Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds:
“While it was nice to see the Buccaneers finally dominate an opponent this season, keep in mind that it was the 1-8 San Francisco 49ers that Tampa Bay beat. If you watched this game, you realize that the 49ers played like a junior varsity team today. The win still counts, but it is against one of the worst NFL teams that I have ever seen. Arizona should be embarrassed that the 49ers beat them this year. San Francisco couldn’t even score against a mixture of Tampa Bay starters and reserves with two cracks at the end zone from the Bucs’ 1-yard line. A great showing by the Bucs, but a pathetic showing from the 49ers.”

“Want to hear an absolutely amazing stat? With 1.5 sacks playing two games at under tackle this season for the Bucs, Chidi Ahanotu has more sacks than Warren Sapp does out in Oakland. Through nine games this season, Sapp is still stuck with half a sack. After notching half a sack last week against Atlanta, Ahanotu recorded a sack versus the 49ers. Ahanotu is playing better than expected and is proving to be a key, mid-season pickup for the Bucs. Not only is he contributing at under tackle, he is also a steadying force in the defensive line meeting room among the younger players such as Dewayne White, Josh Savage and Jon Bradley.”

“The stats of the game are third down conversions on offense and defense. Tampa Bay was 7-of-12 (58 percent) on third downs on offense, and the Bucs defense stifled the 49ers offense by holding them to just 1-of-12 conversions (8 percent) on third downs.”

“It’s hard to believe that the Bucs are still alive for a Wild Card playoff berth with a 4-6 record with six games remaining. However, Tampa Bay will likely have to go 5-1 down the stretch to seize one of the Wild Card playoff spots. That will be a tall order as the Bucs face Carolina twice (3-7), division-leading Atlanta (8-2), San Diego (7-3), New Orleans (4-6) and Arizona (4-6). The good news is that out of the six games left on the schedule, half of them are at home where the Pewter Pirates have now won three straight. Could an 8-8 Bucs team actually sneak into the playoffs? That may seem unlikely until you glance around the NFC. With a plethora of teams hovering at either 5-4 or 4-5, anything is possible in the unpredictable and downtrodden NFC. Only Philadelphia (9-1) and Atlanta (8-2) are virtually assured playoff spots right now.”

“I think Bucs fans know why Pewter Report has been big fans of Torrie Cox since his rookie season. The kid can flat out play. Cox, who Pewter Report accurately predicted the Bucs would draft in 2003, returned his first interception 55 yards for a touchdown against San Francisco. He has the big-play ability that Dwight Smith showed as a young nickel corner in 2002, and it is only a matter of time before Cox fully unseats Mario Edwards in the nickel defense. Cox has the playmaking ability found in Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly and Smith.”

Pewter Report managing editor Jim Flynn:
“It looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be catching the Carolina Panthers at the wrong time. The Panthers have won two straight games and soundly defeated the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, 35-10. The good news for the Bucs is they are coming off a thorough whipping of the 49ers and have a lot of incentive going into next Sunday’s game in Carolina, a team that swept the Pewter Pirates last season.”

“Tampa Bay’s defense, which was without two starters — defensive tackle Anthony McFarland and safety Jermaine Phillips — simply dominated San Francisco’s offense Sunday. The Bucs sacked quarterback Tim Rattay five times and held the 49ers to just 26 yards of total offense in the first half. While several players had big games, give Bucs strongside linebacker Ian Gold credit for coming through with a outstanding performance. After struggling against tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Alge Crumpler over the past two weeks, Gold did a solid job of containing 49ers TE Eric Johnson, who entered Sunday’s game leading the NFC in receptions (57). On Sunday, Gold, who recorded a team-leading eight tacklesm, and safety Dwight Smith, held Johnson to just one catch.”

“Although he completed 15-of-21 passes for 210 yards and tossed two touchdowns, you could definitely tell that Bucs quarterback Brian Griese received limited reps in practice all week due to the injured shoulder he suffered in Atlanta. Griese was sharp at times but appeared to be uncomfortable in the pocket and made some uncharacteristic mistakes. In the first quarter with the Bucs inside the 49ers’ 10-yard line, Griese threw an interception to safety Tony Parrish. In the second quarter, Griese underthrew wide receiver Joey Galloway, which allowed Parrish to pick him off again. Were Griese’s mistakes caused by his lack of playing time or is he falling back into old habits?” The Bucs are hoping it’s the latter.”

“It was nice to see the Bucs respond in a positive way after such a negative loss last Sunday in Atlanta. By defeating the 49ers, the Buccaneers are now 4-6 on the season and their playoff hopes are still alive. Don’t look now, but Tampa Bay has won three straight home games, which is good news for the Bucs, who play three of their final six regular season games at Raymond James Stadium.”

Pewter Report senior writer Leo Haggerty:
“You may have to go back into the annals of Buccaneer history to find a more dominating performance for 30 minutes than what I witnessed this afternoon at Raymond James Stadium. The 49ers did not get their initial first down until late in the first half, and added a meaningless one on the last play before intermission. The Bucs defense, no matter what 11 players happened to be on the gridiron, was flying to the football and played with reckless abandon. The defensive line was getting upfield pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers were either chasing down ballcarriers or blitzing off the edge and the secondary were all over the receivers. If this defense starts to play even close to the level it was at in 2002 and with the remaining teams on the schedule, this team could put together a pretty good win streak.”

“There is a definite ‘us versus the world’ mentality permeating through the Buccaneers locker room. Head coach Jon Gruden exploded at a member of the local media at his post-game press conference about an article in the St. Petersburg Times that apparently overstated a discussion between Gruden and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius after practice. Gruden obviously was perturbed at the reporter over a previous issue because the question that was asked should not have provoked such a vehement response. Then, tackle Derrick Deese goes into a profanity-laden tirade into a reporter over another somewhat minor issue. This team is starting to bond together and may be using the negativity in the local media as the ‘common enemy’ to rally against. My feeling is, if that helps them win, I’ll start taking potshots as well. I’ll take one for the team if that’s what it takes for them to end up on the winning side of the scoreboard when the day is done.”

“Going into the game with the 49ers, the Bucs knew they had to stop one receiver – tight end Eric Johnson. The Bucs accomplished that goal and then some. Johnson did not get his first reception, which was a 9-yard catch, until the 9:00 mark in the fourth quarter when the outcome of the game had already been decided. A great deal of credit goes to the Bucs’ pass rush scheme which was designed by Monte Kiffin. From the opening series, Tampa Bay used a combination of blitz packages with the “Will Fire” by Derrick Brooks causing the first turnover.”

“The change in Michael Pittman from last year to this year is astounding. With a new north-south attitude and his troubles behind him, Pittman has become a force to be reckoned with on offense with three 100-yard rushing games out of the last four contests. After the game, head coach Jon Gruden suggested he had made a mistake by not making Pittman the primary ballcarrier earlier in his Tampa Bay career.”

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