This week, the Galaxy threw Houston's B.J. Symons into the mix as well, and the three combined to complete 20 of 34 passes for 219 yards and two interceptions.
Smith started the game and threw 14 passes, completing nine of them for 97 yards. Two were intercepted. He also ran twice for nine yards. Symons recorded the Galaxy's only touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
It was a tougher week for the four Buccaneer allocates on the Cologne Centurions' roster, although safety Kalvin Pearson and defensive tackles Bryan Save and Delbert Cowsette continued to make strong contributions. The Centurions lost a 37-24 decision to the Amsterdam Admirals, suffering their first defeat of the season to fall into a first-place tied with Amsterdam and Berlin.
The Bucs' three defenders all started for Frankfurt. Pearson, playing strong safety, contributed four tackles, while Cowsette and Save, the starting tackles combined for three tackles and a pass defensed. Cowsette was responsible for the pass breakup as well as one of the tackles. The fourth Buccaneer on Cologne's roster, guard Mitch White, did not play due to injury.
The final two Buccaneer allocates were on opposite sidelines in an exciting, 30-28 Berlin victory over the Rhein Fire. Simnjanovski's Thunder rallied for the game's final nine points in the fourth quarter to defeated the Fire, as cornerback Jermaine Mays of the Minnesota Vikings set up the game-winning field goal with a late fourth-quarter interception off Rhein quarterback Scott McBrien, a Packers allocate.
Simnjanovski punted three times in the Berlin win, averaging 41.3 yards per kick and pinning one of the three inside Rhein's 20. As Berlin was actually out-gained in the game, 383 to 263 total yards, Simnjanovski's field position work was critical.
Cornerback Blue Adams helped hold that Berlin yardage total down, tying for the team lead with six tackles and adding two passes defensed. Adams started at left cornerback for the Fire for the fourth straight week.
Here's a rundown of the 10 Buccaneers allocated to the NFL Europe League this spring and how they performed in Week Four:
- CB Blue Adams, Rhein Fire…Led the team with six tackles and two passes defensed against Berlin. * DT Delbert Cowsette, Cologne Centurions…Registered one tackle and one pass defensed against Amsterdam. * K Todd France, Hamburg Sea Devils…Connected on field goals of 47, 37 and 22 yards against Frankfurt. * WR Derek McCoy, Hamburg Sea Devils…Caught one pass for 12 yards against Frankfurt. * WR Terrance Metcalf, Hamburg Sea Devils…Hauled in two passes for 52 yards, including a 42-yard reception against Frankfurt. * S Kalvin Pearson, Cologne Centurions…Recorded four tackles against Amsterdam. * DT Bryan Save, Cologne Centurions…Registered two tackles against Amsterdam. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Punted three times for a 41.3 average against Rhein. * QB Akili Smith, Frankfurt Galaxy…Completed nine of 14 passes for 97 yards against Hamburg. * G Mitch White, Cologne Centurions…Did not play against Amsterdam.