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Tampa Bay 'D' picks off Johnson three times

9/22/2003

ATLANTA (AP) -- Warren Sapp needs to work on his dance moves.
Beyonce, he's not.

That's OK. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are having fun again.

Question on the Bucs: With Jurevicius out, is Warren Sapp their best playmaker on offense?
This is Sapp's contract year, so he's liable to run-block, catch passes, kick field goals … whatever it takes. But this was a big win for the Bucs after a weird loss last week. Who knows, maybe if Sapp had tried an extra point or field goal last week, they might have won that game also.

Question on the Falcons: Even with Vick out, wasn't this offense supposed to be good?
A lot of what Vick does is totally unscripted and they're things that Doug Johnson can't do. It's not that this offense is that bad, it's that they're missing the escapability factor from their quarterback.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Sapp, the 303-pound defensive tackle, scored the first offensive
touchdown of his career on a 6-yard pass and the defending Super
Bowl champions bounced back from an embarrassing defeat, routing
the Atlanta Falcons 31-10 on Sunday.

After scoring, Sapp cradled the ball in his arms as he hopped
and twirled in a giddy circle. He claimed to have borrowed the move
from Beyonce Knowles' "Crazy In Love" video, though it was a bit
difficult to pick up any resemblance.

"I didn't do it quite like she does," Sapp conceded. "She's
got more assets than me."

The Bucs (2-1) were clearly perturbed by the way they lost to
Carolina a week earlier, getting two field goals and an extra point
blocked before falling 12-9 in overtime. Tampa Bay took out its
frustration on the hapless Falcons (1-2), who failed for the second
week in a row to give Dan Reeves his 200th coaching victory.

"We felt like we let the team down last week, so we wanted to
bounce back," said safety Dwight Smith, who had two of the three
interceptions thrown by Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson.

Michael Vick watched from the sideline, but it's highly doubtful
the injured Atlanta quarterback would have made much of a
difference against a Tampa Bay defense that wasn't going to let
this one get away.

On the other hand, he couldn't have looked any worse. Johnson
was hesitant and unsure of what the defense was doing, often
double- and triple-pumping before releasing the ball. The result
was three ugly interceptions -- two thrown right to Smith, the other
to John Lynch.

The Falcons managed just 29 yards on the ground. Warrick Dunn
was the rushing leader -- if you can call it that -- with 7 yards on
nine carries.

"You can't say that Mike not being here is the reason we're
losing games," said Dunn, who formerly played with the Bucs.
"Doug has got to get better. The running game has to get better.
We can't blame this on Mike not being here. People are getting
tired of hearing that."

Atlanta's frustration boiled over when Johnson was sacked by
Nate Webster with about 10 minutes left. Johnson shoved Webster
away and center Todd McClure got involved, sparking a brief
scuffle.

Sapp jumped in to pull teammate Ellis Wyms away, and those two
began jawing at each other on their way back to the sideline.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had to step between them.

Maybe the Bucs were just getting bored -- the Falcons sure didn't
put up any fight.

"I was just telling him to get off the field," Sapp said.
"This game is over, get off the field."

Tampa Bay began to take control early in the second quarter.
After setting up the Falcons with a short pass, Brad Johnson found
running back Michael Pittman all alone behind linebacker Keith
Brooking, the two hooking up for a 68-yard touchdown.

That was the longest play against the Falcons since Brad Johnson
connected with Keyshawn Johnson on a 76-yard touchdown in a victory
over Atlanta last season.

Then, Smith made the first of his interceptions, giving the ball
back to Tampa Bay at the Atlanta 37. The Bucs drove to the 6, where
Sapp entered -- supposedly to provide another blocker. Instead, he
slipped off the line and found himself wide open in the end zone,
hauling in the touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 17-3 lead at the
break.

Naturally, the Falcons didn't enjoy Sapp's end zone dance.

"It made me sick to my stomach," Patrick Kerney said.

The only sour point for the Bucs: They gave up a touchdown for
the first time this season, but it really wasn't the defense's
fault. Thomas Jones lost a fumble that Atlanta's Sam Rogers scooped
up and returned to the Tampa Bay 2 early in the third quarter.

The Bucs stuffed the first two runs before the Falcons sent in
Woodrow Dantzler at quarterback. He scored on a 1-yard run around
right end, but that was the Falcons' last hurrah.

Tampa Bay promptly drove 73 yards in 10 plays, with Mike Alstott
scoring on a 2-yard run. Brian Kozlowski fumbled the ensuing
kickoff, the Bucs recovered and Alstott wound up scoring his second
TD in less than three minutes on a 1-yard plunge.

There was still more than a quarter remaining, but many fans at
the sold-out Georgia Dome headed for the exits. Those who hung
around cheered loudly when Kurt Kittner took over for Johnson early
in the fourth.

"You can't turn the ball over three times in a half and expect
to win the game," Johnson said. "That's on my shoulders."

Notes: Dunn has played two games against his former team since
signing with the Falcons. The results aren't pretty: 18 carries for
21 yards. ... With a comfortable lead, the Bucs ran the ball 37
times for a season-high 132 yards. Pittman had 20 carries for 82
yards. ... Atlanta's Peerless Price had six catches, more than his
total in the first two games combined. ... The final ratings for
Atlanta's quarterbacks -- Johnson was 40.4 and Kittner, who also had
an interception, was 14.6.