Spires Continues To Dig Up Trouble For The Opposition
In a frantic effort to dig out of an early-season hole, the Bucs have turned to their coal miner. And defensive end Greg Spires has responded with some inspired efforts, turning in big plays the past two weeks. Spires stood out again Monday night, even in a 28-21 loss to the Rams, as he hounded quarterback Marc Bulger and twice put him on the turf at the Edward Jones Dome.

Sharing time at the left end spot with second-year pro Dewayne White, Spires registered five tackles and his third-quarter sack and strip set up a 1- yard touchdown catch by tight end Will Heller that forged a 21-21 tie. ``Greg's a blue-collar guy,'' said Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams of the 30-year- old former Florida State standout. ``He's a coal miner type, a guy who gives you everything he's got, and more. Just call the man a worker.''

Spires, who leads Tampa Bay defensive linemen with 32 tackles, also sacked Bulger for a 9-yard loss in the second quarter. Last week in New Orleans, it was Spires who forced a Deuce McAllister fumble that teammate Ronde Barber ran back for an 18-yard score. ``It hurts, this one hurts,'' said Spires after the Bucs dropped to 1-5. ``We should have had this win. The defense played well, but how can you feel good about it in a loss? We needed one extra sack, one extra play on defense.''

Despite giving away 55 pounds to 320-pound right tackle Grant Williams, Spires kept the pressure up against Bulger and helped limit St. Louis to 14 first downs and 324 yards. Williams, filling in for injured Kyle Turley, was no match for Spires' speed and determination. Spires made his biggest impact with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter and the Rams facing a third-and-7 from their 25.

Spires collapsed the pocket and forced a Bulger fumble recovered by Anthony McFarland at the St. Louis 20. Brian Griese's third-down flip to Heller tied the score before the Rams pulled ahead again on Torry Holt's second touchdown reception of the game. ``Greg Spires is really stepping it up around here,'' said right end Simeon Rice, who had one of Tampa Bay's four sacks. ``You've got to tip your hat to Spires - he's putting feathers in his cap.''

The Rams scored one touchdown off Adam Archuleta's 93- yard fumble return and another off a 5-yard drive that took four plays, set up by one of Tampa Bay's three fumbles. ``I feel good about our unit and we worked hard, but it wasn't enough,'' Spires said. ``And in the end, that's all that matters.''