Bucs offense falls just short in loss to Rams
By Jeremy Rutherford
Of the Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004
It wasn't Steve Young and Jerry Rice out there Monday night, but the Tampa Bay
duo of Brian Griese (No. 8) and Michael Clayton (No. 80) looked pretty sharp in
the Bucs' 28-21 loss to the Rams.
Griese, making his first start at quarterback for the Buccaneers, completed 27
of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Clayton, the Bucs' heralded
rookie receiver, hauled in eight catches for 142 yards.
That anemic Tampa Bay offense that Buccaneers fans have watched all season
played its most productive game. The 21 points and three offensive touchdowns
were the most in six games for the Bucs (1-5).
"We're not chopped liver," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "We're going to be
better. I think the last three weeks we've played better offensively. It's just
too bad that we don't get more out of our drives."
Tampa Bay, which came into the game with the No. 25-ranked offense in the NFL,
totaled 332 yards against the Rams.
But the Bucs' undoing was two missed field goals by Martin Gramatica - from 35
and 48 yards - and a costly fumble by Michael Pittman that resulted in the
Rams' go-ahead touchdown.
Adam Archuleta returned it 93 yards for a 21-14 Rams' lead.
"We can't turn the ball over like that," said Griese, who completed his first
nine passes Monday. "I thought we had a chance even at the end of the game."
Griese threw an ill-advised interception in the end zone with 5 minutes 42
seconds left in the game with the Rams leading by the final margin.
Otherwise, the Bucs were a lot more effective than anyone anticipated.
Griese played in relief of Chris Simms (shoulder) last week. He completed 16 of
19 passes in a 20-17 win over New Orleans. His nine-for-nine start Monday gave
him a stretch of 25 completions on 28 attempts.
"He runs around, he makes plays, he made some great audibles, threw some timely
beautiful passes on third down," Gruden said. "I don't know what I don't like
(about Griese), that's a better question."
And what's not to like about Clayton, who caught four of Griese's first nine
balls, one for 44 yards. That set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pittman, giving
the Bucs' a 14-7 lead.
Clayton is "going to be a great player in this league," Gruden said. "He
ignited us and made some big plays and was special."
The Bucs thought they had made another big play at the end of the game. A long
pass to receiver Tim Brown that set up the offense deep in Rams territory was
ruled a fumble by instant replay.
"I didn't see the play," Griese said. "It's unfortunate. We might have had a
chance there. We had plenty of time to take a couple of shots at the end zone."
Gruden was upset with the review decision, but knew that the Bucs had other
"Certainly not turning the ball over could have been the beginning of a great
evening offensively," Gruden said. "But you've got to make plays down there."