BUCS OFF TO WORST START SINCE 1991 The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost at home to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, 17-6. The Bucs had two costly turnovers that led to both of the Falcons’ touchdowns.
The Bucs have lost three straight games and six of their last seven contests. Sunday’s loss to Atlanta means Tampa Bay will finish 0-6 in the NFC South division this season. It also means the 3-10 Bucs are off to their worst start since 1991.
That’s the bad news. The good news is the Bucs can’t finish any worse than the 1991 team, which produced a 3-13 record under head coach Richard Williamson.
GRADKOWSKI BENCHED Midway through the fourth quarter of Tampa Bay’s game vs. Atlanta with the Bucs failing to put the ball in the end zone for the second straight game, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden decided to make a change at the quarterback position, benching rookie Bruce Gradkowski in favor of backup Tim Rattay.
Gradkowski completed 13-of-24 passes for 121 yards before being benched. Rattay didn’t fare much better, completing 9-of-13 passes for 83 yards on two offensive drives, neither of which produced points.
Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t scored a touchdown since the second quarter of its game vs. Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. Gruden said the team would wait until later this week to announce which quarterback will start next Sunday in Chicago.
QUESTIONABLE HANDS? For the second straight game, Bucs running back Cadillac Williams fumbled the football. On Sunday, Williams fumbled late in the fourth quarter after getting tackled from behind by a Falcon defender. That turnover gave the Falcons the ball on the Bucs’ 13-yard line. Atlanta turned that turnover into seven points a few plays later. Williams rushed 20 times for 48 yards (2.4 avg.) vs. the Falcons Sunday.
ALUMNI WEEKEND Tampa Bay conducted and concluded its first-ever NFL Alumni Weekend ceremony at halftime during Sunday’s game between the Buccaneers and Falcons. Over 100 former players from the Bucs’ 31-year history were honored at halftime.
Three former Bucs players, Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, Tony Mayberry and Hardy Nickerson served as honorary captains for the game’s coin toss. Mayberry replaced James Wilder, who was unable to attend Sunday’s contest.
ALSTOTT HITS 5,000-YARD MARK Bucs fullback Mike Alstott’s 17-yard run in the second quarter of Sunday’s game helped him eclipse the 5,000-yard rushing mark for his career. The “A-Train” finished Sunday’s game with two carries for 20 yards and now has 5,003 yards rushing for his 11-year career.
JUST FOR KICKS Bucs kicker Matt Bryant connected on a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter. It was his 10th straight successful field goal attempt. He is now 12-of-15 (80 percent) on the season. Bryant connected on his 11th straight field goal on a 26-yarder in the second quarter to make him 13-of-16 on the season. However, midway through the second quarter, Bryant’s 51-yard field goal missed, which brought his total to 13-of-17 on the season.
BUCHANON DEBUTS AS STARTER Tampa Bay cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who signed with the team as a free agent in October, made his first start as a Buccaneer Sunday, starting in place of Juran Bolden, who is battling a hip injury. With 2:07 remaining in the second quarter and the Falcons inside Tampa Bay’s 10-yard line, Buchanon picked off Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s fade pass in the corner of the end zone intended for wide receiver Ashley Lelie. It was Buchanon’s first pick as a Buc, and that play preserved Tampa Bay’s 6-0 lead. Buchanon finished the contest with three tackles and two passes defensed.
INACTIVES The following players were inactive for Tampa Bay’s game vs. Atlanta: QB Luke McCown, CB Alan Zemaitis, S Donte Nicholson, C Nick Mihlhauser, T Donald Penn, TE Doug Jolley, WR Mark Jones and DE Charles Bennett.
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