Lengthy Punt Returns Negated By Penalties
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 10 September 2007

Tampa Bay almost had good field position twice after big punt returns against Seattle on Sunday, but both opportunities were negated because of penalties. Those untimely mistakes ultimately contributed to Tampa Bay's 20-6 season-opening loss.

WR Joey Galloway returned a punt 37 yards in the first quarter to Seattle's 45-yard line, but the play was brought back after Ronde Barber was called for holding. As a result, Tampa Bay took over on its 10. 'There is holding on every special teams play. Whether or not they call it is another thing,' Barber said. 'Unfortunately when you are put in bad situations like that, it's hard to avoid them.'

The Bucs missed another chance in the third quarter when Ike Hilliard returned a punt 40 yards to Seattle's 49. However, his gain was negated after Sabby Piscitelli was penalized for an illegal block in the back, and Tampa Bay took over on its 7.

'It is kind of hard to know what it is right now. After we look at the tape today, we will be able to assess it,' Hilliard said. 'If guys are working hard, you got to tip your hat to them and to the referees for getting the call. If guys are being lazy and hitting somebody in the back, that is something we can correct ourselves.'

Ruud is a bright spot
Despite Tampa Bay's concerns about middle linebacker since Shelton Quarles' release, Barrett Ruud appears to be a satisfactory replacement. Ruud had 13 tackles (10 solo) in his debut as the starting middle linebacker. Newly acquired LB Jeremiah Trotter was inactive for Sunday's game.

'Our communication was good. That is one of the good things from him playing last year that wasn't brand new as far as our communication goes,' OLB Derrick Brooks said. 'We're going to have to watch the tape to see how we perform, but as far as getting the calls in communication-wise and making checks, I think we did a good job.'

Still streaking
The professional streaks of defensive linemen Kevin Carter and Greg Spires survived Sunday. Rookie DE Gaines Adams was expected to start, which would have meant either Carter or Spires' streak of consecutive starts would have ended. Carter had started 99 consecutive games, while Spires had started 49 straight, and 79 of Tampa Bay's past 80 games.

Those streaks continued as Carter and Spires started. Spires recorded a sack against Matt Hasselbeck for a 7-yard loss in the third quarter and finished with four tackles, while Carter added two tackles. Adams finished with one assisted tackle.

Tanard Jackson became the first rookie defender to start a season opener for Tampa Bay since DE Regan Upshaw in 1996. In addition, rookie LG Arron Sears became the second rookie offensive lineman to start a season opener for Tampa Bay since 1991. Bucs RG Dan Buenning started as a rookie in 2005; G Ian Beckles and C Tony Mayberry started as rookies in 1990.

Game notes
DE Kevin Carter, who opened the game at right defensive end, made his 100th consecutive NFL start. Both he and LB Derrick Brooks have active streaks of 193 consecutive games played. Brooks has started 177 contests in a row.

Rookie safeties Jackson and Sabby Piscitelli made an immediate impact on special teams, too. Each player had a stop inside the 20 on kickoff returns in the first half, and Piscitelli also leveled the block that sprung WR Ike Hilliard on a 12-yard punt return in the first quarter.

Jermaine Phillips recorded the Bucs' first sack of the season and the third of his career when he dropped QB Matt Hasselbeck for a loss of 11 in the second quarter.

The Buccaneers declared the following eight players inactive for Sunday's game: QB Chris Simms, CB Anthony Madison, LB Jeremiah Trotter, DE Patrick Chukwurah, G/T Anthony Davis, G Dan Buenning, DT Ryan Sims and designated third quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.