Fans' New Favorite Target: Walker
Tampa Bay fans have a new public enemy No. 1. Without Keyshawn Johnson to boo, Kenyatta Walker received the brunt of the abuse from the Raymond James Stadium crowd Monday night. It started during pregame introductions, as Walker was booed as he ran onto the field. The reaction carried over into the game. When Walker was penalized for holding in the third quarter, the boos returned. Walker's penalty turned a second-and-one situation into second-and-11. WR Reggie Barlow fumbled on the next play and the Giants recovered, leading to a field goal. After two consecutive games with personal foul penalties before Monday, Walker has become synonymous with face-mask infractions. This week Walker was moved back to his usual right tackle position, after three games at left tackle while Roman Oben nursed a broken hand. Going up against Pro Bowl DE Michael Strahan, Walker held his own. Strahan sacked QB Brad Johnson at the end of the first quarter, but did not get another. ``I like it when the fans boo me; I think I play better,'' Walker said.
What a rush
It took seven games, but the Bucs finally got another rushing touchdown. On third-and-goal with 11:21 remaining in the second quarter, RB Thomas Jones jumped over the middle of the line and into the end zone. Jones' 1-yard score was the first since FB Mike Alstott, who is on injured reserve, scored two rushing TDs against Atlanta on Sept. 21. It was Jones' first touchdown as a Buccaneer and his first since Oct. 27, 2002, when he scored on a 7-yard run with the Arizona Cardinals. The touchdown capped a 43-yard drive that was aided by several New York penalties. The Giants were penalized for illegal contact, roughing the passer and a personal foul face mask, accounting for 24 of the 43 yards.
Ain't no brotherly love
With 36 seconds remaining in the first half, Giants RB Tiki Barber burst up the field for 20 yards and could have gotten more. But he was greeted by twin brother, Bucs CB Ronde Barber. Ronde tackled Tiki at the Bucs 20-yard line. It was the first time in their seven-year NFL careers that Ronde brought Tiki down. In their three previous meetings as pros, neither was a significant part of his team at the time. Monday night's game was the first since featuring the Barbers since 1999.
Yes they call it the streak
Playing in his 100th career game, LB Shelton Quarles helped extend the one streak the Bucs defense still owns. Quarles recovered his second fumble of the season in the first quarter, extending the Bucs' streak to 52 consecutive games with a takeaway. It's the longest current NFL streak and second longest in league history. From 1985-90, the Philadelphia Eagles recorded a takeaway in 71 consecutive games. Last week, the Bucs' sack streak ended when they failed to take down Green Bay's Brett Favre. Tampa Bay set an NFL record two weeks ago against Carolina with their 69th consecutive game with a sack. Warren Sapp started a new streak against the Giants when he sacked Kerry Collins in the second quarter. Sapp added another sack late in the fourth quarter for his fifth of the season. He is two shy of passing Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon's team record of 78.5 career sacks.
Quarles suffered a left groin strain in the second quarter. He left the game but returned. DE Simeon Rice left the game late in the second quarter, twisting his neck from side-to- side. Rice returned later and caused a sack/fumble to end the first half, preventing the Giants, who were within field goal range, from scoring. By the end of the game, the Bucs were back to the offensive-line combination with which they started the season. Roman Oben returned from a broken hand to start at left tackle, pushing Kenyatta Walker back to the right. Later in the game, G Jason Whittle, who has not played on the offensive line since Week Five, subbed in at right guard, pushing Cosey Coleman back to left guard.