Gramatica's Woes Continue
Rams S Adam Archuleta's 93-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter was the longest against the Bucs in franchise history. The previous record (68 yards, but no score) was by Green Bay's George Cumby on Oct. 11, 1981.
Tim Brown extended his league-leading streak of 178 games with at least one reception. Brown picked up a first down in the Bucs final drive of the first half. ...
Mike Alstott scored the Bucs' first rushing touchdown since last year's 16-3 victory against Houston on Dec. 14. It was also Tampa Bay's second touchdown in the first quarter in the past 17 games.
The Bucs' inactives were Simms, LB Shelton Quarles, WR Adrian Madise, FB Jameel Cook, G Jeb Terry, WR Joey Galloway and DE Josh Savage. Jason Garrett was the third quarterback.
Brian Griese became the 27th player to start at quarterback for the Buccaneers in 29 seasons, the third in the last three games.
The Bucs are now 8-7 all-time on Monday night.
Tampa Bay is now 39-9 in the regular season when Alstott scores a touchdown.
The Bucs tied the game Monday night at 21 just before the end of the third quarter. They could have been ahead by six. Martin Gramatica's kicking problem reared its ugly head when he missed two field goals wide left. The first, a 35-yard attempt in the second quarter, sailed over the post. Jon Gruden argued the kick was good, but officials said the ball must be inside the post. Gramatica's second miss, a 48-yard attempt with 25 seconds remaining in the half, would have given the Bucs a 17-14 halftime lead.
With his two misses against St. Louis, Gramatica is nine of 13 on the season. The sixth-year veteran is coming off his worst season where he made only 61.5 percent of his field goals. ``You've got to make your field goals,'' Gruden said. ``We're disappointed in that.''
Back starting at tackle
Kenyatta Walker vowed he would start again. It took six games before his declaration came true. Walker replaced Todd Steussie at right tackle Monday night. The Bucs' 2001 first-round draft pick, a starter his first three seasons in the league, lost his starting job when Tampa Bay signed Steussie to a six-year, $20 million deal in the offseason. It was Walker's first start since the Dec. 20 game against Atlanta last season. He was inactive for the regular-season finale against Tennessee after being placed on injured reserve with a torn ligament in his knee. Since his benching, Walker has been working hard to earn his way back onto the field. Inactive for the regular-season opener against Washington, he dressed but did not play in the next two games. He started platooning with Steussie in the Denver game and played most of the game against New Orleans after Steussie gave up a sack that resulted in QB Chris Simms shoulder injury.
Following Torrie Cox's 42-yard kickoff return against New Orleans last week, Gruden said the CB was on his way to solidifying the kickoff return job. Cox's 59-yard return Monday night, which set up the Bucs' first touchdown in the first quarter, should earn him the spot for good. It was the sixth longest return in Bucs history. He added a 44-yard return to open the third quarter. In only his second year in the league, Cox replaced WR Frank Murphy when Murphy ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the Oct. 3 game against Denver. Entering Monday night's game, Cox was second in the NFC with a 26.2 return average.
On the mark
Brian Griese, making his first start as a Buccaneer, was nearly perfect through most of the first half, completing his first nine attempts. Since last week's game against New Orleans, Griese completed 15 consecutive passes, three shy of the franchise record set by Brad Johnson. Steve DeBerg owns the club record with 15 consecutive completions in one game, set against the Vikings in 1986.
DT Damian Gregory was carted off the field late in the second quarter after spraining his left knee. He did not return. WR Charles Lee suffered a right knee sprain during the Bucs' final drive of the first half after catching a 6- yard pass from Griese. He returned in the third quarter. ``It's another receiver problem for us,'' Gruden said. ``We only have three men left.'' FB Greg Comella suffered a left pectoral strain in the third quarter and did not return.