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Publisher Scott Reynolds
“Want to know why Jon Gruden loves veteran quarterbacks like Jeff Garcia so much? Because of the experienced nuances they bring to the table. Garcia’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway in the first quarter at Atlanta came because of a successfully executed pump fake that Falcons Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall bit on. Once Hall bit on the pump fake, Garcia threw a perfect pass to Galloway down the left sidelines for the touchdown. In the third quarter, Garcia looked off safety Lawyer Milloy to the left before throwing right to a wide open Alex Smith down the seam for a 21-yard touchdown.”

“There is a flaw with the instant replay system. Jon Gruden challenged a second quarter fumble by linebacker Cato June that was recovered by Atlanta. To challenge a play, the head coach must specify what he wants the referee to review via instant replay. Gruden mistakenly said that he wanted the official to review whether the first person that recovered Roddy White’s fumble was down by contact. What Gruden should have said, and probably meant to say, was that he wanted to see if June was down by contact before he tried to lateral the ball to Ronde Barber. Instead, the replay showed that cornerback Brian Kelly – who was the first player that recovered the ball – wasn’t down. But June was. This is absolutely ridiculous. Plays happen fast – bang-bang – in the NFL and officials who are right on the spot can’t even get calls correct when they are right in front of the play. How in the world is a head coach that is on the sidelines 30 yards away from the play going to know what to challenge on a crazy play in which change of possession flipped three times? I say scrap the ‘specific part’ of instant replay and challenge the whole damn play. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense? Irking Gruden even more was the fact that Walt Coleman was officiating the game. Coleman was the official who burned Gruden and the Oakland Raiders in the ‘Snow Bowl’ playoff game in New England in 2001 with the ‘tuck rule’ call after Tom Brady had fumbled during a blitz by cornerback Charles Woodson.”

“Tampa Bay tight end Alex Smith shook off a dropped touchdown against Arizona and a false start on third-and-2 on the first play of the second quarter against Atlanta to have a great game against the Falcons. Smith led the Bucs with three catches for 51 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Smith is a big part of Tampa Bay’s offense and now we can see why head coach and offensive playcaller Jon Gruden was so eager to get him back for the Arizona game, even though he ended up re-injuring his sprained ankle in that contest. Smith now has three touchdowns on the year, which ties his career high for a single season that he set last year.”

“Let’s see … quarterback Joey Harrington won two straight games for the Falcons, yet Byron Leftwich gets the start? That worked out well, didn’t it Bobby Petrino? Leftwich started a game four weeks ago, but left early due to an ankle injury. Harrington gets the two next starts and wins both games. Yet Petrino saw enough from Leftwich in one half of a losing game to want to go back to him? Petrino won’t be in the NFL long with personnel decisions like that. And sorry, Bob, winless Miami has its sights set on your former pupil, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm.”

“Atlanta Falcons wide receivers dropped eight passes against Tampa Bay. If Falcons general manager Rich McKay has an Achilles heel in talent evaluation, it is at the wide receiver position. He couldn’t draft good ones in Tampa Bay and he hasn’t drafted good ones in Atlanta, either.”

“This victory was extra sweet for Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden, who still holds a grudge against former Bucs general manager Rich McKay. Gruden remembers McKay abandoning the Bucs organization back in 2003 during the week of the Bucs-Falcons game, a contest in which Atlanta won, 30-28 The reason for the grudge is because McKay made Gruden look like the villain to the local media on his way out of town, and the Bucs’ salary cap was in shambles after his departure. The fact that the Falcons swept the Bucs last year, winning 14-3  and 17-6 against Tampa Bay meant Atlanta was in for some payback this year. Like any coach, Gruden loves winning by any score against any opponent. But the wins over the NFC South rival Falcons, especially blowouts like the one today, will always be sweeter as long as McKay is in Atlanta.”

Editor-In-Chief Jim Flynn
"Tampa Bay looked like a well-rested team coming off of its bye week vs. Atlanta on Sunday. That included quarterback Jeff Garcia, who completed just 10-of-20 passes, but threw for 159 yards and tossed two touchdown passes en route to the Bucs' 31-7 win over the Falcons. Garcia used a Rich Gannon-type pump fake to throw a 44-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Joey Galloway in the first quarter, and he tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alex Smith in the third quarter. As usual, Garcia was a good caretaker with the ball, tossing no interceptions for the ninth time in 10 games as a Buccaneer. Garcia, who has completed 65 percent of his passes for over 2,000 yards and tossed 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions, could be on his way to the Pro Bowl."

"Speaking of offensive touchdowns, Tampa Bay scored three of them against Atlanta, which gives the 6-4 Bucs a total of 19 offensive touchdowns through 10 regular season games. That means the Bucs offense needs just one more touchdown to equal their total from the entire 2006 season and the team has six more games left this year."

"Atlanta running back Warrick Dunn needed just 58 yards to surpass the 10,000-yard rushing mark in his career heading into Sunday's game vs. Tampa Bay. Some pundits thought Dunn would easily accomplish that feat on Sunday since Tampa Bay's defense surrendered 306 yards and 139 yards in two losses to Atlanta last year. As it turns out, Dunn will have to wait another week to accomplish that impressive feat as Tampa Bay's defense held him to just 32 yards on 15 carries (2.1 avg.). Atlanta rushed for just 49 yards on 19 attempts (2.6 avg.) on Sunday."

"Tampa Bay's defense likely will be ranked in the top five again by Monday after holding Atlanta's offense to just 275 yards and one touchdown and forcing four turnovers. But the Bucs just can't seem to hold on to a shutout this season. The Bucs defense has taken a shutout into the fourth quarter three times this season vs. the St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, respectively. The Rams scored a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs' hopes of a shutout this season have been dashed late in wins over the Panthers and Falcons. Carolina scored a touchdown with just 23 seconds remaining in the Week 4 contest vs. Tampa Bay. On Sunday, Atlanta prevented the Bucs from recording their first shutout since Dec. 5, 2004, which ironically enough came vs. the Falcons, by allowing Atlanta's offense to drive 82 yards on 13 plays and cap off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joey Harrington to wide receiver Adam Jennings with just 1:10 remaining in the contest."

"The Bucs' 24-point win over the Falcons Sunday was their biggest margin of victory since their 27-0 win over, ironically enough, Atlanta. That game was played at Raymond James Stadium on Dec. 5, 2004."

"After going 0-6 in the NFC South division last year, Tampa Bay is off to a 3-0 start in the division this season with impressive wins over New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta. In fact, the Bucs have defeated their three division rivals by a combined score of 82-28, and the victories over the Panthers and Falcons were 1:33 away from being shutouts that came on the road. Can you say domination? Tampa Bay has a two-game lead in the NFC South division with six regular season games remaining. It appears as though the Bucs stand a good chance of winning the NFC South title for the second time in three seasons and the third time in head coach Jon Gruden's six-year tenure in Tampa Bay."

Contributing Writer Charles Gonzalez

"Running back Michael Pittman was excited about his return to the lineup after being out six weeks with an ankle injury. Pittman made it a point during this week to state that the Bucs had to make plays when they were there to be made to get a victory on the road. He didn't live up to his statement early in the game with a dropped pass on a third-down reception. Pittman also fumbled the ball on his second reception in the first quarter that didn't hurt the Bucs because the defense caused a turnover and got the ball back. However, the rustiness of Pittman was evident catching the ball. He was consistent running the ball in the game and showed no ill effects from the ankle injury, finishing with 44 yards on 10 carries, including a 21-yard jaunt. Pittman also had 17 yards on two catches. His struggles early in the game could have been costly and must be kept in check. The Bucs aren't good enough to bounce back from mistakes and Pittman will be a big weapon in the stretch run to the playoffs. "

"Defensive end Greg White has become a third-down specialist in rushing the passer and was a factor in the first half. White used his speed rush twice to get around the end and sack Falcons quarterback Byron Leftwich. On his first sack, White got around the end, but Leftwich stepped up into the pocket. White kept chasing Leftwich and hit his arm from behind to cause a fumble that cornerback Ronde Barber took back for a touchdown. White's speed was evident again on his second sack coming off the end and causing another fumble on Leftwich, but was recovered by Atlanta. White made another statement with his play against Atlanta that the Bucs should strongly consider re-signing him at the end of the season. With the two sacks on Sunday, White now leads the defense with 4.5 sacks. Despite the issues about the pass rush all season long, White has been a bright spot on the defensive line and is proving that head coach Jon Gruden was right in taking a chance on him coming out of the Arena Football League."

"Head coach Jon Gruden was known for his enthusiasm and fist pumps after his first season with the Bucs. He made his fist pumps well known in the Bucs 48-21 Super Bowl victory over his former team, the Oakland Raiders. Gruden was seen many times pumping his fists and jumping around after several plays. That enthusiasm and the fist pumps haven't been seen too many times since that season. With all the struggles the Bucs have had, Gruden has showed little emotion and many more scowls on the sideline. It seems as though the enthusiasm is back as Gruden was seen doing his famous fist pumps after touchdowns in a victory vs. Atlanta. Gruden has been under fire about the Bucs performance in the past four seasons despite winning the division and making the playoffs in 2005. The job that Gruden has done this season is likely the best of his career, keeping the team together with all the injuries. Gruden should be pumping his fists because the Bucs are on track to capture their third division title in six seasons in the NFC South."

"Running back Earnest Graham is quickly showing the Bucs that the starting position at running back might not be a need in the offseason. After the season-ending injury to Cadillac Williams, the Bucs were under pressure to trade for either Chargers running back Michael Turner or Minnesota running back Mewelde Moore. The Bucs did make a move for running back Michael Bennett in a trade with Kansas City, but Graham is making a push in becoming the future in the backfield for Tampa Bay. His second consecutive 100-yard performance is just another impressive showing to add to the list that Graham is racking up this season. With Bennett and Michael Pittman becoming free agents at the end of the season and the unknown of Williams' status for next season, Graham is the only certain thing at running back for the Bucs and that might not be a bad thing."

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