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Tampa defense too much for Dallas

10/27/2003
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Warren Sapp prides himself on having a finger
on the pulse of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Super Bowl champions have yet to win consecutive games, but
Sunday's 16-0 domination of Bill Parcells' Dallas Cowboys left the
All-Pro defensive tackle with a positive vibe about the team's
chances of pulling out of an early season malaise.

Question on the Cowboys: Was this a bump in the road or will they come back to Earth?
This is merely a hiccup for the Cowboys. At 5-1, they could afford to lose a game and this week, they just ran into a more determined opponent. I'm not worried about this team falling back to Earth.

Question on the Buccaneers: Is this the type of game Tampa Bay needed to get back on track?
Yes, the Bucs needed this victory badly. After last week's poor showing, a big win was needed. They can definitely use this victory to get back on track.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"This is a marathon, not a three-week race," Sapp said after
the Bucs forced three turnovers, sacked Quincy Carter four times
and limited Dallas to a season-low 178 yards in stopping the
Cowboys' five-game winning streak.

"This wasn't about a statement. It was about going back to what
we like to do. That's playing hard-nosed defense, shutting people
out and giving ourselves a chance to win games. That's why we're
world champions. We play lights-out defense. When we are doing
that, we make you earn every yard you get against us."

The shutout was the second of the season for Tampa Bay (4-3),
which gave up 458 yards -- most by an opponent since 1991 -- in a
24-7 loss at San Francisco the previous week. Three weeks ago, the
defense that led last season's Super Bowl run blew a
three-touchdown lead in the last four minutes of regulation before
losing to Indianapolis in overtime.

"We receive a lot of criticism, and we just go back to work,"
Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "You don't talk about it, you
just go back to work. We put in the work and you saw the result."

Keyshawn Johnson ended a week in which his agent complained
about the receiver's role in Tampa Bay's offense by catching a
7-yard touchdown pass and Martin Gramatica kicked field goals of
24, 26 and 50 yards.

Sapp, Anthony McFarland, Ellis Wyms and Chartic Darby had sacks
and Jermaine Phillips and Ronde Barber each had interceptions to
help the injury-riddled defense regain some of its swagger.

The victory was sweet, too, because the Cowboys have been one of
the NFL's biggest surprises in their first season under Parcells --
the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach who walked away from
agreements to take over the Bucs twice in the past 12 years.

"This is a pretty good beating," Parcells said. "The score
wasn't as bad really as I thought it was. Had we not held them a
few times on defense, this could have gotten out of control."

Johnson, who played three seasons under Parcells when he was
with the New York Jets, was booed during pregame introductions by a
crowd of 65,602 responding to his agent's comments, as well as
Johnson's own statements about Parcells being his favorite coach.

Amid the jeers, Johnson ran across the field and shook the hand
of his former coach.

There were nothing but cheers, though, when Brad Johnson rolled
to his right and found the two-time Pro Bowl receiver in the corner
of the end zone for a 10-0 lead.

"We have three losses and we can't afford to get more,"
Keyshawn Johnson said. "We won the Super Bowl last year, but that
was last year. It's important to get on a winning track and get
back to the way we are used to."

Michael Pittman ran for 113 yards on 30 carries for Tampa Bay,
while Brad Johnson was 13-of-26 for 151 yards and no interceptions.

Dallas began the day with the NFL's top-ranked defense. But the
Bucs showed they still have one of the best units in the league,
even with three newcomers -- cornerbacks Tim Wansley and Corey Ivy
and safety Jermaine Phillips -- in the secondary.

Not all of the Cowboys were impressed.

"You think they've got a great defense?" running back Troy
Hambrick said. "I think we made enough mistakes to make them look
good."

The Bucs, who have yet to win consecutive games this season,
improved to 7-0 after losses under Jon Gruden, who was hired as
coach after Parcells pulled out of a signed contract to replace
Tony Dungy after the 2001 season.

The Cowboys' winning streak was their longest since 1994. Carter
was 15-of-25 for 140 yards and was intercepted twice. A week after
yielding 212 yards rushing in a 24-7 loss at San Francisco, the
Bucs limited the Cowboys to 60 yards on 22 carries.

The closest Dallas came to scoring was Billy Cundiff's 41-yard
field goal attempt, which sailed wide right late in the first
quarter. He had made 12 straight before that.

"I thought the game after the first half should have been
6-3," Parcells said. "But even with 13-0, if we could have just
done a little something, we might have been able to get back in it.
But the way we played, we really didn't have much chance."

Game notes
The Bucs have at least one sack in 67 straight games, one
shy of the NFL record set by Dallas from 1976-80. ... Hambrick led
the Cowboys in rushing with 25 yards on 11 attempts. ... Bucs
safety John Lynch was inactive because of a neck and shoulder
injury.