Best, worst of King on display
Maybe Shaun King should start calling the plays all the time. King struggled to string together successful plays in the freezing weather at Lambeau Field for the better part of three quarters. But in the fourth quarter, he snapped his personal cold streak with a dazzling scoring march.
The second-year quarterback strung together six successive completions for 84 yards to help the Bucs pull within three points of the Packers at 14-11. The Bucs went to a no-huddle attack, which allowed King to call the plays. Starting from his 16-yard line, King spread the ball around with a 14-yarder to Keyshawn Johnson, a 5-yarder to Dave Moore and an 8- yarder to Warrick Dunn. A 13-yard completion to Moore put the Bucs in Green Bay territory.
The next two passes may have been King's best of the day. On first and 10 from the Packers 44, King threw a 26-yarder to Reidel Anthony. Anthony streaked down the field but by design came back and caught the pass, which was thrown slightly behind him.
The ensuing play saw King beat the blitz by lofting an 18-yarder to Johnson. He hauled in the pass at the 1 and tiptoed into the end zone before going out of bounds. "They blitzed us, and Keyshawn just did a good job of beating his man," King said.
That seemed to give King confidence, but he downplayed the strategy and credited offensive coordinator Les Steckel.
"Les called some good plays," King said. "I just thought we were in a better rhythm."
Jacquez Green said the no-huddle attack forced Green Bay to stay with the same defense and made reading coverages easier for King.
"When he went to the no huddle, that's when he caught fire," Green said. "He started calling his own plays, and it got him into a rhythm."
Overall, King completed 21 of 42 for 237 yards, but in the fourth quarter he was 11-for-16 for 133 yards and put Tampa Bay in a position to win.
"It seems like every time we play these guys up here, we have to fight back," coach Tony Dungy said. "We did it today, and I thought our guys played with great effort. You're not usually going to get too many opportunities against Green Bay, but we got them. We just came up a little bit short."
All you need to know about King's 2000 performance was capsulized in this game. At times he looked tentative and uncertain. At times he threw over and behind receivers. He was sacked five times because the Packers blitzed early and often.
"I thought they got to a point where they didn't think they could stop us playing a regular zone defense, so they decided to blitz," King said. "But I thought we adjusted to it for the most part, especially in the second half."
At other times, King looked capable of guiding the Bucs for many years.
King hopes he and friend Donovan McNabb, the Eagles' starting quarterback, have long careers, but for now he has to prepare to face the Eagles.
"It'll be fun. I'll call him (Sunday night) and tell him we'll be there," King said.
Ernest Hooper , The St.Petersburg Times 2000