Tampa Bay offensive tackles Derrick Deese and Kenyatta Walker and linebacker Jeff Gooch did not play due to injury. Anthony Davis replaced Deese on the left side, while rookie Chris Colmer subbed for Walker at right tackle. Ryan Nece started at strongside linebacker in place of Gooch.

In his post-game press conference, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said that he had no new injuries to report, which was the best possible news as Tampa Bay looks forward to the 2005 season opener at Minnesota on September 11.

Anthony “Booger” McFarland returned to action after taking two games off to grieve for his deceased mother. McFarland, who started at under tackle for Tampa Bay, was disruptive in limited action and helped force an interception by David Carr with some good pressure in the first quarter.

“It felt good to get back out, get back out here with my teammates,” McFarland said. “Obviously, we’ve got a big group of guys who love playing together, love being together, so it was just good to get back out and laugh it up, play it up and have some fun out here playing the game that we love.”

McFarland finished the game with one tackle.

Tampa Bay’s offense and defense got off to its fastest start of the preseason against Houston in its 38-14 win. Buccaneers cornerback Juran Bolden stepped in front of a David Carr pass to end the Texans’ first drive and set up a Tampa Bay field goal. Carr was picked off again on the next drive by cornerback Ronde Barber, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Mike Alstott to give Tampa Bay a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Bucs outgained the Texans 83 yards to 9 yards in the first quarter, which was a far cry from last week’s game at Miami in which the Dolphins marched down the field on Tampa Bay’s starting defense and scored a touchdown on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Tonight’s outing against Houston was similar to the fast start Tampa Bay experienced against Tennessee when they turned their opening drive into a touchdown against the Titans and the Bucs’ starting defense forced two turnovers on Tennessee’s first two drives.

With 10 points tonight, the Buccaneers starting offense has now scored 23 points in the preseason. The 38 points Tampa Bay put up tonight was 13 points less than the 51 points the team has put up through three preseason games combined.

Penalties continue to be a problem for Tampa Bay this preseason as the Bucs were flagged for nine infractions for 65 yards. Tampa Bay had a total of six penalties called in the first quarter alone, although an offsides penalty on linebacker Marquis Cooper was declined.

The penalty situation was ridiculous on one series in particular when the Bucs were flagged three times quarter – a false start (Juran Bolden) a holding call (Will Allen) and a false start (Marquis Cooper) – while trying to get off a punt with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Houston was penalized 11 times for 82 yards tonight.

Through four preseason games, the Bucs tallied 32 penalties for 268 yards. That’s an average of eight penalties for 67 yards per preseason game. If that number were averaged out over the span of 16 regular season games, the Bucs would be flagged for a team-record 128 times for 1,072 yards.

After making it a priority in training camp, the Buccaneers defense recorded 11 turnovers this preseason, including four against Houston in their 38-14 win over the Texans. Cornerbacks Juran Bolden, Ronde Barber and James Patrick each recorded an interception against Houston, while cornerback Blue Adams recovered a fumble caused by linebacker Marquis Cooper.

Barber’s interception came with a bit of drama as he tripped over linebacker Derrick Brooks, who had fallen to the ground, and wound up fumbling the ball. However, the loose pigskin was recovered by linebacker Shelton Quarles.

The Bucs could have had two more as linebacker Josh Buhl dropped a certain interception in the fourth quarter and linebacker Barrett Ruud and safety Kalvin Pearson were fighting for a jump ball in the third quarter and wound up knocking the ball out of each other’s hands.

Barber and Bolden led Tampa Bay in turnover plays this preseason. Barber picked off two passes and forced a fumble. Bolden had the interception against the Texans and also recorded a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against Jacksonville.

Tampa Bay’s defense averaged just under three turnovers per game in the 2005 preseason.

The 38 points Tampa Bay put up against Houston was the most points scored by a Bucs team under Jon Gruden in the preseason since the Pewter Pirates beat the Texans 34-3 at Raymond James Stadium in 2003. … A 47-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bucs cornerback James Patrick in the fourth was overturned by instant replay. The ball was spotted inside the 1-yard line. Two runs by running back Derrick Watson on the game’s final two plays netted zero yards. … The 327 total yards amassed by Tampa Bay against Houston was the highest offensive output of the preseason for the Bucs. Tampa Bay rushed for 96 yards and passed for 231. … The Buccaneers rushed for 468 yards and three touchdowns on 118 carries (3.9 avg.) in the preseason. The improving Tampa Bay rushing attack averaged 117 yards per contest. … Bucs kicker Matt Bryant finished the preseason 3-of-4 in field goal attempts with a long of 52 yards, while Todd France wound up 4-of-4 with a long of 49 yards. … Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick, running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, rushed 48 yards on 12 carries (4.0 avg.) during the preseason. Earnest Graham led all Bucs rushers this preseason with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries (4.3 avg.). … New Buccaneers acquisition, defensive end Andrew Williams, saw action at left defensive end in the fourth quarter and helped record Tampa Bay’s only sack of the game, splitting it with defensive tackle Bryan Save. … With the 38-14 win against Houston, Tampa Bay finishes the 2005 preseason 2-2.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: sr@pewterreport.com
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