Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Gruden puzzled by Bucs' fourth-quarter collapse
TAMPA, Fla. -- Jon Gruden is still trying to figure out what
When you are the coach of the defending Super Bowl champions and
have one of the NFL's best defenses, you just don't expect to blow
a three-touchdown lead in the last four minutes of regulation and
let an opponent drive 76 yards to kick the winning field goal in
"For the first time since I've been here, a team was able to
overcome tremendous odds in a predictable situation, convert some
third downs, and was able to throw the ball and have success,"
Gruden said Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the 38-35 loss to
"What can I say? I'm not going to stand up here and justify
what occurred. We got bombed in the ninth inning. We have to move
Peyton Manning and the Colts became the first team in NFL
history to win a game after trailing by 21 or more points with four
minutes remaining in regulation when they rallied from a 35-14
deficit to beat the Bucs on Mike Vanderjagt's second-chance field
goal in overtime.
Manning exploited a secondary that played most of the night
without cornerback Brian Kelly. Marvin Harrison had 11 catches for
176 yards and two touchdowns and also set up the TD that forced the
overtime when he beat reserve cornerback Tim Wansley on a 52-yard
"Would Brian Kelly have made a difference in the game? We'd
like to think so. We think Brian is an outstanding football
player," Gruden said. "(Colts running back) Edgerrin James might
have made a difference. Injuries are what they are. Every team has
to overcome them, certainly our young corner (Wansley) was
victimized a couple of times by a great receiver."
After allowing just one touchdown -- on a 2-yard drive -- in Tampa
Bay's first three games, the defense yielded five against
Indianapolis, with the last three in the final 3:37 of regulation.
"We didn't make plays, bottom line," linebacker Derrick Brooks
"We've just got to finish games off. It's not the end of the
world, but we're not where we want to be."
Brad Pyatt began the comeback with a 90-yard kickoff return that
set up James Mungro's 3-yard TD run to trim Tampa Bay's lead to
35-21. The Colts also helped themselves by returning an onside
Vanderjagt kicked the game-winning field goal one play after
missing a 40-yard attempt wide right. He got another chance when
Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct
for leaping to try to block the kick and landing on a teammate.
Gruden didn't try to pin the loss on the penalty.
"There were numerous factors toward the end of that game.
Indianapolis was a factor. And from an offensive standpoint, we
almost ran out of bodies in the overtime session. We'll make no
excuses about it, we had numerous chances to win," Gruden said.
"We need to call the Dodgers and see if we can get (Eric)
Gagne, the guy with 66 saves. You go 8 1-3, you have to get the
last two outs. We were unable to do that in two home games, and I
know it's irritating and disgusting to our football team."