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PEWTER REPORT EDITOR-IN-CHIEF SCOTT REYNOLDS: “With nothing but hot, 1:00 p.m. starts for the Buccaneers’ eight home games this season, it was so important for Tampa Bay to develop a credible rushing attack in the offseason. Coupled with another dominant effort from their defense, the Bucs used its newfound running game to physically wear down and wear out a normally stout Buffalo defense in the sweltering heat inside Raymond James Stadium. The dark jersey-clad Bills came into today’s game with the number one ranked defense after holding Houston to 92 yards rushing last week. Thanks to Jon Gruden’s commitment to run the ball, the physical play of Tampa Bay’s upstart offensive line, and, of course, Cadillac Williams, the Bucs rushed for 191 yards with the rookie leading the way again this week with 128 yards on the ground. If Tampa Bay can carve out well over 100 yards per game at home against tough defenses like the Bills, they stand a very, very good chance of improving on last year’s 4-4 mark at Raymond James Stadium. Expect more opposing defenses to get tired from the heat and the Bucs’ new, potent running game.”
“The fact that the Buccaneers did not have a turnover and surrendered only one sack today is amazing for this youth-laden Tampa Bay offense. Buffalo has a championship-caliber defense, but wore down due to the 100-degree temperature inside Raymond James Stadium. The fact that the Bucs used conservative play-calling and produced a smash-mouth running game frustrated a hot and bothered Bills defense. Buffalo could not generate any momentum because Tampa Bay’s offensive line did a good job of protecting Griese and Griese and the Bucs’ ballcarriers did a good job of protecting the ball. Bucs coach Jon Gruden gets a tip of the hat for dialing up a lot of three-step drops for Griese today against the blitz-happy Bills.”
“It’s a small note, but credit Jon Gruden for bringing out the white pants for his players today to go with the white jerseys. Tampa Bay traditionally wears its white jerseys and pewter pants until late October, but Gruden was looking to give his team any advantage on one of the hottest days of the year in Tampa. In talking to the players after the game, I found out that the white-on-white look was a big help – even if it was only psychologically.”
“Tampa Bay has to be thrilled with the fact that Mark Jones is essentially giving the Bucs offense a free first down by averaging 12.8 yards on his six punt returns this season. After averaging nine yards per return at Minnesota, Jones averaged 16.7 yards on his three returns against Buffalo, including one that went for 20 yards. Considering the fact that Tampa Bay averaged a paltry 6.5 yards per punt return in 2004, the fact that it has doubled its production in this department this year has to be considered a big plus. Expect Jones to break a couple of big ones this year.”
“Tampa Bay has the opportunity to completely flip its opening record from a year ago. After starting the 2004 season 0-4, the 2-0 Bucs could be 4-0 with victories in winnable games at Green Bay and home against Detroit. Most would have taken a 2-2 start if given to them before the season started. The prospects of the Bucs starting 4-0 are not only real, they are a bit unexpected. With the Packers starting out 0-2, the Bucs will have a stiff challenge on their hands facing a desperate team on enemy turf.”
PEWTER REPORT MANAGING EDITOR JIM FLYNN: “Before the 2005 regular season started, most pundits thought running back Cadillac Williams would be hard pressed to have the type of rookie campaign wide receiver Michael Clayton put together just one year earlier. But after further review, Williams, who has pumped some much-needed life into a running game that’s been lifeless over the past several seasons, is blowing the start to Clayton’s rookie year (had 13 catches for 114 yards through two games) out of the water. Williams has rushed 51 times for 276 yards (5.4 avg.) and two touchdowns through two games, which puts him on pace for 2,208 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.”
“The one thing that was extremely disappointing from Tampa Bay’s impressive 19-3 win over Buffalo on Sunday was the amount of penalties the Bucs committed. Tampa Bay was penalized 13 times for 99 yards vs. Buffalo, and its special teams unit committed seven of those infractions. Ironically, Tampa Bay was flagged 13 times for 99 yards during last Sunday’s win over Minnesota, too. Although they’ve won both of those games, committing 26 penalties for 198 yards in two contests isn’t exactly how playoff-caliber teams go about getting themselves into the post-season. The Bucs must clean up their act, and in a hurry.”
“This game might have been over in the first half had Bucs cornerbacks Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber been able to hold onto poorly thrown passes by Bills quarterback J.P. Losman. Both Kelly and Barber made great plays on the passes and would have easily returned them for touchdowns had they been able to pick them off. Still, only allowing Losman to complete 12 of 29 passes (41.3 percent) for 113 yards, limiting to the Bills offense to 147 yards of total offense and recording a safety was no small feat for the Bucs defense.”
“Tampa Bay has a chance to start the regular season off with a 3-0 record for the first time since 2000 if it can go to Green Bay next Sunday and escape with a win over the 0-2 Packers. The 2-0 Bucs haven’t won in Wisconsin since 1989 (0-13), but the Packers have dropped three straight games at Lambeau Field dating back to the 2004 regular season and playoffs.”
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