Final

Buccaneers 24

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Vikings 13

(0-1, 0-1 home)

1:00 PM ET, September 11, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 0 17 0 724
MIN 7 0 3 313

Top Performers

Passing: D. Culpepper (MIN) - 233 YDS, 3 INT

Rushing: C. Williams (TB) - 27 CAR, 148 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: J. Galloway (TB) - 5 REC, 97 YDS

Bucs pile up big plays in big road victory

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers figured out how to finish a game, an instinct they've been lacking the past two seasons. That vicious, ball-hawking defense was back in familiar form, too, as Daunte Culpepper and the Minnesota Vikings found out.

The Buccaneers forced five turnovers -- including two interceptions by Brian Kelly -- and pulled out a scrappy season-opening 24-13 victory over the Vikings on Sunday.

It was over when ...
Daunte Culpepper's pass was picked off by Brian Kelly at the Bucs' 6-yard-line with the Vikings trailing by four and 1:53 left on the clock. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams ran the next play from scrimmage 71 yards for a TD, ending the Vikes' comeback hopes.
Game ball goes to ...
"Cadillac" Williams. The Buccaneers' rookie running back had an auspicious debut, rushing for 148 yards on 27 carries. On his 71-yard TD run, he showed big-play ability that could serve the Bucs well in the offense-minded NFC North.
ESPN's take ...
Eric Allen The Vikings sorely missed Randy Moss' big play ability and his talent for stretching defenses to allow the running game to prosper. In the future this offense needs to attack the edges of the defense with Nate Burleson and Troy Williamson and throw some deep balls to force opposing teams to account for the big play. Defensively the revamped Vikings' defense allowed the Buccaneers to flourish despite the Bucs' inability to consistently score last season. They must get better on both sides of the ball or this could be another disappointing season. -- Eric Allen.

"That's the type of thing we can do on defense," Simeon Rice said. "We want to do something special."

Culpepper lost two fumbles and threw three INTs, the second one glancing off Moe Williams' hands and into Kelly's arms at the Tampa Bay 6-yard line with 1:45 left and Minnesota trailing by four.

Tight end Alex Smith caught two touchdown passes and fellow rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams finished with 148 yards on 27 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown run with 1:23 remaining that sealed it.

"I kept telling guys, 'I'm going to break 'em," Williams said.

After winning the Super Bowl in the 2002-03 season, the Bucs went 12-20 over the last two years -- losing 15 of those by one touchdown or less. But finally, the tide turned their way in the fourth quarter.

"If that's an evaluation of what we're capable of doing," coach Jon Gruden said, "that's a good sign."

Coming off a career-best season, Culpepper looked more like a rookie than a three-time Pro Bowl pick. He finished 22-for-33 for 233 yards, failing to throw a TD pass for the first time in 22 games.

The Vikings' only touchdown came from new free safety Darren Sharper on an 88-yard interception return in the first quarter.

"When things could go bad, it went bad," Culpepper said. "It was almost like a bad episode of 'The Twilight Zone."

Whether it was the play calling with new offensive coordinator Steve Loney, the nonexistent running game (16 carries for 26 yards) or steady pressure on Culpepper, the Vikings looked as lousy on offense as they had in some time.

"I didn't like the way we weren't paying attention to detail at the end of the game like I know we can and I know we should," Culpepper said.

Of course standout receiver Randy Moss was missing, too, after the trade that shipped him to Oakland. And while the core of the Bucs' defense -- Rice, Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and Ronde Barber -- are all 30 years or older, it remains one of the league's best.

Barber was asked if it was realistic to expect them to keep Minnesota from scoring an offensive TD.

"To us? Yeah," he said. "Not to anybody outside of our locker room. Regardless of what we did last year, our standards are still high."

At least Minnesota's special teams were working: Rookie Chris Kluwe boomed four punts for an average of 54.3 yards, and new kicker Paul Edinger nailed field goals of 53 and 22 yards.

Trailing 17-13, the Vikings got the ball at their own 10 with 4:11 to go. Using two catches by Nate Burleson and two penalties by the Bucs, they drove 78 yards in a little more than 2 minutes. But Kelly's interception was the end of that.

"We know the weapons they have on offense," Kelly said. "To be able to hold them to not many points, we feel proud about that."

Brian Griese wasn't great, either, but he led Tampa Bay on two long touchdown drives in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead. He finished 18-for-29 for 213 yards with two TDs and two INTs.

Frustrated by several seasons of defensive failure, the Vikings spent plenty of money on upgrades for that side of the ball. The new acquisitions proved their worth in the first half: Sharper had a handful of jarring hits in addition to his touchdown return, cornerback Fred Smoot picked off a pass and nose tackle Pat Williams had a sack.

"There will be some things, believe it or not, when we look at the tape, that will be encouraging," coach Mike Tice said. "Then there will be a lot of things that weren't encouraging."

Most of those came on offense in the first half, when Minnesota's five possessions went like this: turnover, turnover, turnover, three-and-out, three-and-out.

Former Vikings defensive tackle Chris Hovan, who signed with the Bucs this summer, recovered a fumble to end one of those.

"Take the head off the chicken, and it runs around," Hovan said. "The defense has been doing that way before I got here. It's just a staple. You say, 'Tampa,' and you think of defense."

Game notes


Sharper has returned three straight interceptions for touchdowns, the first two for Green Bay last year. ... Joey Galloway caught five passes for 97 yards for Tampa Bay. ... The Vikings released WR Koren Robinson to avoid guaranteeing his full base salary for the season, but they're expected to re-sign him next week. ... Quarles forced two fumbles and had a team-high seven tackles. ... Minnesota's Jermaine Wiggins had a pair of touchdown receptions called back by penalties in the second half.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
MIN
1st Downs1215
Passing 1st downs
89
Rushing 1st downs
42
1st downs from penalties
04
3rd down efficiency
8-175-11
4th down efficiency
0-00-0
Total Plays6251
Total Yards345248
Yards per play5.64.9
Total Drives1411
Passing199215
Comp-Att
18-2922-33
Yards per pass
6.46.0
Interceptions thrown
23
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-143-18
Rushing14633
Rushing Attempts
3115
Yards per rush
4.72.2
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-30-2
Penalties13-999-70
Turnovers25
Fumbles lost
02
Interceptions thrown
23
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession30:3429:26

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Griese18/292137.3222-14
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Culpepper22/332337.1033-18

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams271485.5171
Galloway100.000
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Culpepper3196.3010
Williams6152.509

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Galloway59719.4036
Clayton45714.3041
MINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Burleson34515.0020
Kleinsasser44210.5013

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBMIN
minTD2:58Darren Sharper, 88 yd interception return (Paul Edinger kick is good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 5 yds, 0:05
07
SECOND QUARTERTBMIN
tbTD15:0023 yd pass (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 71 yds, 12:21
77
tbTD4:442 yd pass (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 85 yds, 6:19
147
tbFG0:21Matt Bryant 33 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 46 yds, 2:39
177
THIRD QUARTERTBMIN
minFG4:42Paul Edinger 45 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 34 yds, 6:17
1710
FOURTH QUARTERTBMIN
minFG6:17Paul Edinger 14 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 46 yds, 5:33
1713
tbTD1:34Cadillac Williams, 71 yd run (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yds, 0:11
2413