JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay and Jacksonville hardly
looked ready for the regular season. At least not on offense.
Byron Leftwich threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score -- both
against backups in the third quarter -- and the Jaguars rallied to
beat the Buccaneers 29-18 in a preseason game Saturday night.
The Jaguars weren't nearly as efficient against Tampa Bay's
Leftwich completed 13 of 20 passes for 167 yards, but was sacked
four times in the first half. He has been sacked seven times in
three preseason games, prompting questions about whether he can
stay healthy -- something he hasn't done the last two seasons. He
also has failed to lead the first-team offense to a touchdown
against an opponent's starting defense.
"Everybody, don't get discouraged," Leftwich said. "We're OK
and we'll be ready for the opener. There were a few bumps in the
road. It was kind of a big bump there in the first half. Nothing
went our way. You've got to understand that you have those type of
halves in this league. We came out and began to make plays. Once
you begin to make one, they begin to come in bunches and that's
Tampa Bay's starters scored a touchdown against fellow
first-teamers for the first time in the preseason.
Playing with receiver Joey Galloway and running back Cadillac
Williams for the first time in three preseason games, Tampa Bay
capitalized on several mistakes to take an 11-0 halftime lead.
Galloway and Williams certainly gave the Bucs a boost, but they
were hardly the difference. Jacksonville's errors were.
Galloway caught an 18-yard pass on Tampa Bay's opening drive --
cornerback Terry Cousin missed a tackle on the third-down play --
and Williams set up a touchdown with a 5-yard run.
Mike Alstott plunged 2 yards for the score, the Buccaneers added
a 2-point conversion and then made it 11-0 in the second quarter
after consecutive pass-interference penalties against cornerback
Tampa Bay (1-2) did little else on offense, though.
"It's a concern, but it's not like we're going to panic about
it," Williams said.
Chris Simms was 9-of-14 for 77 yards and was sacked three times
while playing the entire first half. Galloway caught two passes for
28 yards. Williams ran four times for 3 yards and had two
receptions for 9 yards.
"Inconsistency again is the word of the day," Simms said. "We
did some good things, but we left some points out there to be had.
I feel like we have made improvement every week. We're continuing
to build. Hopefully we'll hit our stride (for the season opener)."
Bruce Gradkowski, a rookie from Toledo who had three touchdown
passes for the Bucs in the first two preseason games, had another
one with 6 seconds to play. But he mostly struggled against the
Jags, throwing two interceptions, fumbling twice and probably
ending any chance he had of supplanting Tim Rattay as the team's
"It was good, in a way, to see him get slapped back into the
reality of the league," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said.
The Jaguars (2-1) were equally inept in the first half. But
Leftwich got them moving after the break. He completed consecutive
passes to Reggie Williams and Matt Jones, then the Jaguars ran
seven times in a row to set up Leftwich's 1-yard plunge.
On Jacksonville's next drive, Leftwich completed a 17-yard pass
to Williams, a 27-yarder to Derrick Wimbush and then put the Jags
ahead with a 19-yard fade pass to Jones.
David Garrard -- who fumbled three times, threw two interceptions
and was sacked once while playing with Jacksonville's first-team
offense last week -- directed two scoring drives in the fourth
"We would have loved to come out and put on a great performance
for everybody, but it just didn't happen," Leftwich said. "I know
one thing: the mistakes that we're making, we've got an opportunity
to correct them."
Jags LB Mike Peterson, the team's emotional leader,
sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and
likely won't be ready for the season opener Sept. 10 against
Dallas. ... Jags RB Greg Jones sprained his left knee and did not
return. ... Bucs CB Juran Bolden bruised his thigh.
In selecting Alabama CB Cyrus Jones with their top pick, the Patriots confirmed that his value as a punt returner swayed the decision in his favor.
The Falcons are confident the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be ready by its target opening date but have alternate sites in case of an emergency.
A governor's panel studying a proposed 65,000-seat domed stadium in Las Vegas to lure an NFL franchise was greeted Thursday with a pep talk and changing financial figures.
The Chargers' rookie transition camp, held at team facilities for the first time, was able to reach more first-year players than ever.
A judge has ordered Wells Fargo to take down office-tower rooftop signs near the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson listed his 10,500-square-foot Houston-area home for $8.5 million this week.