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[Bucs] It's A Start

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  • [Bucs] It's A Start

    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 11, 2004




    NEW ORLEANS - For the first time since December, a scoreboard clock wound down to zero with the Bucs holding a lead Sunday.
    You wouldn't have known it from walking through their locker room.

    The Bucs' 20-17 victory against the Saints produced the season's first collection of postgame smiles, but some frowns remained.

    ``It's hard to celebrate right now,'' linebacker Derrick Brooks said. ``There definitely are some heavy hearts in here.''

    The heaviest belonged to quarterback Chris Simms, who couldn't finish his first pro start after spraining his throwing shoulder on a first-quarter sack.

    As of late Sunday, no one was sure just when the left- handed Simms would be able to make his second pro start.

    Simms was saying he could return to face the Rams next Monday, but he still wasn't able to lift his left arm over his head when he said that.

    ``Do I think I'm going to be out a month? No, I don't think so,'' Simms said. ``With some heavy massage, I should be able to play next week.''

    Bucs coach Jon Gruden wasn't ready to rule Simms out of next week's game, either.

    ``He's day-to-day,'' Gruden said. ``That's really just about all I can say on the matter right now.''

    The good news is that X-rays came up negative. An MRI is scheduled for today to confirm the nature of the injury.

    The better news is that just about everything backup quarterback Brian Griese did after taking over for Simms was positive.

    In his first regular-season action as a Buc, Griese completed 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown and helped Tampa Bay (1-4) break a six-game losing streak. The Bucs won on the road for the first time since their last visit to New Orleans on Dec. 7.

    ``He did a heck of a job out there,'' Gruden said of Griese. ``He should be the story today.''

    He's certainly a big part of it. But so too is Jeff Gooch, the backup middle linebacker who did a credible job as a fill-in himself.

    Gooch replaced starter Shelton Quarles, who left the game in the first quarter with a quad strain, and led the defense with nine tackles.

    ``You really have to appreciate the work of guys like Brian Griese and Jeff Gooch,'' Brooks said. ``We had guys make some attitude plays today.''

    Cornerback Ronde Barber made one. He picked up a second-quarter Deuce McAllister fumble and carried it into the end zone for the Bucs' first touchdown.

    Fellow cornerback Brian Kelly, who picked off an Aaron Brooks pass to snuff out a late New Orleans drive, also had one of those plays. And so did running back Michael Pittman.

    On third-and-5 just before the two-minute warning, Pittman eluded three would-be tacklers and picked up a first down on a 10-yard run that allowed the Bucs to run out the clock.

    ``That's what we have to have, guys refusing to go down, guys wanting to make big plays,'' Derrick Brooks said. ``We got that today and now we have to keep going with it. We found something to build on.''

    The offense certainly did. With rookie Michael Clayton making almost as much of an impact as a runner (two carries, 24 yards) as he did a pass catcher, the Bucs offense moved the ball consistently.

    Simms directed the Bucs to their first score, a Martin Gramatica field goal, after a 70- yard drive that ended only after Clayton failed to maintain possession after an apparent catch in the end zone.

    Simms went down at the end of the next drive, injuring his shoulder after being sacked by defensive end Will Smith, but Griese soon began moving the team.

    He marched the Bucs 41 yards in six plays to set up a 53- yard Gramatica field goal in the second quarter and finished off a 71-yard drive in the third quarter by hitting a wide- open Ken Dilger with a 45-yard touchdown pass.

    ``We were just trying to stay out of the third-and-long plays as best we could and things worked out for us,'' Griese said. ``I felt real good out there. I felt a real energy with the offense.''

    He wasn't the only one. Barber, whose fumble return gave the Bucs a lead (13-7) they never relinquished, said he also got some rare positive vibes from the offense.

    ``We needed something positive out of the guys on that side of the ball and we got it,'' Barber said. ``It was nice to see the offense play like that and help win a game for us.''

    Most, including Griese, admitted it would have been even nicer had Simms been able to lead that offense from start to finish Sunday.

    ``I really feel for him,'' Griese said. ``I mean, he was so excited and I love that kid. And I really feel like he'd earned his shot.

    ``But I also feel that I can still play and I think I proved today that I can move the offense here. I hope it's going to be a steppingstone for us.''

    Gruden seemed to think it would be. Though upset by the loss of Simms, he saw enough Sunday to walk away thinking the season may yet be salvaged.

    ``It's a start,'' he said as he headed toward the team bus, ``it's a start.''

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  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Son of a Gun
    by DJRamFan
    The Bucs get their first victory behind a strong-armed, Super Bowl winning QB's kid, but not the one expected.
    By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
    Published October 11, 2004

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NEW ORLEANS - It was the kind of introduction every quarterback dreams of.

    The Bucs had a new voice in the huddle Sunday that dripped with confidence, a new arm that zipped crisper passes and a new leader for the first victory of the season.

    He was that breath of fresh air for a stale season, the son of a famous NFL quarterback who missed only three receivers all day.

    After throwing the winning touchdown to defeat the Saints 20-17, he is almost certain to be the starter Oct.18 at St. Louis.

    It is his time, his moment, except for this:

    He is Brian Griese, not Chris Simms.

    Simms' first NFL start ended after 19 plays when he was sacked by end Will Smith near the end of the first quarter and strained his left (throwing) shoulder. X-rays did not show any structural damage. He was scheduled for an MRI exam this morning but is day to day.

    Griese entered with the Bucs trailing 7-3 and completed 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown to tight end Ken Dilger on the first series of the second half.

    He also completed two third-down passes during the fourth quarter, one during the final drive to help ice the game, and finished with a passer rating of 126.8.

    "It's an unfortunate situation for Chris, and I really feel for him," Griese said. "He's so excited. He was so ready to play. And then for this to happen to him, it hurts him. It hurts the team. A lot of guys feel for him, and hopefully, he can come back as soon as possible.

    "He's a great kid, and he's going to be a great player for a long time. But for me, personally, it's a great situation to get an opportunity to come out and prove I can lead the offense. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm going to continue to get ready like I have been."

    Simms said his left arm was in an awkward position when Smith landed on him but doesn't believe the injury will force him to miss more than a week. He said it was similar to an earlier injury.

    "I feel like I'm going to be fine," said Simms, the son of former Giants Super Bowl quarterback Phil Simms. "I didn't feel anything weird. It felt just like it did my senior year with my right arm down in Texas. I told them right away. I think it just stretched out.

    "I've just got a little bit of a heavy heart just because I wanted to be out there with the guys. I wanted to be out there and have that feeling of winning the game. But that's football. I can remember my dad going through things like these."

    ...
    -10-11-2004, 01:20 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Barber takes career, season scoring lead
    by DJRamFan
    By DAVE SCHEIBER, ROGER MILLS
    Published October 11, 2004

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NEW ORLEANS - Cornerback Ronde Barber traversed some familiar terrain Sunday, helping boost the Bucs to their first victory of the season and running into the record book.

    Barber's 18-yard return of a Deuce McAllister fumble in the second quarter not only gave Tampa Bay the momentum with a 13-7 lead, it marked the seventh time in the regular season (and eighth overall) No.20 has been seen racing into the end zone with a defensive touchdown.

    Barber also leads the Bucs this season with two touchdowns. Tim Brown , Bill Schroeder , Michael Clayton and Ken Dilger have one.

    Sunday's touchdown, triggered when end Greg Spires stripped the ball, also moved Barber one ahead of linebacker Derrick Brooks for the franchise record.

    "Me and Derrick have had a running competition for a couple of years now, and we keep saying to stay even with each other," Barber said. "But I told him I'm leaving him (behind) now."

    Across the locker room, Brooks wasn't buying it.

    "It's like that old rabbit and turtle," he said. "You jump out of there. And before you know it, you take a rest, and that turtle is going to catch you." But he added with a smile, "As long as we're scoring them, that's all that matters."

    Barber agrees.

    Last week, he talked about the lack of big plays by the defense. But that changed Sunday with pivotal plays such as Brian Kelly 's interception at the Bucs 17 that squelched a fourth-quarter drive with Tampa Bay guarding a 20-14 lead.

    "Whatever it takes," said Barber, who returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown against New Orleans on Dec.23, 2001. "I'm just proud of how we all hung in and got a win."

    STEPPING UP: Linebacker Jeff Gooch was thrust into action when leading tackler Shelton Quarles left the game in the first quarter with a quadriceps strain. But Gooch picked up where Quarles left off, leading the Bucs with nine tackles.

    "We count on Shelton Quarles to do a lot in this defense," Gooch said. "And when I came in, I didn't want there to be a drop-off at all.

    "I wanted it to seem like Shelton was not even missed."

    Gooch is no stranger to the Bucs, having played for them from 1996-01 then spending the previous two seasons with Detroit.

    "It makes you feel good to be a big part of a big win," he said. "It feels really good especially because I was here before and part of building this team. Any time you get a chance to come back and help out again, that's huge."

    LONG DISTANCE: Martin Gramatica equaled his third-longest field goal...
    -10-11-2004, 01:25 PM
  • RamWraith
    Bucs offense falls just short in loss to Rams
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -10-19-2004, 01:13 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Griese Is The Word At QB
    by DJRamFan
    By KATHERINE SMITH [email protected]
    Published: Oct 12, 2004






    TAMPA - Brian Griese walked into the Bucs' meeting room Monday and eased himself into a chair.
    The seventh-year quarterback was a little more sore than in past weeks after significant playing time in the Bucs' 20-17 victory against New Orleans on Sunday. Griese plans on being just as sore next week following the Monday night game at St. Louis, where he will get his first start as a Buccaneer.

    Griese came in at New Orleans after Chris Simms, making his first NFL start, went down in the Bucs' second offensive series with a sprained left shoulder. An MRI revealed no extensive damage that would require surgery, Coach Jon Gruden said Monday, and Simms is listed as doubtful for the Rams game.

    Griese, the former Denver and Miami quarterback who signed with the Bucs in March, wouldn't speculate if the starting job is now his to lose.

    ``I have no idea,'' Griese said. ``I just found out [Monday] morning that I was going to play this week, so I'm happy about that. I'm happy about the opportunity to go out on Monday night. What a great stage, so I'm just excited about that.``

    Gruden was noncommittal on how long Griese would remain the starter.

    ``We're just going to deal with the reality of business. Chris is hurt,`` Gruden said. ``If Chris had stayed healthy and played like he was playing, he would continue to be our starter. He's not healthy. He's hurt. Brian Griese did a heck of a job. He's starting.``

    Griese completed 16 of 19 passes Sunday for 194 yards, finishing with a passer rating of 126.8. He led scoring drives of 41 and 71 yards, the longer drive capped off with his 45- yard touchdown pass to tight end Ken Dilger.

    But the most impressive drive may have been the game's last, during which the Bucs converted two key third downs to run out the clock.

    ``I can't really say that in my years of coaching, that I have seen a guy come in, off the bench, and play that well in a situation where we really needed him to do that,'' Gruden said. ``He sparked us. He ignited us. He made some great plays in the game.''

    Griese likes the responsibility that comes with the quarterback role in Gruden's offense. That was evident during the Bucs' final drive Sunday when Griese threw on three consecutive downs and converted a third-down play with a 14-yard pass to Michael Pittman.

    ``I like how much the offense is put in the quarterback's hands,'' Griese said. ``They really require the quarterback to pull the trigger, put the team in the right play, to make the right reads and to win the game.

    ``I've been in places where games have been taken out of the quarterback's hands.``

    Though Gruden said a decision on who would back up Griese would be made later...
    -10-12-2004, 07:46 AM
  • RamDez
    Fumbled Away -Buc Press
    by RamDez
    Fumbled Away

    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 19, 2004
    ST. LOUIS - They had you believing, didn't they? For nearly four full quarters Monday night they had you believing the way baseball fans in Houston and Boston are believing today.



    That's what the Bucs did Monday night. They instilled belief in their legions of followers. For nearly four full quarters, they had you believing that this once lost season would not only live on, but also live on with a purpose.

    Now, there's no telling where the Bucs will go. Or who will lead them there.

    Before Tim Brown's fumble with 26 seconds left brought an end to what proved to be a 28-21 Rams victory at the Edward Jones Center, Brian Griese looked like he had pushed Chris Simms back down the depth chart.

    He had resurrected an offense that has struggled all season long to find the end zone, putting on a dazzling show of his own in a building that houses what has become known as the Greatest Show on Turf.

    It was an offensive high wire act in which rookie receiver Michael Clayton ran up more than 100 yards in receptions for the first time in his career but still couldn't outshine Rams receiver Torry Holt.

    Holt proved to be the hero in this one, catching two touchdown passes including the game-winner, a 36-yard catch that came after he slipped behind Bucs nickelback Mario Edwards near the end zone.

    ``I want to tip my hat to Tampa,'' Holt said afterward. ``It's fun playing these guys; they challenge you on every single play.''

    The Bucs challenged the Rams, but in the end it was mistakes that once again cost the Bucs, who turned the ball over four times in dropping to 1-5.

    There was Brown's fumble at the end of a 21-yard pass play that put them within easy striking distance of the goal line.

    There was center John Wade's fumble of a snap to Griese at the Bucs 5 that the Rams quickly turned into a touchdown.

    There was Jerametrius Butler's interception of a Griese pass on the next-to-last offensive drive of the night for Tampa Bay.

    There was Adam Archuleta's 93-yard return for a touchdown of a Michael Pittman fumble midway through the fourth quarter.

    And there was kicker Martin Gramatica's misses of field goal tries of 35 and 48 yards in the first half.

    ``We missed two field goals and fumbled in the red zone twice,'' Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. ``I'm fully responsible for this mess, with all these turnovers; we might be the best 1-5 team in history. We did it to ourselves.''

    The mistakes rendered meaningless not only another solid effort by Griese, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but also one of the best efforts of the season by the Bucs defensive front four.

    That unit got four sacks, including two by Greg...
    -10-19-2004, 02:51 AM
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