Vikings 14

(3-4, 0-3 away)

Buccaneers 41

(3-3, 2-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 28, 2001


1 2 3 4 T
MIN 0 0 8 614
TB 7 21 13 041

Alstott's three TDs lead Bucs to victory

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- This is what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had in mind when they spent most of the preseason talking about their Super Bowl aspirations.

Mike Alstott

Mike Alstott scored two of his three touchdowns in the first half for the Bucs on Sunday.

Playing with a sense of urgency that appeared to be absent in their first five games, the Bucs finally looked like a championship contender in a 41-14 rout of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Tampa Bay played with uncharacteristic efficiency on offense, excelled on special teams and got its nasty edge back on defense, answering doubters with a complete performance.

"I think we all just took the criticism and said it's us against the world. I think we like it that way," All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp said.

"When nobody believes in the Bucs -- 'Same old Bucs, same old this, same old that, they're going to find a way to lose' -- we like that because we know we have the know-how and the personnel to get it done."

Mike Alstott ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns, and Brad Johnson threw for 214 yards and two TDs as Tampa Bay (3-3) stopped a two-game losing streak.

Was this a great performance by the Bucs or did the Vikings quit?
The Bucs played Bucs' football -- they ran the ball and they stopped the run. This is the first time all season Tampa Bay scored a touchdown in the first quarter (today they got three in the first). The Bucs got off to a good start in the running game with Mike Alstott. In the passing game, QB Brad Johnson made quick, short throws (so he kept away from getting sacked). The Bucs had a good game plan coming in.

On defense, Tampa Bay shut down the run and got after Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper. They took Minnesota out of the game, and the Vikings reverted to bickering and being upset with each other. NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.

Alstott, starting at tailback instead of fullback because Warrick Dunn is injured, scored on runs of 3 and 5 yards to help the Bucs to a 28-0 halftime lead. He broke two tackles on a 10-yard TD burst that made it 41-8 late in the third quarter.

Tampa Bay punted on its opening drive, then scored on seven straight possessions while holding Minnesota (3-4) without a first down until Cris Carter's 40-yard reception five minutes into the second half.

"This is what we're capable of," said Bucs coach Tony Dungy, who improved to 6-6 against close friend and former boss Dennis Green. "We put it together and we're still in the hunt. ... I just thought our guys were determined to win."

The Vikings, who beat Tampa Bay 20-16 at home last month, scored on Travis Prentice's 1-yard, third-quarter touchdown run and Daunte Culpepper's 25-yard pass to Randy Moss with just under six minutes to go.

Minnesota finished with a season-low 192 yards net offense, while Tampa Bay gained a season-high 446 and held the ball for more than 38 minutes.

"They just outplayed us," said Culpepper, who broke his nose in the first quarter but didn't leave the game. "It was very surprising to me because I know what we have. But like we found out, if we don't come out there ready to play, that can happen to us. Our intensity level wasn't as high as theirs."

Slow starts have not been unusual for the Bucs under Dungy, and they've used home victories over the Vikings to begin strong stretch runs the past three seasons.

Johnson, sacked 10 times in Tampa Bay's loss to Pittsburgh last week, completed 18 of 25 passes against the team he played for from 1992-98. Aaron Stecker scored his first NFL touchdown on a 35-yard pass play, and Dave Moore's 5-yard TD reception gave the Bucs their 28-point margin at halftime.

The Bucs played the second half without Keyshawn Johnson, who had five catches for 62 yards before leaving the game with a right knee bruise. He already was bothered by a sore right hip that limited him in practice last week and will have a MRI test on the new injury Monday.

A week after allowing 220 yards rushing against the Steelers, the Bucs limited the Vikings to 62 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Culpepper completed 13 of 24 passes for 150 yards and one interception, Moss was held to three catches for 49 yards, and Carter finished with four receptions for 51 yards.

"They were in a desperate situation, or whatever you want to call it, and there was really a tremendous difference in the intensity, especially initially," Carter said.

"Coach Green had warned us all week. ... You look at the film and they don't look that good, but we knew. We talked about the challenge. There are certain things you can't explain and this is one."

The Bucs scored on four of five possessions in the first half, outgaining the Vikings 297-44 and compiling a whopping 20-0 edge in first downs.

Shaun King replaced Brad Johnson in the fourth quarter. He led a drive inside the Vikings' 10 in the closing minutes, but the Bucs didn't try to score.

Instead, King kneeled on three straight plays to turn ball over on downs with 35 seconds left.

"There's really nothing special to talk about," said Alstott, who had his first 100-yard game in two years. "All 53 guys came in here and took it personal, like we always should. This was a must-win, and we stepped up to the plate."

Game notes
The NFC Central rivals split their season series for the ninth straight year ... Dunn (right hamstring) and receiver Jacquez Green (left groin) were inactive for Tampa Bay ... Minnesota ran 13 offensive plays to Tampa Bay's 46 in the first half.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

tbFG13:10Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, -1 yds, 0:19
tbFG10:12Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yds, 1:56
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yds, 2:28
tbTD2:45Mike Alstott, 10 yd run
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yds, 3:29
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yds, 2:28
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yds, 3:29
tbTD9:20Mike Alstott, 6 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 66 yds, 5:21
minTD7:00Travis Prentice, 1 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 83 yds, 3:26
Drive info: 9 plays, 66 yds, 5:21
Drive info: 10 plays, 62 yds, 3:35
Drive info: 10 plays, 75 yds, 2:31
Drive info: 10 plays, 75 yds, 2:31
tbTD1:55Mike Alstott, 3 yd run
Drive info: 15 plays, 80 yds, 8:43
Drive info: 15 plays, 80 yds, 8:43