Spurlock has special day in return game
Connor Barth and Micheal Spurlock represented the bold and the beautiful for Buccaneers fans Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Spurlock sparked Tampa Bay with two huge kickoff returns in the 27-21 setback, while Barth recovered his own onside kick late in the third quarter, only to have the result reversed when Atlanta challenged the on-field ruling.

"We practice it all the time and it was a good call,'' said Barth, who appeared to touch the ball inadvertently with his left leg just before his squib kick went the required 10 yards. "I slid by it, the refs made a judgment call and you have to live with it.''Falcons coach Mike Smith admitted the Bucs caught his team flatfooted.

"We were very fortunate there was an illegal touching,'' Smith said. "Luckily, there is replay and you can challenge those things. It was a strategic move on their part that was very good.''

Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia ordered up the onside kick mere seconds after Spurlock had pulled the Bucs within six points by scooping up a kickoff mishandled by Maurice Stovall and tight-roping down the right sideline for 89 yards.

"Teams tend to relax and get a little flat-footed in those kickoff situations when you don't know who is going to pick up the ball,'' Bucs LB Niko Koutouvides said. "We've been talking a lot about getting more return yards and Spurlock had a big day. I thought the onside kick was a great call and great execution. Sometimes, the pigskin bounces in mysterious ways. That was a tough break for us and a great break for them. Having that play overturned took all our momentum away.''

Spurlock's 66-yard return early in the second quarter set up a Josh Freeman TD pass after the Falcons had sprinted to a 140810n-0 lead.

"We made some big plays out there, but we didn't get the victory,'' said Spurlock, the first player in Bucs history to register two kickoff returns of at least 60 yards in the same game. "Still, we're 5-3 and in no way are we out of this thing.''

About the writer
Ira Kaufman has long been both a great writer for The Tampa Tribune and friend to the Bucs UK and BUCPOWER.COM. He writes on all sports for the paper but during the NFL season offers his stories on not just the Buccaneers, but also the NFL in general.