BUCS GET A LIFT FROM THEIR RESERVES
Jon Gruden had one directive for the backups pressed into action Sunday because of injuries: Provide some juice. ``We got some juice from a lot of players,'' said WR Karl Williams, who started in place of WR Keenan McCardell, sidelined with a broken shoulder blade. Third-string WR Joe Jurevicius also was out with a knee and ankle sprain.
Williams was one of several reserves to contribute offensively. RB Aaron Stecker was another. Stecker carried just once, but it was a 59-yard gain that helped set up the Bucs' third touchdown. He also picked up a first down with a 12-yard reception during a third quarter scoring drive. ``For guys who aren't the stars out there, we're always trying to make plays,'' Stecker said. ``We feel that we can make plays. We just want to show Gruden that when the other guys are out, there's no drop off. We can make plays and contribute to the team also.''
Williams proved he's still got it. He was second to WR Keyshawn Johnson with four receptions for 49 yards and one touchdown. QB Brad Johnson's 15-yard touchdown pass to Williams on the Bucs' first possession snapped an eight-quarter offensive touchdown drought. It was only the second touchdown reception for Williams in four seasons. He caught his other against New Orleans last season. ``It felt like old times,'' Williams said. ``If there's one thing I know, I know my role on this offense and on this team. As a backup, I have to always be ready and when my time comes, I have to get in there and make plays. There's no excuses. When the ball is thrown, I have to catch it. When starters go down, we have to step in and help keep the offense rolling. A lot of guys stepped up today.''
PICKING APART THE OFFENSE
Al Singleton intercepted Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper early in the fourth quarter for his second career pickoff and first since 1999. ``I guess I've been giving them to [Derrick] Brooks and [Shelton] Quarles, just letting those guys have the stats,'' Singleton said. ``I had to be selfish today, I guess.''
Singleton became the 10th Tampa Bay defender to record an interception this season. DT Warren Sapp, who got his second Sunday, SS John Lynch (2), CB Dwight Smith (2), CB Brian Kelly (3) and WLB Derrick Brooks (4) all have multiple picks. The Bucs have 18, and could challenge the team record of 32 set in 1981. ``It's a credit to how hard we work with the coaches during the week,'' Singleton said. ``Every day we do drills, as far as reading routes and interception drills. We've got [former quarterback] Tom Tupa throwing balls at us. He's got a gun. It's just a lot of practice, so we're bound to come up with something during the games.''
Gruden proved to be pretty good at motivating the team. But he brought in some extra help before the game. Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command, spoke to the team in the locker room. ``Gen. Franks came in and I think that was the starting point. He got this team fired up,'' Williams said. ``Just to see him, with everything that's going on in the world, to know that he supports us, that alone got our blood boiling. He didn't have to say much. Knowing that he's behind us all the way, that's all it took.''
Franks addressed the Bucs last season before their Dec. 9 victory against Detroit. He was joined Sunday by two other generals, Charles R. Holland (Special Operations Command) and William W. Hodges (Wing Commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing). In honor of Military Appreciation Day, the trio served as honorary captains and participated in the pregame coin toss.