McCardell Refrains From Crowing
His current team is 10-3 and primed for the playoffs for the first time since the 1994 season. His former team is 5-8 and primed to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Still, WR Keenan McCardell didn't feel like gloating. ``I'm here now, and I'm having fun,'' McCardell said. ``It hurt that I didn't finish the game, but I love that we won. It was a big victory for us.''
Michael Clayton set a franchise rookie record on his fifth catch of the day. Clayton passed FB Mike Alstott (65) with his 66th reception.

The Chargers' 79-yard touchdown in the second quarter was their longest pass play since Nov. 19, 2000.

Torrie Cox was inactive for the second consecutive game. Cox was inactive for the Atlanta game Dec. 5, a day after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Ian Smart returned kickoffs Sunday, averaging 21.2 yards per return. S Dexter Jackson also was inactive (hamstring). The other inactives were S Jermaine Phillips, T Anthony Davis, G Jeb Terry, WR Charles Lee and DE Corey Smith. Brad Johnson was the third quarterback.

Both teams performed well on third downs all day, leading to the high yardage totals. The Bucs converted seven of 16 third-down tries while San Diego was good on five of 11 tries.

The Bucs are now 0-6 in 2004 when they have a negative turnover ratio. They have won just twice in 22 tries under that condition since the 2000 season.


``Us'' as in the Chargers. He used to be one of them, the Bucs, before a contentious contract holdout led to his trade. McCardell spent the entire offseason and first six weeks of the regular season idle while he held out. The Bucs traded him Oct. 19 to San Diego for third- and sixth- round draft picks.

Sunday, McCardell caught only three passes for 30 yards before injuring his hamstring in the second quarter. He did not return to the game. McCardell was silent all week leading up to the game and admitted his emotions ran high Saturday night in anticipation. Though he didn't speak to Coach Jon Gruden before the game, he said there is no ``bad blood'' between them.

Would the Bucs have started the season 0-4 if McCardell had been playing? The 13-year veteran wouldn't go so far to say his presence would have made a difference, but he feels for his friends on the team. ``I know it's eating at them,'' McCardell said. ``There are a lot of competitors on that team. I just wasn't there to help them early. ... I don't deal in what ifs. That sounds kind of familiar. I don't deal in what ifs. It's unfortunate they're in this situation right now.''

Turnovers good
Rookie S Will Allen grabbed his first career interception, off a pass intended for McCardell, in the second quarter. Allen, the Bucs' fourth-round pick out of Ohio State, was in for starter John Howell, who sprained his right ankle on a kickoff earlier in the second quarter. The takeaway, one of the Bucs' three Sunday, led to a 20-yard field goal attempt by K Jay Taylor that was good but negated by a tripping penalty against Ken Dilger. Then Taylor's 30-yard attempt failed when the ball hit the left goal post. Taylor said he lifted his head on the second attempt, which forced him to miss it. ``Missing short field goals, there's a sag, a downer,'' Gruden said. ``It's like somebody died. You have a hard time putting it back together.''

Penalty problems
Dilger's tripping infraction was one of the Bucs' 12 penalties Sunday. It's their second highest penalty total this season. They had 13 for 83 yards against the Falcons in their 24-14 loss on Nov. 14. Against the Chargers, the Bucs gave up 111 yards in penalties. The Bucs are 2-2 this season when their penalties reach double digits. ``We had some bad penalties, there's no question,'' Gruden said. ``I didn't agree with some of them. ... I've got to take responsibility for the penalties. It certainly was a downer. ``We disrupted some drives, and we helped San Diego continue with some of their own.''

Injury update
Joey Galloway was injured after he slipped during a punt return late in the fourth quarter. Galloway, already hampered by groin and ankle injuries, limped off the field suffering from cramps. Howell limped off the field following a kickoff in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain. He returned to play on special teams.