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Johnson's last-minute grab gives Bucs win

12/9/2001

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- With the game -- and maybe Tampa Bay's season
-- on the line, Keyshawn Johnson demanded the Buccaneers put matters
into his hands.

The NFL's receptions leader approached coach Tony Dungy, then
spoke with offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen before Tampa Bay
got the ball for the last time against winless Detroit on Sunday.

"I said: `It's about time you get me the football. ... Lose
with me or win with me," Johnson said after he leaped above
cornerback Jimmy Wyrick to catch a 13-yard touchdown pass with 45
seconds remaining as the Bucs rallied for a 15-12 victory and the
left winless Lions with another heartbreaking loss as they try to
avoid becoming the first NFL team ever to go 0-16.

Johnson had 10 receptions for 101 yards. He had four for 59
yards on the game-winning drive, including a 15-yarder on
fourth-and-8 to keep the march alive at the Detroit 13.

The two-time Pro Bowl receiver spent the first four seasons of
his career with the New York Jets, who routinely threw to him in
the end zone and when games were on the line.

His final catch Sunday gave him 93 this year, a career high, but
was his first touchdown.

If the Bucs get better play from their offense, can they be considered a playoff threat?
I don't think the Bucs are a playoff threat. They seem to struggle with everybody, and their offense has been sputtering all season.

The Bucs' offense has struggled. The big problem has been the offensive line, which is having a hard time protecting the quarterback and establishing the run.

So the Bucs aren't doing what they normally do well -- run the football and stop the run. In their recent history, the Bucs have attempted to control the clock with the run. But they've become a short passing team, making dink-and-dunk throws.

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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Johnson said never had a problem with asking for the ball when
he was in high school, college or with the Jets. But he had been
reluctant to do it with Dungy.

"I think a lot of it had to do with his demeanor as a head
coach and the respect that I have for him," Johnson said.
"Although I do respect the other guys, it's just a different
approach."

It was the third straight win for Tampa Bay heading into a tough
stretch in which the Bucs (7-5) will face Chicago, New Orleans,
Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Detroit (0-12) took a 12-7 lead on Jason Hanson's fourth field
goal with 11:43 remaining, but couldn't hold on, taking a sack late
in the game that put them out of field goal range.

The Lions have lost their last nine games by an average of less
than five points, and none of those losses were by more than eight
points.

"Many of these games have come down to one or two plays or
inches," Detroit coach Marty Mornhinweg said.

"We're in the position now where it's like a heavyweight
championship fight. You must not rely on the officials or rely on
the opponent to do something. You've got to knock your opponent
out. We've had some opportunities to do that and haven't gotten it
done."

Brad Johnson completed 31 of 54 passes for 305 yards and two
interceptions for Tampa Bay. He kept the game-winning drive alive
with two fourth-down throws, and also had a 14-yard completion to
Keyshawn on third-and-20.

Wyrick had single coverage on the game-winner and went up for
the ball in front of Keyshawn. But Johnson clutched the ball and
snatched it away from the defender as they fell to the ground,
putting Tampa Bay ahead 13-12.

"It was one-on-one," Wyrick said. "I didn't make the play and
he did."

Brad Johnson's 2-point conversion pass to Mike Alstott gave the
Bucs a three-point lead. Detroit's Desmond Howard fumbled the
ensuing kickoff, and Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber recovered to end any
chance of a Lions comeback.

The Bucs scored on Alstott's 24-yard run midway through the
second quarter. Tampa Bay's career TDs rushing list with 38. But
another promising march failed to produce points when Dungy elected
to run a play from the Detroit 3 instead of kicking a field goal
with 5 seconds remaining before halftime.

Brad Johnson was nearly sacked before getting off an underhanded
throw that fell incomplete as time expired.

The gaffe looked especially costly after Kurt Schulz's
interception's set up Hanson's 30-yard field goal. A 50-yarder put
the Lions ahead 9-7, and Hanson's 42-yarder made it 12-7.

Johnson went over 1,000 yards receiving for the third time in
his career. His third reception gave him 86, one more than James
Wilder caught in 1984, when he set the NFL mark for most catches in
a season without scoring.

Rookie Mike McMahon completed 11 of 25 passes for 165 yards and
no interceptions in his first start at quarterback for the Lions.
The last of Tampa Bay's three sacks knocked Detroit out of range to
attempt a field goal that would put the Lions up by eight points
with five minutes left.

"We called a play that we feel we just don't take a sack on,"
Mornhinweg said. "And, we took a sack."

Game notes
Keyshawn Johnson had his third 100-yard game, boosting his
total for the year to 1,077 ... The Bucs are 6-1 against rookie
quarterbacks under Dungy ... Lions cornerback Terry Fair left with
a foot sprain in the second quarter and did not return.