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Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in over the past several weeks, but he still put up some impressive numbers (15-of-21 for 210 yards) and engineered 57, 67, 62 and 51-yard scoring drives, all of which ended in touchdowns for the Bucs. Griese didn’t look that comfortable behind his offensive line, which allowed him to get sacked seven times last Sunday in Atlanta. That, along with the shoulder injury he sustained in the game against the Falcons, might help explain his two ill-advised passes to San Francisco safety Tony Parrish, whose first pick stalled Tampa Bay’s drive inside San Fran’s 10-yard line. Parrish’s second pick came in the second quarter when he underthrew wide receiver Joey Galloway. Although Parrish returned the ball to Tampa Bay’s 32-yard line, San Francisco failed to make its 50-yard field goal attempts. Griese’s most impressive throw of the game came with 42 second remaining in the second half when he hit wide receiver Joe Jurevicius in stride for a 42-yard score, which put the Bucs up 21-0. Griese placed that great throw in-between two defenders. Earlier in that quarter, Griese hooked up with Jurevicius for a 9-yard score, which capped off a 9-play, 57-yard drive. Griese performed well overall, but his two turnovers kept the Bucs from making the game an even bigger blowout.
Backup QB Chris Simms entered the game with about six minutes remaining. He didn’t attempt a pass and was sacked once on a bootleg
*Tampa Bay was 7-of-12 (58 percent) on third down attempts Sunday.
Bucs running back Michael Pittman had a very productive game against the 49ers, rushing 21 times for 106 yards (5.0 avg.) and two touchdowns. His first score came in the first quarter when he took a handoff from QB Brian Griese and showed great burst through the hole on his way to scoring from 14 yards out. In the third quarter, Pittman scored from six yards out. Pittman did a nice job of following his blocks, many of which were provided by fullback Mike Alstott, especially on toss sweeps, and converted a couple of key short-yardage tries to keep drives going. In addition to his contributions in the running game, Pittman did a nice job of picking up some defenders in the offensive backfield.
Alstott, who did a great job in terms of lead blocking Sunday, carried the ball seven times for 21 yards (3.0 avg.). Alstott threw a terrific lead block on Pittman’s 14-yard score in the first quarter. The “A-Train” actually scored a touchdown in the first quarter on a two-yard run, but left guard Matt Stinchcomb’s false start penalty negated the score. Two plays later, Griese threw an interception to 49ers S Tony Parrish.
Backup RB Earnest Graham rushed four times for 27 yards (6.8 avg.). Most of those touches came in the fourth quarter with the Bucs well ahead of the 49ers.
*The Bucs rushed 35 times for 159 yards (4.5 avg.) and two touchdowns Sunday.
Although Joey Galloway started at the X (split-end) position, Joe Jurevicius proved to be Tampa Bay’s most valuable receiver Sunday. Jurevicius caught a team-leading five passes for 82 yards and scored two touchdowns. Jurevicius’ first score came in the second quarter when he hauled in a 9-yard pass from QB Brian Griese. That score put the Bucs up 14-0, and it wouldn’t take long for this duo to hook up for a score again. With 42 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Griese threw a perfect strike deep downfield to Jurevicius, who hauled in the pass for a 42-yard score. Jurevicius did a great job of catching the pass in-between safeties Tony Parrish and Ronnie Heard. That score capped off a 4-play, 67-yard drive, which put the Bucs up 21-0.
Galloway caught three passes for 33 yards, including a 22-yarder in the first quarter.
Rookie WR Michael Clayton caught four passes for 66 yards. His biggest grab came in the third quarter when he caught a 36-yard pass from Griese down the sideline. Ironically, the Bucs had run a similar play on the play before, but Clayton and the defender were both penalized for pass interference. However, Clayton took full advantage of his second opportunity by getting nice separation from the defender and hauling in the pass. That play put the Bucs on the 49ers’ 27-yard line. The Bucs finished that drive off a few plays later when RB Michael Pittman scored from six yards out, making it 28-0 in favor of the Pewter Pirates.
*Tampa Bay produced 352 yards of total offense against San Francisco.
Tampa Bay tight ends Ken Dilger and Will Heller did a great job of blocking and opening up holes for RB Michael Pittman. Heller threw a terrific block on the right side on Pittman’s 11-yard run in the first quarter, but he was flagged for an illegal block in the back in the second quarter on Pittman’s 15-yard run. Dilger and Heller each caught one pass for seven- and 13-yard gains, respectively.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line fared much better than it did against Atlanta last Sunday. Of course, it would’ve been hard for the Bucs’ O-line to not improve on that performance, which included seven sacks allowed. Tampa Bay QB Brian Griese had a fairly comfortable pocket to throw out of throughout the game Sunday, and San Francisco’s one quarterback takedown can be attributed to a coverage sack. Right guard Cosey Coleman struggled early in pass protection and even picked up a 15-yard hands-to-the-face penalty, but he settled down from the second quarter on. Center Sean Mahan threw a great block on RB Michael Pittman’s 14-yard run for a touchdown in the first quarter. Griese fumbled the ball after Mahan snapped it in the third quarter, but that mishap appeared to be Griese’s fault. Griese managed to recover the loose ball. Left guard Matt Stinchcomb was at his best when pulling to the right, where Pittman picked up a lot of his yards. However, his false start penalty in the first quarter negated FB Mike Alstott’s 2-yard touchdown run. Two plays later, Griese tossed an interception to 49ers S Tony Parrish. Right tackle Kenyatta Walker should also be credited with some of Pittman’s big yardage.
*The Bucs won time of possession Sunday, controlling the ball for 33:33. The 49ers had the ball for just 26:27.
Although this unit was without under tackle Anthony McFarland, Tampa Bay’s defensive line simply dominated the trenches against San Francisco. The Bucs did a great job of harassing 49ers QB Tim Rattay right from the start of the game. Ahanotu and DT Jon Bradley each recorded one sack in the fourth quarter. Ahanotu finished the game with four tackles. He also picked up a questionable personal foul (helmet-to-helmet hit) penalty after the Bucs had stopped the 49ers on third-and-10 in the second quarter. That penalty gave the 49ers their first first down of the game. Bradley had two tackles. Left defensive end Greg Spires led all defensive linemen with five tackles, and he also picked up a pass defensed. Although RDE Simeon Rice had a quiet game, he made some noise in the fourth quarter when he laid out 49ers guard Justin Smiley on cornerback Torrie Cox’s 55-yard interception for a touchdown. Rice finished the contest with four tackles. Nose tackle Chartric Darby, who notched one tackle, faced a plethora of double teams Sunday, but his fellow defensive linemen stepped up against the run and pass. Darby came up big in the first quarter when he recovered a fumble caused by Derrick Brooks’ sack on Rattay. Backup DT Dewayne White notched three tackles and a half of a sack when he and LB Jeff Gooch brought down Rattay. After allowing San Francisco to rush for a whopping 212 yards last year, Tampa Bay held the 49ers to 72 yards on 23 carries (3.1 avg.) Sunday.
*San Francisco running back Kevan Barlow rushed 14 times for 30 yards (2.1 avg.).
Bucs weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks set the tone early in the first quarter by sacking 49ers QB Tim Rattay on a blitz, which caused Rattay to fumble and allowed DT Chartric Darby to recover on San Fran’s 14-yard line. That great play set up RB Michael Pittman’s 14-yard touchdown run, which made the score 7-0. Brooks finished the game with eight tackles and did a great job against the run.
Middle linebacker Shelton Quarles had an active day as well, notching seven tackles and one pass defensed. Backup MLB Jeff Gooch saw significant action and notched three tackles and a half of a sack.
Strongside LB Ian Gold, who had struggled against tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Alge Crumpler over the past two weeks, did an outstanding job of containing 49ers TE Eric Johnson, who caught just one pass for nine yards. Gold was also solid against the run and finished the game with eight tackles.
*Tampa Bay’s defense allowed San Francisco to produce just 26 yards of total offense in the first half. The 49ers finished the game with 197 yards.
Tampa Bay cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly dominated San Francisco wide receivers Cedrick Wilson and Brandon Lloyd. Both Wilson and Lloyd combined for two catches for 15 yards. Barber recorded four tackle, one pass defensed and a sack off a blitz in the fourth quarter. Kelly didn’t record any. Both of them did a great job of jamming the receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Mario Edwards and Torrie Cox split time at the nickel corner position, and Cox came up huge in the fourth quarter when 49ers QB Tim Rattay’s pass intended for WR Rashaun Woods was picked off by Cox and returned 55 yards for a touchdown, which put the Bucs up 35-0. Cox finished the game with two tackles and one pick for a score. Edwards didn’t record a tackle.
John Howell started at free safety in place of Jermaine Phillips. He notched one tackle and wasn’t tested in the passing game by the 49ers. Dexter Jackson saw significant action in place of Howell and Dwight Smith. Jackson recorded four tackles. Smith, who was suffering from knee soreness throughout the week, recorded one tackle, but he made his biggest impact when covering TE Eric Johnson in some man-to-man situations. Smith and LB Ian Gold totally shut down Johnson on Sunday.
*San Francisco QB Tim Rattay completed 15-of-31 (48 percent) of his throws for 147 yards and one interception. He was sacked five times. The 49ers were 1-of-12 (8 percent) on third down tries.
Bucs punter Josh Bidwell punted five times and averaged a whopping 48.6 yards per attempt. His longest was a 60-yarder. In an interesting sidenote, 49ers P Andy Lee had a 81-yarder on Sunday.
Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica didn’t attempt a field goal, but his kickoffs were excellent and reached the end zone.
Kickoff returners Torrie Cox and Earnest Graham each had 18-yard returns.
Punt returner Joey Galloway had plenty of room to return punts Sunday. He returned three punts for 16 yards (5.3 avg.). He also fumbled one of those returns, but he managed to recover. His longest return was a 14-yarder.
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden was wise to stick to the run and give his offensive line a chance to rebound from their dreadful performance in the trenches last Sunday in Atlanta. The running game, led by Michael Pittman and great blocking by Mike Alstott, opened things up for QB Brian Griese in the passing game.
It’s scary what defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin can do when given a double-digit lead in a game. Not only did Tampa Bay’s front four put pressure on San Francisco QB Tim Rattay, Kiffin just about killed Rattay on several pass plays by sending a nice variety of blitzes. Those are the chances Kiffin can afford to take when he’s got a nice lead to work with.
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