BUCS’ ALL-WHITE UNIFORMS ARE ALRIGHT To combat the sweltering temperatures at Raymond James Stadium for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay wore white pants along with white jerseys. While the kickoff temperature was 91 degrees, the heat index was above 100 degrees for the 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff, and the move paid off as the cooler Bucs prevailed 19-3 over the dark jersey-clad Bills.
Sunday marked just the fifth time that the Bucs have worn their all-white uniforms since they were unveiled in 1997. Tampa Bay is now 3-2 when it wears all-white during the regular season. The last time the Bucs wore all-white was in Jon Gruden’s first game as Tampa Bay’s head coach – a 26-20 overtime loss to New Orleans on opening day in 2002.
HOME SWEET HOME Tampa Bay’s 19-3 victory over Buffalo marked the first home-opening win for Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, who was 0-3 prior to Sunday. The Pewter Pirates’ last home-opening win was a 14-10 triumph over Green Bay in 2001. Tampa Bay is now 12-18 all-time in its home openers.
FLAG FEST ON SPECIAL TEAMS After racking up 13 penalties for 99 yards last week in their win at Minnesota, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers accumulated an amazing 13 penalties for 99 yards against Buffalo. Of the Bucs’ 13 infractions, seven of them were on special teams, including 15-yard personal fouls on Earnest Graham and Jermaine Phillips.
In a play that resembled a folly against Jacksonville this preseason, the Bucs were flagged three times on one punt in the first quarter of their contest with the Bills. An illegal touching call on cornerback Juran Bolden negated his downing of the ball at the Buffalo 4-yard line. On the re-kick, defensive end Dewayne White was flagged for a false start. On the third re-kick, White was flagged for ineligibly being downfield. As a result, the Bills started their second possession of the game on their 27-yard line.
Bolden would redeem himself in the second quarter by downing a Josh Bidwell punt inside the Buffalo 1-yard line. That play led to a safety three plays later.
SAFETY FIRST When Tampa Bay blitzed Buffalo on third-and-7 from the Bills’ 4-yard line, cornerback Ronde Barber, strong safety Jermaine Phillips and middle linebacker Shelton Quarles were in hot pursuit of Bills quarterback J.P. Losman in the end zone. When Quarles closed in on the Buffalo signal caller, Losman stepped on the backline of the end zone and the Bucs were awarded a safety. Quarles was credited with a sack on the play, which was his first of the season.
Quarles’ safety was the ninth in Tampa Bay history. The Bucs’ last safety came in 2003 when New York Giants long snapper Carson Dach hiked the ball through the end zone.
GROUND GAME CHEWS UP TIME OF POSSESSION Tampa Bay’s newfound running game, which is averaging 168.5 rushing yards per game this year, thanks to 191 yards on 40 carries (4.8 avg.) against Buffalo, helped the Bucs win the time of possession battle 38:50 to 21:10. Tampa Bay’s ground attack led to a 20:44 to 9:16 time of possession advantage in the first half.
Once again, rookie running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams led the Buccaneers with 128 yards rushing on 24 carries (5.3 avg.) and scored one touchdown. Michael Pittman also chipped in 46 yards on seven carries (6.6 avg.), including a 24-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Fullback Mike Alstott rushed for 19 yards on six carries (3.2 avg.) against the Bills and scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge. That score was Alstott’s 50th career rushing touchdown, which is a franchise record. The Bucs are 41-9 all time when Alstott scores a touchdown. He now has a team record 62 scores (50 rushing and 12 receiving).
As a result of their strong running game, the Bucs converted 7-of-14 third downs (50 percent) against the Bills.
DOMINANT BUCS DEFENSE, PART II Against Buffalo, Tampa Bay’s defense picked up where it left off from last week’s 24-13 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings. Not only did the defense help key the Buccaneers’ 19-3 victory over the Bills by scoring the team’s first two points on a safety, Tampa Bay held Buffalo to just 147 total yards. In fact, the Bucs outgained the Bills 145-51 yards in the first half while building a 9-3 lead.
Tampa Bay’s defense forced Buffalo into seven three-and-out, punting situations out of 10 total possessions in the game. The Bills’ initial and only first down in the first half came at 1:54 mark in second quarter. That helped Buffalo put together a drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Rian Lindell. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay had accumulated 11 first downs in the first half and finished with 18 in the game compared to Buffalo’s eight.
While the Bucs did not record any turnovers on defense, Tampa Bay did record two sacks – middle linebacker Shelton Quarles’ safety and a QB takedown by defensive end Simeon Rice. Cornerbacks Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber dropped potential interceptions inside the Buffalo 20. Weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks, who had two pass breakups, including one in the end zone on fourth down to keep Buffalo out of the end zone, also dropped a potential interception earlier in the game.
Buffalo quarterback J.P. Losman, who was making his second NFL start on Sunday, finished the game 12-of-29 for 113 yards. He started the game 1-of-7 for 4 yards and ended the first half completing only 2-of-9 passes for 13 yards.
Tampa Bay’s run defense, which came under question from the media and the fans in the preseason, was once again up to the challenge by holding Buffalo’s stud rusher, Willis McGahee, to just 34 yards on 13 carries (2.6 avg.). A week after limiting Minnesota to just 33 rushing yards, the Bucs held Buffalo to 47 yards on 17 carries (2.8 avg.).
The Bills could only convert 4-of-14 (29 percent) third down conversions against Tampa Bay’s stout defense, which has only surrendered three field goals and not allowed a touchdown in the first two games of the 2005 season. Against Buffalo, Quarles and Barber led the Bucs with six tackles.
Buffalo’s longest play of the game was a 30-yard catch by receiver Josh Reed. It was the only Bills offensive play to travel further than 20 yards.
The only fault of Tampa Bay’s defense today was four offsides penalties. Barber, Ellis Wyms and Greg Spires (twice) were guilty of jumping offsides.
BUCS INACTIVES Here are Tampa Bay’s inactives for Sunday’s game against Buffalo: cornerback Torrie Cox, safety Donte Nicholson, tackle Chris Colmer, guard Matt Stinchcomb, wide receivers Paris Warren and J.R. Russell and nose tackle Jon Bradley. Luke McCown was designated as the team’s emergency quarterback.
TAMPA BAY INJURIES The Bucs indicated that running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams suffered a sprained arch in Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills. Free safety Dexter Jackson suffered an undisclosed injury on the opening kickoff, but returned to play after the first defensive series. Defensive end Greg Spires appeared to hurt his arm in the second half, but Bucs coach Jon Gruden did not comment on any injury to Spires.
BUC SHOTS Buccaneers Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, who was decked out in his orange number 63 jersey, was Tampa Bay’s honorary captain at the coin toss for its game against Buffalo … Will Allen got his first NFL start at free safety after Dexter Jackson got hurt on the opening kickoff. Jackson later returned and played the majority of snaps at free safety. … Cornerback Juran Bolden also got his first start as a Buccaneer as Tampa Bay opened up in nickel defense. … Safety Kalvin Pearson, who was promoted from the Buccaneers practice squad earlier this week, saw his first regular season NFL action on Sunday on the opening kickoff team. … The Bucs have started off 2-0 for just the sixth time in franchise history (2005, 2000, 1997, 1992, 1980 and 1979). … With a sack on Sunday, defensive end Simeon Rice has two on the season and leads Tampa Bay in that category. … Rookie middle linebacker Barrett Ruud led the Bucs special teams with two tackles on Sunday. … The paid attendance for Sunday’s game against Buffalo was Paid 64,777 fans. … With a field goal against Buffalo, new Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant is 2-of-2 for the 2005 season in the field goal department. … Bucs quarterback Brian Griese was 16-of-22 for 136 yards and was sacked only once by Buffalo. … Tampa Bay wide receiver Michael Clayton led all receivers with six catches for 84 yards, including a 34-yarder in the fourth quarter. Fellow receiver Joey Galloway was held without a catch.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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