By JOHN ROMANO, Times Sports Columnist
Published October 11, 2004

THE GREAT QB EXPERIMENT: Moving Brad Johnson out of the way did not instantly create a potent offense, but it did give the Bucs additional options. Instead of scaling back the game plan for the new QBs, the Bucs opened with more rollouts, along with five- and seven-step drops.

RIGHT IDEA, WRONG OFFSPRING: Bucs fans were clamoring for the son of a Super Bowl hero at quarterback. Turns out, they were off by a couple of Roman numerals. It wasn't the son of Phil Simms (Super Bowl XXI), but the son of Bob Griese (Super Bowl VII and VIII) who rescued a season. Griese had the most accurate day for a Bucs QB in 12 years.

BUT WHAT'S A SACK?: It is not our wish to inundate with technical terms and football jargon. But if the defense continues in this fashion, it may come in handy down the road. Remember when Ronde Barber picked up a loose ball and scored? How about when Brian Kelly caught a pass thrown by Aaron Brooks? Apparently, those are called turnovers.

REALITY TIME: Keenan McCardell's holdout will end soon. Only a fool would continue to throw away money, time and reputation. Keenan, the Bucs have moved past rock bottom and ain't looking for you in the rearview mirror.

THE BEST YET: The long touchdown pass to Ken Dilger was great. The field-goal drives were nice, too. But the greatest sign yet for this offense was the way it held the ball the final three minutes. The game was on the line, the Saints were desperate and the Bucs still imposed their will.

A LIST OF FIVE


Five signs the Bucs still have work to do:

5. Corey Ivy is confused. First make a tackle, then you can taunt.

4. When his paper is delivered, Tim Brown signals for a fair catch.

3. Only team in the league with a Social Security cap.

2. Brad Johnson still offering updates on his stats.

1. Barber leads team in TDs.

5 FORGOTTEN MOMENTS

DIRTY WORK: Griese threw it, Dilger caught it, but Michael Pittman was responsible for the 45-yard TD. Pittman picked up linebacker James Allen on a blitz, allowing Griese time to find Dilger.

SHORT AND SWEET: We have come to loathe 6-yard completions on third and 11, but in this case it might have been the difference in the game. When Will Heller put the Bucs in a hole with a penalty, Griese moved them back into range for a 53-yard field goal with a short pass to Brown.

THE PROPER ASSIST: For the second straight week, the line did not get a sack, but Greg Spires forced the fumble that led to Barber's TD.

A GENIUS AGAIN: He has taken heat for the offensive woes, but Jon Gruden had a splendid game plan. The end-around to Michael Clayton on third down kept the first scoring drive alive.

A HAPPY RETURN: Torrie Cox set the stage for the clock-killing drive by running through or around five tacklers on a kickoff.

FIVE SUPER PICKS

Checking out the best bets for Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville:

1. EAGLES: Off week allows Donovan McNabb to do eight more commercials.

2. PATRIOTS: Can't accuse this contender of a flip flop.

3. COLTS: They are 26-11 under Tony Dungy.

4. JETS: Joe Namath is ready to hit the champagne.

24. BUCS: Beat the Rams and match 2003's longest win streak.

FINAL FIVE WORDS

Put away the paper bags.

[Last modified October 11, 2004, 10:08:00]