Ron Martz
The frustrations of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense finally caught up to the defense Sunday and dragged what had been the team's only bright spot back to its level of play. Stripped of three defensive starters by injuries and fights and flustered by a flurry of yellow nags, the Bucs' defense yielded seven straight scores after being handed a 3-0 lead to protect and allowed the Baltimore Colts to run them out of Memorial Stadium 42-17 Sunday afternoon.

Although the Bucs scored their first touchdowns of the regular season on a 44-yard fumble recovery by Danny Reece and a one-yard plunge by Charlie Davis, it all happened in the last two minutes of the last quarter, well after the Colts had tucked away their third victory in four tries.

THE WINLESS (0-4) Bucs had taken a 3-0 lead on a 40-yard Dave Green field goal with 1:26 remaining in the first period but then a cold and ram-spattered crowd of 40,053 was treated to an offensive display compliments of Bert Jones.

The Colts' quarterback tossed touchdown passes of 48 yards to Roger Carr and 24 yards to Lydell Mitchell and directed drives that ended in a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by Roosevelt Leaks and field goals of 32 and 38 yards by Toni Linhart. Reserve quarterback Bill Troup also got his hands into the scoring act, directing a drive that ended with a two-yard Don McCauley touchdown run. While the Colts were demonstrating their high-powered offensive horsepower, the Bucs once again sputtered along.

The Bucs got six first downs (the Colts had 31), the Bucs gained 89 total yards (the Colts had 458), the Bucs completed four of 15 passes (the Colts were 19 of 83) and the Bucs were penalized 12 times for 94 yards (the Colts even had the edge in this department with 11 flags for 124 yards, a team record). Steve Spurrier played only the first half for the Bucs and hit two of nine passes for 36 yards. He was also sacked twice. His replacement, rookie Parnell Dickinson, was one of five for 12 yards.

He was dumped six times. (The eight sacks are a Colt team record). The Bucs' leading passer was wide receiver Lee McGnff, whose 39-yard pass to Barry Smith set up Davis' one-yard touchdown run in the fourth period. "Field position hurt us badly, dropped passes hurt us badly, no blocking hurt us badly, injuries hurt us badly and penalties hurt us badly," said John McKay, head coach of the Bucs. "Otherwise, it was a perfect afternoon. But we'll be back. Maybe not in this century, though."

The Bucs, who have played their three previous opponents even until the final quarter, didn’t wait long against the Colts. The second quarter was the killer. Strangled by penalties and the Bucs' defense, the Colts did nothing in the first quarter and had the Baltimore loyalists booing as Tampa Bay sashayed into the lead via Green’s 40- yard field goal.

THE NEXT time they got their hands on the ball, the Colts moved downfield, with Lydeil Mitchell (14 carries for 98 yard') getting a bag chunk on a 43-yard sweep. On that play linebacker Cal Peterson went down with a knee injury and did not play the rest of the game.

Then with second-and-five from the five. Jones dropped to pass, was pressured by Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon and got the ball off just he was hit. It was incomplete and Jones complained to the official about alleged late hitting. Next play. Jones threw into the end zone again and was hit by Dewey as he threw. Reece intercepted in the end zone, but roughing the passer was called.

On the next play defensive back Mike Washington and the Colts Glenn Doughty wore thrown out of the game for fighting. One play later Leak had his first touchdown. Linhart got his 32-yard field goal on the next Colt drive, that coming with 5:36 to play in the first half. Then starting from their own 25, the Colts stumbled downfield with the help of the Bucs defense.

First, linebacker Richard Wood dropped a pass in his hands on a second and 16 deep in Baltimore territory. Then with a first and 10 from their own 37, the Colts advanced 39 yards on an incomplete pass as defensive back Reece was called for interference and a personal foul on the same play. Two plays later, Reece was called for pulling a facemask and three plays later, Leak had another touchdown and the Colts were off and running at 17-3. They upped that to 24-3 at the half when Jones hit Carr with the 48-yard scoring with only 17 seconds to play in second quarter.

THE COLTS continued their assault in the third quarter. A 59-yard drive ended when Jones tossed a swing pass to Mitchell and he blasted through tackles to complete a 24.yard scoring play. A mishandled snap resulted in a blocked kick and it was 30-3.

Linhart's 33-yard field goal came on Baltimore’s next possession which was rapidly followed by McCauley’s two-yard scoring plunge that upped it to 40-3 with 11:50 to play in the fourth period. A safety, when Don Fernandes tackled Dickinson in the end zone, accounted for the Colts' last two points.

It was over there, except that the Bucs did break their touchdown drought. “But” said Charlie Davis, scorer of the offense’s first touchdown, “scoring a touchdown doesn't give you much of a mental edge when you get beat 42- 17.