9:00 PM ET, September 8, 2003
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a taste of the ultimate feeling in sports, and they're hungry for more.
|Game strikes chord with viewers|
NEW YORK -- The marquee matchup between the Bucs and Eagles produced the highest
overnight rating for an NFL Monday night opener since 2000.The Bucs' 17-0 victory drew a 15.1 rating with a 23 share on
ABC, up 4 percent from the opener last year between Pittsburgh and
New England that drew a 14.5 rating and 23 share.The game also had the highest rating since Dec. 18, 2000, when
the St. Louis-Tampa Bay game received a 15.9 rating and 25 share.
The opener that year between Denver and St. Louis produced a 15.9
rating and 26 share.The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or
not they are in use. The share is the percentage of homes with sets
-- Associated Press
Never allowing Donovan McNabb and the Eagles any breathing room, the Bucs showed the kind of balance that made them champions for the first time. They shut down the running lanes and befuddled McNabb, who finished 19-for-36 for 148 yards. Philadelphia gained 245 yards overall, much of it in garbage time. "It's kind of hard not to think about last year," McNabb admitted. "Everyone talks about it so much and then we had to wait until now to play the game." They didn't play it very well as Tampa Bay, which ended the 2002 season with a 15-0 win at Chicago, got its second successive regular-season shutout. Sapp even got into the act on offense, making a 14-yard fourth-quarter reception on which he faked out two Eagles to get to the Philadelphia 11-yard line. After his first career catch, Sapp made an exaggerated first-down signal, the final insult to the quiet fans who expected so much more from their team. "He could start at tight end for a lot of teams," Johnson said. "He brings something to our huddle. I am glad he is on our side." Jurevicius finished that drive with a brilliant 7-yard TD catch for his second score of the night. Jurevicius tipped a high pass into the air at the 2, slipped around a defender and made a lunging reception in the end zone for a 17-0 lead. Johnson was 13-of-14 in the second half for 119 yards and both TDs. He hit Jurevicius on a 13-yard score to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive in the third period. Jurevicius leaped in the corner of the end zone for Johnson's pinpoint pass and caught it while barely tiptoeing inbounds for the touchdown. Eagles coach Andy Reid challenged the call, but it was upheld. Johnson was 27-for-36 for 238 yards. A 40-minute pregame celebration for the new building was about all the excitement the locals got. The Eagles even brought out Philadelphia's favorite fictional hero, "Rocky." Sylvester Stallone, wearing a No. 22 Eagles jersey, wildly arm-pumped and exhorted the crowd into a frenzy. Then the Bucs put on the silencer. Early on, the game had a preseason look, not that of a prime-time showcase rematch of January's NFC championship game. Penalties and missed assignments easily outnumbered big plays. But when the Bucs got going, they left no doubt that the Eagles -- and probably every other NFL team -- have much catching up to do. Philadelphia actually started well. James Thrash's 47-yard end-around to open Philadelphia's second drive got the ball deep in Tampa Bay territory. A 15-yard pass interference call against star safety John Lynch put the ball at the 1, but the Eagles flopped from there, even failing on a faked field goal. "It's devastating when you get to the 1 and don't score," running back Duce Staley said. It was the last time the Eagles threatened. "I take the responsibility for our negligence and performance," Reid said. The Bucs took the fever out of the crowd of 67,772 by deflecting Dirk Johnson's punt. Jermaine Phillips tipped it and the ball rolled just 7 yards to the Philadelphia 31. Philadelphia held near its goal line and Martin Gramatica hit from 26 yards early in the second quarter to open the scoring.
Joe Jurevicius keyed the Bucs' offense.
Rice has sacked high-school teammate McNabb 12½ times in his NFL career. ... Sapp had the Bucs' highest average per catch, 14 yards. ... Philadelphia now is 10-1 in prime time under Reid ... The Eagles had played 45 straight games since losing two in a row ... It was Philadelphia's first shutout loss since a 26-0 defeat at Buffalo in 1999. ... Eagles CB Bobby Taylor (left foot) and DE Brandon Whiting (hamstring) will have MRIs on Tuesday. Eagles S Brian Dawkins strained his foot.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
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