"I knew I scored," said Clayton, whose 8-yard touchdown
reception with 35 seconds remaining gave the previously winless
Bucs a 14-13 victory over the fuming Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"It was our time," he added. "This team has been through so
Clayton's TD -- his first in 19 games -- was ruled an incomplete
pass before the call was overturned by replay, which showed the
receiver had control of the ball when he extended his arms.
The Bengals (3-2) thought they had won when Clayton put the nose
of the ball over the goal line on the fourth-down play only to have
it knocked loose when he landed on the ground. Referee Mike Carey
reversed the call, setting off a wild celebration on the home
"We know it's only one win and this is not the NFC
championship," Bucs defensive tackle Anthony McFarland said. "But
we've got to start somewhere, and we start with this."
The winning TD capped a roller-coaster performance for rookie
quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, making his second start for Tampa Bay
in place of the injured Chris Simms. The sixth-round draft pick
also threw a 2-yard TD pass to Alex Smith, but spent much of the
day looking like the inexperienced player he is.
Carson Palmer threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to T.J.
Houshmandzadeh and Shayne Graham kicked two field goals for
Cincinnati. The Bengals marched into Bucs territory in the closing
seconds, but Graham's 62-yard field goal attempt as time expired
was short and off the mark.
The Bucs (1-4) avoided their first 0-5 start since 1996 and
snapped Cincinnati's 8-game winning streak against NFC opponents.
Gradkowski completed 25 of 44 passes for 184 yards and one
interception. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams rushed for 94 yards on
19 carries, including a 38-yard burst that set up Tampa Bay's first
touchdown in the third quarter.
The Bucs drove 54 yards in nine plays after a punt for the
winning score. Gradkowski had a 15-yard completion to Clayton, as
well as a pair of 10-yarders to Michael Pittman. But the key to the
march -- as far as the Bengals were concerned -- was the
roughing-the-passer call that wiped out a fumble on a sack by
Bengals defensive end Justin Smith.
"I don't think I've ever seen a roughing-the-passer on a
sack," Palmer said. "We all need to go see the film on that."
Instead facing second-and-18 from the 40, the Bucs continued the
decisive drive with a first down at the Cincinnati 25.
"I couldn't believe it. That was the ballgame," Smith said.
"I didn't slam him or anything like that. He just doubled over and
fumbled the ball. ... It's pretty hard to do anything to him if you
can't touch him."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis thought the call was curious, too.
"I guess you've got to cuddle him to the ground," Lewis said.
Despite averaging nearly 25 points in their first four games,
the Bengals entered their bye week following a lopsided loss to New
England concerned about a lack of consistency on offense. Palmer's
production is down, Cincinnati has not been able to get Chad
Johnson into the end zone as much as usual and injuries on the
offensive line have affected pass protection and the running game.
The Bengals, who had one of the NFL's most prolific offenses a
year ago, were held to one touchdown and 13 points for the second
"We're not throwing the ball like we did last year. We're not
running the ball like we did last year," Houshmandzadeh said. "If
you can't do at least one or the other, we're in trouble. ... We're
just not putting up points. Bottom line."
Palmer was 24-of-37 for 261 yards, no interceptions and two
sacks. Houshmandzadeh caught his TD pass over All-Pro cornerback
Ronde Barber in the second quarter and finished with 10 receptions
for 102 yards.
With receiver Chris Henry beginning a two-game suspension for
violating NFL policies on conduct and substance abuse, Johnson
responded for the Bengals with six catches for 99 yards, including
a 51-yarder -- his longest reception of the year -- to set up a
47-yard field goal for a 13-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals lost to a NFC opponent for the first time since
Dec. 21, 2003 -- a 27-10 setback at St. Louis. ... Johnson became
the fourth Bengal with 400 career receptions, joining Carl Pickens,
Cris Collinsworth and Isaac Curtis. ... DT/DE Ellis Wyms had both
of Tampa Bay's sacks.
High-ranking Washington Redskins front-office officials and coaches want to part ways with quarterback Robert Griffin III, but are meeting resistance from team ownership, according to sources.
The Packers believe Randall Cobb has a good chance to be ready for the regular-season opener, a source said Sunday after Cobb underwent tests on his injured right shoulder.
It was fitting that the Saints hosted a game on the day after the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which the team commemorated with messages before a preseason game with the Texans.
Seahawks defensive lineman Frank Clark angered multiple offensive linemen on the Chargers, who accused the rookie of trying to attack San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers while under a pile.
Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett, now officially the Texans' backup quarterback, spoke on Sunday for the first time since missing practice last week.
The Bears have announced the release of veteran cornerback Tim Jennings.