Five initial observations
BACK IN THE GAME
The past two games have not turned the Bucs into playoff contenders, but they have restored some pride on the sideline. If nothing else, Tampa Bay can go into each game with some hope of coming out with a victory. Just two weeks ago, that idea seemed ridiculous.

QUARTERBACK QUANDARY
It should not be an issue. Regardless of the health of Chris Simms, Brian Griese should be the starting QB. He was not as efficient as in the New Orleans game, but Griese did enough Monday night to earn the job indefinitely. There still is time for Simms to play in 2004, but Griese should be in control until further notice.

WHO'S THAT MAN?
Simeon Rice is the Pro Bowl defensive end. Anthony McFarland is the hand picked successor of a legend. But it is Greg Spires who has caused the most mayhem on the defensive line. He made the biggest plays at New Orleans and applied the most pressure Monday night.

NOT AGAIN
The hope was Martin Gramatica just had an off season in 2003. The fear is it is something more serious. He is 6-of-6 on field goals of 30 yards or less, but 3-of-7 on anything longer. All four misses have been wide left.

IN RETROSPECT
It isn't right to blame Brad Johnson for the early offensive troubles. But it is tempting. Johnson was in charge of 36 full offensive drives and led the Bucs to three TDs. Griese took Tampa Bay to the end zone three times in his first 11 possessions.

5 stats to ponder
TASTY TURNOVERS
Tampa Bay has turned the ball over 10 times, which were converted to five touchdowns and two field goals.

SLOW STARTERS
When the Bucs scored on a 1-yard Mike Alstott run, it ended a streak of seven consecutive games without a touchdown in the first quarter.

WHEN YOU'RE HOT YOU'RE HOT
In four of their games, the Bucs have combined for one sack. In the other two, they've had eight.

WELCOME BACK, GENTLEMEN
Tampa Bay tight ends accounted for one receiving touchdown in 2003. In the past two weeks, Ken Dilger and Will Heller have doubled that output for 2004.

WERE THEY THAT BAD?
It's a rather sad thought, but Monday night was only the second time in 17 games the Bucs offense has scored three or more TDs.

John Romano The St.Petersburg Times 19 October 2004