WR Chad Lucas Several receivers stepped up and made big plays for the Bucs vs. the Patriots, including Antonio Bryant and Maurice Stovall. But Lucas, who is on the outside looking in in terms of the battle for a 53-man roster spot, dropped a touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Simms in the corner of the end zone midway through the third quarter. The drop came on a second-and-goal play from the 5-yard line. Tampa Bay wound up having to settle for a field goal on the drive. Lucas did not catch any passes on Sunday night.
QB Chris Simms Expectations were set high for Simms on Sunday night after Brian Griese and Luke McCown completed a combined 16-of-20 (80 percent) passes for 123 yards and each signal caller led drives that resulted in touchdowns. But Simms couldn't continue the impressive trend at the quarterback position. He completed 2-of-4 passes (50 percent) for 24 yards. While he was a victim of a dropped touchdown pass by WR Chad Lucas, Simms took two sacks and had his other incompletion come as a result of a tipped pass near the line of scrimmage. Simms led a scoring drive that resulted in a field goal as well, but the offense went just 24 yards on nine plays after cornerback Elbert Mack's interception in the third quarter.
TE John Gilmore/S Tanard Jackson/WR Maurice Stovall After Tampa Bay played a penalty-free game in its preseason opener vs. Miami last week, three Bucs players – Gilmore (holding), Jackson (illegal block in the back) and Stovall (fair catch interference) — were called for infractions vs. New England on Sunday night. Those three flags were the only things standing in the way of the Bucs playing another penalty-free game. While this criticism might be picky in nature, it qualifies as disappointing seeing as how impressive Tampa Bay's overall performance was vs. New England en route to a 27-10 win on Sunday night.
RB Kenneth Darby The Bucs rushed for 170 yards (4.7 avg.) vs. the Patriots on Sunday night. Michael Bennett and Clifton Smith averaged 7.1 and 5.0 yards, respectively, per carry, and even though Earnest Graham averaged just 2.6 yards per carry, he scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. While he didn't play horribly, Darby needed to make more of his opportunities. He carried the ball nine times for 33 yards (3.7 avg.). His longest run was a 12-yarder and he also hauled in a pass for 11 yards. In the third quarter, Darby fumbled a handoff from QB Luke McCown. Luckily, he managed to recover the loose ball.
QB Josh Johnson The good news is Johnson has completed 2-of-2 (100 percent) of his passes in preseason. The bad news is the rookie signal caller played like one vs. the Patriots on Sunday night. Johnson completed his first and only pass of the game to WR Cortez Hankton for a 6-yard gain. Other than that play, Johnson appeared to have a tough time reading the defense and seeing the field. The most disappointing aspect of Johnson's play was his inability to make more plays while scrambling, which was something he did extremely well at the Div. I-AA level in college. Johnson, who has 4.45 speed, scrambled twice on passing downs and produced minus-1 yard as a result. To make matters worse, on one particular play he scrambled right into linebacker Vince Redd for a 10-yard sack and loss in the fourth quarter.
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