Surprise! Flags again fly for Bucs
Jorge Diaz said he must be a marked man. "I think the refs are out to get me, to tell you the truth," he said. "That was a terrible call."

Diaz was penalized twice for holding - once in the second quarter, again in the third - in the Bucs' 20-3 win over the Giants on Sunday, adding noticeably to Tampa Bay's 69 penalty yards. The Bucs were penalized an average of 42.5 yards last season, lowest in the NFL. They have amassed 332 yards this season. Not good for a team trying to jump-start its offense.

"I don't know if the officials had a meeting after they found out we were the least penalized team (in the league) last year or what," said cornerback Donnie Abraham, who was tagged for the first personal foul call of his career in the second quarter. "I really can't tell you why we're getting so many more calls."

No one will talk about it much for fear of being penalized - in cash, not yards - by the league. But the Bucs are concerned. "I have never been penalized this much in my career," Diaz said. "I really have to look at the tape and see if I'm doing anything wrong, because it's frustrating. I work on this every day in practice and when I get a holding call, I hate to go back to the sideline and look at the guys. It's a bad, bad feeling."

Diaz is not sure what he's doing wrong, and he's not the only one. Abraham swears he went for the shoulders when covering Chris Calloway on a short pass. "I guess the refs thought I went for the head," Abraham said. "I saw the flag fly and I guess I'll get a call from the league (with a fine) next."

With an offense that doesn't exactly rack up the yards or rake in the points, every yard and every call counts. "We will just have to review the tape and see if they were good calls," coach Tony Dungy said. "I can only assume they were."

Other penalties were assessed to safety Damien Robinson for a chop block and to Hardy Nicholson for illegal contact. Paul Gruber jumped offside. A holding call on Reidel Anthony brought back a long Jaquez Green end around in the second quarter, the Bucs' longest run of the afternoon, and he was caught on a false start in the fourth.

Shelton Quarles was flagged for holding, Charles Mincy was tagged for an incidental face mask, and Steve White's roughing-the-passer penalty offset a New York holding penalty to give the Giants a second shot at third and 10 in the third quarter. "It's something we'll definitely work on during the off week," Diaz said. "I'll look at the tapes, look at my technique, fix what I can."

We're No. 1? Unfortunately, that's true in the penaltydepartment. The Buccaneers are the most penalized team in the and rank fourth in the NFL behind Oakland, San Diego and Kansas City.

Robbi Pickeral , The St.Petersburg Times 1998