Hubert Mizell
Expertly executing the fumble, the dropped pass, the penalty and the arm tackle to their best disadvantage, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers constructed a masterpiece of mistakes Sunday in Shea Stadium and paved the way for Joe Namath to resuscitate the New York Jets and lead them to a 34-0 victory.

Playing for the first time in three Sundays, the 33 year-old Namath entered the game in the first quarter and hit seven of 12 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown as the Jets dashed to a 24-0 halftime lead. Namath left the game at the end of the second period because of swelling in his arthritic right knee, but by that time he had turned what was to have been the Bucs' best shot at a victory this season into confidence-shattering experience.

“Joe is just too good for us," Bucs' Head Coach John McKay said after his team's 10th straight loss this season without a win. "We knew what he was going to do and he just went ahead and did it”. Our players were real polite to him too. They even picked him up and one of them was back there so long I thought he was going to get his autograph.

"But they beat us in every phase of the game, blocking, running and tackling. We played as poorly as we can and they outplayed us badly. It was by far our poorest defensive game.

The Bucs' defense was susceptible not only to Namath, but to running backs Clark Games and Steve Davis, Davis had 76 yards on 16 carries With one touchdown while Gaines, a free agent from Wake Forest, gained 103 yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown. It was Gaines' third plus game since taking over for the injured Ed Marinaro four games ago.

Davis' touchdown with 1:54 to play in the first period was set up by the first of three Louis Carter fumbles. Two of the fumbles led to touchdowns, the other prevented the Bucs from scoring. That first one was fumbled at the Tampa Bay 14-yard line and Namath, entering the game for the first time, handed to Gaines, Gaines broke six tackles and went in from 14 yards out. "We tackled poorly we could." said McKay. "I’ve seen junior high teams tackle better than we did today."

The Jets' second score was the result of a 78-yard, nine-play drive in the second with Namath effectively mixing pass and run. On first down from the New York 22 he hit Richard Caster for 11 from the shotgun formation, then Gaines carried for 11, Namath hit Lou Piccone for 14, then Davis ran for 13 and 11 yards on consecutive plays.

Two plays later a play-action pass froze the defense and Caster was alone in the end zone for a three-yard scoring pass. A major play on the drive was a pass interference call on Bucs' cornerback Danny Reece that gave the Jets a first down at the Tampa Bay 28.

On the Jets’ next possession a roughing-the-passer penalty and a 16.yard pass to Caster set up Pat Leahy's 21-yard field goal that made it 17-0 with 1:54 to play in the half. Carter’s fumble of the ensuing kickoff gave New York the ball at the Bucs' 25-yard line and four plays and a defensive holding penalty later it was 24-0 when Davis skirted left end from five yards out for the score.

Less than two minutes into the third period Piccone returned a Dave Green punt 60 yards for a touchdown and early in the fourth quarter Leahy hit a 30-yard field goal for the final score.

While the Jets were busily gaining yards and scoring points, the Bucs were going through their usual offensive frustrations. The closest they came to a score was with less than two minutes left in the game when Parnell Dickinson, the third Bucs' quarterback, hit Johnny McKay for 49 yards to the Jets' 16. But on third down Carter fumbled a screen pass and quickly eliminated whatever threat there had been of a touchdown.

It was the fourth shutout for the Bucs this season. But for the Jets, it was their first in 13 yean. Since they did it to Kansas City in 1963 in the Polo Grounds, and their first ever in Shea Stadium.

"After that punt return put us ahead 31-0 in the second half, things kind of deteriorated offensively," said Lou Holtz, a rookie coach of the Jet8 from North Carolina State. Holtz played it conservatively in the last two periods, making every effort not to run up the score on the Bucs, who were blitzed 48-13 by the Broncos in Denver last week.

"We had a lot of things happen to us today," said Holtz. "I think the big thing is that our players found out that if we don't make a lot of stupid mistakes we can play with most teams in this league." The only bad thing that happened to the Jets all day was that 10,132 ticket buyers did not show up for the games reducing the attendance to 46.427. But with Namath's performance against the Bucs rekindling the old fires, they'll probably be back next week for the New England Patriots.