Clayton Joins An Exclusive Club
Joey Galloway's touchdown reception was the sixth time this season the Bucs have scored on their opening drive (four touchdowns and two field goals).
Dave Moore doubled his reception total for the season when he picked up a first down early in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard catch. It was his first reception since the Sept. 26 Oakland game. Moore, the long snapper, got more playing time at tight end with backup Will Heller on injured reserve. Rookie TE Nate Lawrie, signed to the active roster this week, also got his first NFL playing time but didn't record any statistics.
Derrick Deese appeared in his 150th career game on Sunday. He has started 130 of those 150 games.
Second-year DE Dewayne White made his first start of the season and the second of his career on Sunday, opening the game at left end. Usual LE starter Greg Spires slid into the middle to start at under tackle in place of Chidi Ahanotu. It was Spiresís first career start at defensive tackle.
Simeon Riceís sack on the final play of the first quarter was his 10th of the season. That gave him double digits in that category for the fourth year in a row and the seventh time in nine NFL seasons.
Rookie WR Michael Clayton became the sixth Buccaneer to record a 1,000-yard receiving season, joining Keyshawn Johnson (2), Kevin House (2), Mark Carrier, Bruce Hill and Keenan McCardell. Clayton caught four passes for 53 yards and now has 1,041 yards on the season.
Joe Hornís four-yard score in the fourth quarter was the first offensive touchdown allowed by the Bucs at home in 13 quarters, dating back to the third quarter of the Kansas City game on Nov. 7. That drive covered all of four yards.
Michael Clayton had already set franchise rookie records for most receptions (74) and receiving yards (988) entering Sunday's game. His 53 yards against the Saints marked another milestone. Clayton became the 14th rookie pass catcher to record 1,000 receiving yards. Last year, Arizona WR Anquan Boldin had 101 receptions for 1,377 yards. Clayton's teammate, WR Joey Galloway, accomplished the feat his rookie season of 1995 with the Seahawks (67 receptions for 1,039 yards). Needing only 12 yards entering the game, Clayton reached 1,000 with his first reception, which was for exactly 12 yards, on the Bucs' second possession. Three of Clayton's team-leading four receptions Sunday picked up first downs, including his longest of the game, a 23-yard catch in the third quarter.
Not so super
The loss Sunday did more than virtually knock the Bucs out of the playoff race. The 21-17 setback to the Saints guaranteed Tampa Bay a second consecutive losing season. The Bucs are the first team to follow a Super Bowl win with back-to- back losing seasons. The last time the Bucs posted consecutive sub-.500 seasons was 1995-96. Jon Gruden becomes the first Bucs coach since Sam Wyche (1992-95) to suffer back-to-back losing seasons. ``It doesn't get any worse than that,'' Gruden said of Sunday's loss. ``I have never seen that before. I am speechless. I am looking for an explanation for our players and our fans. All I can say is that it is my responsibility. I failed.''
It had been two years since the Bucs scored a touchdown on a punt return. For Galloway, it had been six years. For the first time since the 1998 season, Galloway made it into the end zone on a punt return. The 10th-year veteran returned his first punt of the second half 59 yards to give the Bucs a 14-7 lead. It was the Bucs' first punt return for a touchdown since Karl Williams returned one 56 yards against Baltimore on Sept. 15, 2002. ``To be honest with you, I didn't do a whole lot,'' Galloway said. ``The guys blocked well. I didn't do much, it was all blocking. Losing takes the excitement out of it, for sure.''
Galloway also scored a receiving touchdown on the Bucs' opening drive. It marked his third consecutive game with at least one touchdown. He has five touchdowns in the past three games. ``That's something that we expected from him,'' Gruden said. ``He has a chance to be great.''
Saints starting LT Wayne Gandy limped off the field midway through the first quarter with a knee bruise. He returned later in the game but went down again on the first play of the second quarter when Bucs DT Greg Spires sacked Saints QB Aaron Brooks for a 10- yard loss. Gandy left again to have his knee X-rayed, which revealed a sprain. The Bucs reported no injuries.
S Jermaine Phillips, CB Torrie Cox, FB Greg Comella, TE Billy Baber, T Anthony Davis, G Jeb Terry, WR Charles Lee and designated third quarterback Brad Johnson.