TD Streak Ends, Another Begins
The Bucs' streak ended with 10:31 remaining in the third quarter. After refusing to give up a touchdown for 17 consecutive regular-season quarters, the Bucs defense allowed a touchdown when Atlanta running back Woodrow Dantzler - lining up at quarterback - ran in from the 1-yard line on third- and-goal. It capped Atlanta's 2-yard scoring drive. That's right. Two yards in three plays.
The only touchdown the Bucs now have given up in their last 19 quarters of regular-season play was set up by a 37-yard return to the Bucs 2 by linebacker Sam Rogers after a fumble by Thomas Jones. And even then, the Falcons had to sweat. Two rushes by running back Warrick Dunn netted one yard before Dantzler, a former quarterback at Clemson, was sent in to run an option. ``You just move on,'' Anthony McFarland said. ``I don't think any team in the history of the game has ever gone a whole year without giving up a touchdown. We've played three games and given up one touchdown. We've only given up 22 points total in three games, so I think that's pretty good.''
Just the same, the streak is dead. Taken down by a 2-yard drive. ``We still try to take pride in those kind of quick-change situations,'' Ronde Barber said. ``Get on the field, try to keep them out of the end zone. That's our first loss in the red zone this year. It is what it is. We'll start another streak.''
For consolation, the Bucs held Atlanta to a net 136 yards of offense. The Falcons had 13 first downs, but four of them came from penalties. Atlanta had the football for less than 25 minutes, more than 10 minutes less than the Bucs. The Falcons were three of 12 in third-down conversions. The Bucs had four interceptions - two by Dwight Smith - and one fumble recovery. ``Just playing like we know how to play, man,'' McFarland said. ``When you play the game of football like you know how to play, everything takes care of itself. I think it did pretty much today. We played well. We played Buc Ball. Defense was flying around. Offense was scoring. Special teams guys were hustling, making big hits. That's how we play ball.''
Jon Gruden liked what he saw. ``We took some big turnovers,'' Gruden said. ``What can you say when you limit a team to the amount of yards they did today? It's a great accomplishment. Again, we have a fiery defensive squad. We have some outstanding players there. If we can become a team that complements each other between offense, defense and special teams, we have a chance to be pretty good.''