Knee Injury Will Sideline Jurevicius
Joe Jurevicius will miss at least four weeks with a sprained right knee. A week after making two acrobatic touchdown catches against Philadelphia, Jurevicius injured his knee in a collision with FB Mike Alstott in the third quarter Sunday. With a little more than five minutes remaining in the quarter, QB Brad Johnson connected with Alstott for a 12-yard reception. Alstott's helmet hit Jurevicius' right side at the end of the play. Jurevicius was carted off the field after contributing four receptions for 31 yards. That left the Bucs with only three receivers - fifth WR Reggie Barlow was one of eight inactive players. ``Joe's an incredible weapon,'' Ronde Barber said. ``He definitely means a lot to this team. Somebody's got to step up and play for him.'' Karl Williams was moved to Jurevicius' No. 3 spot and should remain there while he is out. The Bucs likely will add another receiver to the roster during Jurevicius' absence. ``That's been my role on this team ever since 1996,'' Williams said. ``It's been to step up when a guy goes down and that's what I prepare myself to do every week.''
No points defense
Brad Johnson needed 334 passing yards to reach 20,000 for his career. He got 339. Before Sunday's game, Johnson, who suffered a groin pull in the second half but is expected to be OK for next week's game in Atlanta, reflected on what the milestone would mean to him. ``It's a lot,'' Johnson said. ``It means I've played with a lot of great players and it means I've been pretty consistent over the years.'' Johnson's 61 pass attempts Sunday set a team record. He had shared the old record of 56 with Doug Williams.
Aaron Stecker's 39 return yards moved him into second on the team's all-time list with 1,902 yards. Reidel Anthony (1997-2001) leads with 2,232. ... An on-field thermometer registered 118 degrees at the start of the game.
The Bucs' attempt at consecutive shutouts ended in the first quarter when Carolina kicked its first field goal - a 28- yarder. The Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Cardinals have recorded three consecutive shutouts.
Last season, eight teams started the season 2-0, and only one of those eight eventually made the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders advanced all the way to the Super Bowl after their 0-2 start, but Denver, Carolina, New England, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami and San Diego all squandered their 2-0 starts.
Five minutes into the third quarter, SS John Lynch gathered the entire defense on the sideline. The Panthers had just driven 70 yards and kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 9-0 lead.
``He said, `Hey guys, just one play at a time. We gave up some yards, but pick your head up, line up on the next play and let's go again,' '' SS John Howell said. ``Everyone just kind of rallied around that.'' One of the few bright spots in Sunday's loss was that Tampa Bay's defense kept the Panthers out of the end zone on three trips to the red zone. The Bucs have gone eight consecutive quarters without giving up a touchdown. They also extended their NFL-record streak of consecutive regular-season games with a sack to 62. CB Brian Kelly's third-quarter interception extended the longest active streak of forcing at least one turnover to 43 games. ``We'll dig down and definitely find some good things from this loss,'' Barber said. ``Our goal-line stand, our red-zone stand, no points on the board, those kinds of things give you a chance to win a ballgame at the end and it did. We had a chance to win. If we kick that extra point, we win that game.''
The Buccaneers helped the Raymond James Stadium crowd get properly fired up for the game by playing a fan-pleasing highlight package prior to the game on the stadium’s huge videoboards. The piece showed highlights from each of the Bucs’ regular season and playoff wins, culminating in the 48-21 victory over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII. Among the plays that drew the largest reactions from the crowd were Derrick Brooks’ interception return against Sat. Louis, Mike Alstott’s tackle-breaking, 19-yard run against Cleveland, the string of interceptions against Green Bay QB Brett Favre, Joe Jurevicius’ 71-yard catch-and-run at Philadelphia, Ronde Barber’s game-clinching interception and touchdown in the NFC Championship Game and Brooks’ interception in the Super Bowl. The pregame ceremony also featured an inflatable Lombardi Trophy and a giant red Buccaneer flag.