Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio
John Romano, The St.Petersburg Times, published 4 October 2004

CHOKING THE HOPE AWAY: It's not just frustrating how the Bucs lose close games, it's uncanny. Since winning the Super Bowl, Tampa Bay is 0-7 in games decided by four points or fewer.

LEAVING THE WHEELCHAIRS BEHIND: A younger tailback. A younger tight end. Two younger receivers. A younger right tackle for a brief time. I don't want to say the offense no longer looks old, but now it doesn't leave the turn signal on when driving downfield.

MAKE A $&#!@ PLAY: As well as the defense has played the past two seasons, it consistently has failed to stop opponents on the final drive. Trailing Washington by three points in the opener, the Bucs allowed the Redskins to hold the ball for all but 16 seconds of the final five minutes. Trailing the Broncos by three Sunday, Denver held the ball for all but three seconds of the final seven minutes.

THIS JUST IN: Frank Murphy ruptures an Achilles tendon and is out for the season. Keenan McCardell offers to break the news to Jon Gruden.

TELL YOUR STATISTICS TO SHUT UP: Kenyatta Walker replaced right tackle Todd Steussie on two possessions in the second quarter but sat the rest of the game. On those two possessions, the Bucs scored a touchdown and field goal. Probably just a coincidence.

Five positive signs
5. Offense added a few new wrinkles with different players. As opposed to the previous plan of adding a few new players with wrinkles.

4. Turns out, Simeon Rice is not holding out.

3. Receivers given permission to run past defensive backs.

2. The league has agreed to consider Tampa Bay's request to play against RB Quentin Griffin every week.

1. No hurricane.

Five ways to lose
TIP TOE THROUGH THE RED ZONE: The Bucs had first downs inside the Denver 20 on two possessions. They didn't score a touchdown either time. The league average for TDs in the red zone is around 50 percent. After going 0-for-2 Sunday, the Bucs are at 14 percent.

PASS INTERFERENCE ON THE WINNING DRIVE: You may argue the penalty called on Dwight Smith, but the Bucs have only themselves to blame. Smith was in a position to be flagged because he was running halfway across the field to reach an open receiver.

PUTTING YOUR MAN DOWN: On a third and 1 in the second half, John Lynch sticks Mike Alstott in the backfield for a loss and a Bucs drive ends.

PUTTING YOUR MAN DOWN (NOT!): On a third and 1 in the fourth quarter, Smith sticks Reuben Droughns in the backfield. Droughns runs through the tackle and a Broncos drive continues.


Five final words for John Lynch
Congratulations on getting outta here.