New York will be relying on its dangerous front four to get pressure on Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia, but the Giants will also be mixing up their looks defensively with a myriad of blitzes. The test for Tampa Bay, according to wide receiver Joey Galloway, will be to pick up the blitzes and protect Garcia. The reward for passing the test? Perhaps a big play from Galloway in one-on-one coverage.
"They are a tough defense and you have to protect your quarterback," Galloway said. "They fly around and give you a bunch of different looks you have to prepare for.
"We hope to pick up their blitzes. We hope to be prepared. If we can stop them from getting to our quarterback then it will give us half a chance [to hit some big plays against single coverage]."
Galloway, who has missed the last game and a half due to an injured left shoulder, pronounced himself "good – ready to go" on Thursday, a day in which he returned to practice. Galloway missed Wednesday's practice, but the 36-year old receiver has not practiced on Wednesdays all season.
While Galloway and several Bucs veterans, including wide receiver Ike Hilliard, fullback B.J. Askew and Garcia should be fresh after missing the season finale against Carolina as head coach Jon Gruden wanted to rest several key starters, the 1,000-yard receiver doesn't believe the fact that New York played all of its starters in a hard-fought, 38-35 loss to New England will cause the Giants to come into Raymond James Stadium tired.
Galloway isn't concerned about any potential rust that may have developed between he and Garcia during the layoff. He is more concerned about the Giants' pass rush allowing Garcia enough time to find him.
"I think we would all like to hope they are tired, but they are a well-conditioned team," Galloway said. "We expect their best game and we expect them to be fresh and ready to go. This is playoff football. When they show up here they will be ready to go."
"From what they do, it makes it tough to throw deep, short or anywhere else," Galloway said. "We'll be fine. It's not like we're at the beginning of the season. This is Week 18. We've had plenty of time to play together and plenty of time to practice together so we'll be fine."
Galloway has had a distinguished, 13-year career in the NFL that includes six 1,000-yard seasons, including three of those over the past three years in Tampa Bay. But Galloway has yet to win a playoff game with any of the teams he has been on – Seattle, Dallas or Tampa Bay. The Bucs' 17-10 playoff loss at Raymond James Stadium during the 2005 season was his most recent opportunity.
"I'm pretty excited about being in the playoffs again," Galloway said. "It hasn't happened very many times in my career. We're playing at home and it's playoff time. It's a one-loss elimination tournament right now. We're all pretty excited about that."
When asked if he was trying to tell the team's rookies and young players to savor the moment and play with a sense of urgency because making the playoffs is not a given each year, Galloway said: "I don't think there is any way to explain that. As a young guy in this league, you think that you get there a lot. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. This is my fourth time in 13 seasons. It definitely hasn't happened a lot to me."
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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: email@example.com