NFC South: Giants-Buccaneers 092709

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. – If Josh Johnson hadn’t come to the rescue, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have made history.

That’s saying something for a franchise that started 0-26 and once had a color-blind quarterback (Vinny Testaverde). If Byron Leftwich had continued at his pace, the results would have been laughable and historic.

As it turned out, the Bucs put Johnson in at quarterback in the fourth quarter and he threw everything out of kilter by moving the team 51 yards in a 24-0 loss to the New York Giants. That still was bad enough for the third-worst yardage total in franchise history, but it could have been so much worse.

At the point Johnson relieved Leftwich, the Bucs had managed precisely one first down and 35 yards of total offense.

“We made zero plays,’’ Leftwich said.

That number is pretty accurate. The Bucs did nothing on offense. Starting running back Derrick Ward, who was signed away from the Giants, carried five times for two yards and reportedly tried to get on the Giants’ bus. Kellen Winslow, the tight end brought in from Cleveland, caught three passes for 14 yards and wouldn’t talk to the media after the game.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something in my life where nothing went right,’’ Leftwich said.

Now, Leftwich has been part of that unique club. It wasn’t all his fault and he did have the offense ranked fourth in the NFL after two games.

“It was a major step back,’’ guard Davin Joseph said.

The Bucs finished with 86 yards of offense and Johnson’s one drive left him as the leading passer (36 yards) and leading rusher (15 yards). The only times the Bucs had less offense was in a blizzard at Green Bay when they had 65 yards on Dec. 1, 1985 and when they piled up 78 yards against the Falcons on Nov. 27, 1977 to run the franchise record to 0-25.

Kind of ironic that the Bucs are bringing out their throwback uniforms later this season. They're already playing like the Bucs of old.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


TAMPA, Fla. -- Just quick heads-up and an invitation to join us over at NFL Nation Live.

We’ll be kicking off right at 1 p.m. ET as the early games get going. I’ll be in there pretty regularly during the game between the Giants and Buccaneers.

Bryant is active for Bucs

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
12:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


TAMPA, Fla. -- We just got the list of today’s inactives and it’s pretty interesting for both the Bucs and the Giants.

Each team has declared a key injured player active. Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Bryant is on the active list. So is New York defensive end Justin Tuck, although I suspect the Giants will use him cautiously.

Tampa Bay’s inactives include running back Earnest Graham, center Jeff Faine, offensive lineman Marc Dile, receiver Maurice Stovall, defensive tackle Dre Moore and defensive end Kyle Moore. Josh Freeman is the inactive third quarterback.

New York’s inactives are running back Danny Ware, cornerback Aaron Ross, cornerback Kevin Dockery, tackle Adam Koets, receiver Domenik Hixon, receiver Hakeem Nicks, linebacker Clint Stintim and defensive lineman Chris Canty.

Bucs make roster move

September, 26, 2009
9/26/09
2:21
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


The Bucs just announced a roster move. They’ve elevated receiver Mario Urrutia from the practice squad to the regular roster and released linebacker Matt McCoy.

Tampa Bay has had some injury issues at receiver, with Maurice Stovall and Antonio Bryant both banged up. From what I know, the Bucs think there is a good chance Bryant will play Sunday against the Giants, but Stovall won’t. Apparently, the Bucs moved Urrutia up to have him ready to take over Stovall’s roles on special teams.

Final Word: NFC South

September, 25, 2009
9/25/09
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend’s games:

Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI
Matt Ryan and the Falcons can prove they're an elite team by knocking off the Patriots in New England.
Big game: It’s only Week 3, but the Atlanta Falcons are playing their biggest game in five years Sunday at New England. I call it the biggest game the Falcons have played since they went to the NFC Championship Game in 2004, not because it’s a homecoming for Matt Ryan and Thomas Dimitroff. I say it because it’s a chance for the Falcons to show the world they’re an elite team. There’s no better way to do that than going into New England and winning.

Road warriors: My initial plan was to write that the Bucs actually have a chance Sunday. My thinking was that the Giants have had to play two tough games and could be a little drained coming to the Florida heat. But that all changed when I looked and saw the Giants are 16-3 in their last 19 road games and most of those 16 wins have come against teams that are markedly better than the Bucs.

Looking ahead: Not to get ahead of things, but the Saints could be facing a huge Week Four game against the Jets. If the Saints can get by Buffalo on Sunday, they’ll be 3-0 and have two road wins against good teams. There’s a pretty good chance the Saints will be either 4-0 or 3-1 in the first quarter of the season. That kind of start didn’t seem like a possibility back in the preseason when we all thought defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant would be suspended for the first four games.

Secondary opinion: A lot of people talk about Atlanta’s secondary and say Tom Brady’s going to carve it up Sunday. That could happen, but I think this secondary is getting a bad rap. Yes, it’s very true there is not a single stud in this secondary. But that also was the case last year and the Falcons made it to the playoffs. They did that because they hid their defensive weaknesses with the pass rush. That pass rush is better than it was a year ago, now that John Abraham is getting some help from Kroy Biermann. That’s why I’ll argue that Atlanta’s secondary, while still a concern, is better than it was a year ago.

Prep time: The Panthers have an extra day to get ready because they don’t play Dallas until Monday night. That’s a good thing because it gives John Fox an extra day to coach. He switched defensive coordinators in the offseason and the defense hasn’t looked very good in the first two weeks. Fox’s teams always have been built around defense and I’m guessing the coach has been spending a little extra time in defensive meetings this week.

Bucs won't face television blackout

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
12:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas


TAMPA, Fla. -- The Bucs' string of selling out every game in the history of Raymond James Stadium, which opened in 1998, will last another week.

Put the streak at 94 (regular-season and postseason games) for Sunday's game with the Giants because a team official just told me the game won't be blacked out on local television. There are a few tickets left at the moment, but the team is expecting to sell out shortly.

That's the good news, but keep an eye on this situation later in the season. If the Bucs continue to struggle, selling out games against the likes of Carolina, the Jets, Saints and Falcons could be a lot harder than selling out against the Giants and the Cowboys, who the Bucs hosted in the season opener.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 11/23
Monday, 11/24