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Quarterback Brad Johnson had a sub-par performance against the Raiders, completing 22-of-36 passes (61 percent) for 309 yards and tossing two touchdowns and one interception. Johnson engineered two scoring drives in the first half, but those drives ended in field goals, not touchdowns. A 31-yard pass to running back Charlie Garner and a 54-yard strike to wide receiver Bill Schroeder highlighted those two scoring drives. Of Tampa Bay’s 19 first downs against Oakland, 12 of them came via the passing game. A few of his positive pass plays were a result of his sells on play-action passes.
Johnson misfired on several pass attempts to open receivers, including fullback Jameel Cook, wide receiver Bill Schroeder, WR Michael Clayton, running back Jamel White, and he was nearly intercepted by Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha in the fourth quarter.
Johnson’s pass attempt in the third quarter near the left sideline intended for tight end Dave Moore was picked off by Raiders cornerback Phillip Buchanon and returned 32 yards for a touchdown. Johnson had absolutely no zip on that pass attempt, which put the Bucs in a 23-6 hole.
With Oakland leading Tampa Bay 30-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Johnson took advantage of the Raiders’ conservative defense, which didn’t blitz the quarterback a whole lot with such a big lead, by engineering two scoring drives that resulted in touchdowns. Johnson’s first TD pass of the game and season was a 16-yard strike to wide receiver Tim Brown. His second TD pass went Schroeder, who hauled in a 41-yard pass for the score, which made the score 30-20.
Johnson’s errant passes proved to be costly. Although he had sufficient time to throw throughout the game, Johnson appeared to be uncomfortable in the pocket at times, which caused the veteran quarterback to scan the field too quickly, resulting in missed pass-play opportunities to receivers that had gotten open.
*Tampa Bay converted 3-of-13 (23 percent) third down attempts.
Tampa Bay’s ground game struggled to get on track against Oakland. The Bucs lost tailback Charlie Garner, who hauled in a receiver screen pass from QB Brad Johnson and worked his way upfield for a 31-yard gain before being caught from behind by Oakland defensive end Warren Sapp on the first drive of the game, in the second quarter with a severe right knee injury. Garner, who is likely out for the season, had to be carted off the field and finished the game with two catches for 34 yards and six carries for 11 yards (1.8 avg.).
Bucs fullback Mike Alstott carried the ball 12 times for 65 yards (5.4 avg.), but his longest run of the game, a 32-yarder, came on the last play of regulation when the Raiders were in a prevent defense. His biggest contributions came via the passing game, where Alstott hauled in four passes for 30 yards, including a 17-yarder in the flat off a play-action fake from Johnson on the first drive of the game.
Jameel Cook started at fullback for the Bucs. Greg Comella, who had started the past two games at FB, was inactive for Sunday night’s game.
Backup RB Jamel White carried the ball one time for three yards and hauled in a 12-yard pass.
*The Bucs rushed for 92 yards rushing against the Raiders.
Tampa Bay’s wide receiving corps had fallen under some heavy criticism before Sunday night’s game in Oakland due to their inability to get separation from defenders and make plays in the passing game, but this unit came up with several big grabs in Oakland.
Bucs wide receiver Bill Schroeder, who started at the split end (X) position, hauled in four passes for 126 yards (31.5 avg.) and one touchdown. His first reception came in the second quarter when a nice play-action from QB Brad Johnson got Schroeder open for a 56-yard gain, which put the Bucs on the Raiders’ 16-yard line. His touchdown reception came with just under 2:00 remaining in the game when Johnson hit him in stride for a 41-yard strike and score, which made the score 30-20.
Tim Brown caught four passes for 41 yards and scored one touchdown. His 16-yard touchdown reception, which was Tampa Bay’s first offensive score of the year, came in the fourth quarter off of a nice play-action fake and nicely thrown pass from Johnson. That was Brown’s 100th career touchdown reception. Brown played an integral role in leading the Bucs downfield on that 13-play, 62-yard scoring drive, but he otherwise had a quiet game against his former team.
Rookie WR Michael Clayton caught two passes for 32 yards. He caught a 26-yard reception in the fourth quarter, which helped to set up Schroeder’s touchdown a few plays later. Clayton also hauled in a 20-yard reception near the end of the second quarter, but that play was negated by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty called on the rookie. Both Clayton and Schroeder were open on a few more occasions, but Johnson, for whatever reason(s), didn’t see them on those particular plays. Johnson also misfired on a couple of pass attempts intended for those two receivers.
Charles Lee caught one pass for an 11-yard gain.
*Tampa Bay produced 389 yards of total offense against Oakland.
The Bucs lost tight end Rickey Dudley in the first quarter due to a hand injury. Head coach Jon Gruden suggested after the game that Dudley could be lost for the season.
Bucs TE Ken Dilger caught two passes for 14 yards, including an 11-yarder that came late in the fourth quarter. Dilger caught a pass that converted a 2-point conversion play after WR Tim Brown’s touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
Long snapper/backup TE Dave Moore replaced Dudley and caught one pass for a 2-yard gain on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either. Although the offensive line had a couple of breakdowns, including a few by right tackle Todd Steussie and right guard Cosey Coleman, this unit gave quarterback Brad Johnson a good enough pocket to throw out of for the most part. This group did a sub-par job of opening holes for the running backs, but it did a nice job of keeping the defenders off of Johnson while he completed several throws off play-action fakes. Johnson was sacked twice by the Oakland Raiders. One of those sacks came off a corner blitz by Charles Woodson.
Oakland’s offensive line absolutely dominated Tampa Bay’s defensive line on Sunday night. The Bucs’ starting front four, made up of defensive ends Simeon Rice and Greg Spires and defensive tackles Anthony McFarland and Chartric Darby — was nowhere to be found in terms of quarterback pressures and run defense, and it was blown off the ball way too often in this contest.
This unit failed to sustain any kind of pass rush. In fact, not one member of Tampa Bay’s front four knocked an Oakland quarterback to the ground until the third quarter of Sunday night’s game. The Bucs also allowed the Raiders to open up some serious holes in the ground game. Raiders tailback Tyrone Wheatley took one of his first carries of the game 60 yards, which later led to a field goal. Wheatley finished the game with 18 carries for 102 yards (5.7 avg.) and one touchdown, which came on a 2-yard run in the third quarter.
It really didn’t seem to matter who was carrying the ball for the Raiders. Tailback Amos Zereoue rushed six times for 41 yards (6.8 avg.), including a 17-yarder, and backup RB Justin Fargas carried the ball six times for 28 yards (4.7 avg.), including a 15-yarder. Oakland produced nine first downs on running plays.
As a result of their lack of pass rush and inability to halt the Raiders’ ground attack, the Bucs defense surrendered 399 yards of offense in Oakland and allowed the Silver and Black to produce long drives that entered their red zone six different times. The Raiders punted for the first time with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Spires and DE Dewayne White each recorded two tackles. Rice and Darby each recorded on tackle. McFarland didn’t record a single tackle against the Raiders. Rice, who was the first defensive lineman to get a hand on Raiders QB Kerry Collins (didn’t happen until the third quarter, though), was credited for a sack in the fourth quarter after Collins slid to the ground.
*Tampa Bay’s defense allowed Oakland to rush for 173 yards and failed to produce any kind of pass rush on Sunday night.
Bucs weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks had an outstanding game against the Raiders, notching a team-high 11 tackles. Brooks’ biggest play of the game came in the first quarter when he knocked Raiders QB Rich Gannon out of the game with a huge helmet-to-helmet hit on the signal caller’s scramble near the goal line. Not only was the play legal, but it was a huge hit and stop, which forced the Raiders to kick a field goal.
Middle LB Shelton Quarles had six tackles and strongside LB Ian Gold finished the game with two.
*Oakland produced 23 first downs against Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay’s secondary allowed Oakland’s receivers to make some big plays downfield, but this was ultimately a result of the front four’s inability to put pressure on the Raiders quarterbacks.
Raiders QB Kerry Collins replaced Rich Gannon in the first quarter and completed 16-of-27 (59 percent) passes for 228 yards and tossed one touchdown and one interception. Collins’ touchdown strike came in the second quarter when he hit wide receiver Ronald Curry, who was covered by Bucs CB Mario Edwards, on a receiver screen for a 19-yard touchdown. Edwards, who finished the game with three tackles, got blocked out of the play by Raiders WR Jerry Rice.
Cornerback Brian Kelly had an outstanding game against the Raiders, recording five tackles and intercepting Collins and returning it 16 yards in the fourth quarter. Kelly also had several nice pass breakups, including a play in the first quarter where he dove and got a hand on a pass in the end zone that would have been a touchdown to WR Jerry Porter.
Cornerback Ronde Barber tied LB Derrick Brooks for the team lead in tackles with 11. While he had an active night, Barber was penalized twice – once for illegal contact downfield on defense and a personal foul unnecessary roughness penalty on special teams.
Bucs free safety Jermaine Phillips missed an open field tackle on RB Tyrone Wheatley on his 60-yard run in the first quarter. In the third quarter with the Raiders inside the Bucs’ 10-yard line, Phillips dropped what should’ve been a pick inside the end zone. On the very next play, the Bucs stopped the Raiders on third down and had apparently forced a field goal attempt, but Phillips was flagged for a personal foul face mask penalty, which gave the Raiders offense a fresh set of downs and eventually a touchdown. Phillips finished the game tied for the team lead in tackles with 11.
Bucs strong safety Dwight Smith made the touchdown-saving tackle on Wheatley’s long run in the first quarter. He finished the game with seven tackles.
*Oakland converted 6-of-13 (46 percent) of its third down attempts against Tampa Bay.
This unit was without kick returner Frank Murphy, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Bucs second-year cornerback Torrie Cox handled kickoffs and averaged 25.6 yards per return on five attempts.
Bucs punter Josh Bidwell was outstanding again, averaging 44 yards per attempt on Sunday night. Raiders punt returner Phillip Buchanon fielded two punts for just 4 yards.
Kicker Martin Gramatica drilled 30- and-36-yard field goal attempts, but he missed his last attempt, a 46-yarder.
Tampa Bay’s kickoff coverage unit allowed Oakland KR Doug Gabriel to return a kickoff 64 yards in the first quarter, but rookie safety Will Allen forced him to fumble and linebacker Ryan Nece did a nice job of recovering the fumble before the ball could roll out of bounds. Gabriel averaged 36.3 yards per return on four attempts.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden did a nice job of mixing up his playcalling against the Raiders. Unfortunately for Gruden, he didn’t have the weapons to execute some of those plays, and there were too many times when quarterback Brad Johnson was missing wide open targets. Still, Gruden helped Johnson move the ball by calling plenty of play-action fakes. Gruden deserves credit, or blame, depending on how you look at it, for sticking with Johnson through the first three quarters of the game while the Bucs trailed by as many as 24 points.
Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s troops couldn’t sustain any kind of pass rush, and when he sent blitzes, the Raiders picked most of them up, which led to some big run and pass plays. However, it wasn’t Kiffin’s fault that tackles were being missed and battles were being lost in the trenches.
The Bucs were penalized eight times for 56 yards.
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