Final

Buccaneers 22

(4-11, 1-7 away)

Browns 7

(4-11, 2-6 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 24, 2006

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 3 3 6 1022
CLE 0 0 0 77

Top Performers

Passing: T. Rattay (TB) - 212 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: R. Droughns (CLE) - 19 CAR, 92 YDS

Receiving: I. Hilliard (TB) - 4 REC, 67 YDS

Bucs pick off Browns, get first road win in over year

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jon Gruden joked about the day he caught a large perch while fishing on Lake Erie.

On Sunday, he created another memory near its shores.

Derrick Brooks returned one of Tampa Bay's four interceptions 21 yards for a touchdown and the Buccaneers won their first road game in more than a year, 22-7 over the dreadful Cleveland Browns.

The Buccaneers (4-11) had lost eight straight games outside Florida since winning at Carolina on Dec. 11 last season. But they had little trouble with the Browns (4-11), who lost their third straight, managed just 187 yards of offense, had a field goal blocked and were taunted by their own fans.

"We came here in a tough situation -- no road wins," quarterback Tim Rattay said. "But the food will taste a little better on Christmas. This was a good-feeling win."

Cleveland, which finished the season 2-6 at home, avoided being shut out for the second straight year on Dec. 24 when cornerback Daven Holly returned a fumble 40 yards for a TD with 11:33 left.

By then, the Bucs had spoiled the Browns' holiday with their most lopsided win this season.

Michael Pittman, filling in for injured starter Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, had an 11-yard touchdown run and 86 yards, and Jermaine Phillips had two of Tampa Bay's four picks against Derek Anderson.

The win was the 100th in the regular season for Tampa Bay owner Malcolm Glazer, who purchased the club in 1985.

"It's a great feeling to get a win on the road," Gruden said. "It's tough to win in this league."

With Tampa Bay leading 12-0 early in the fourth quarter, Brooks stepped in front of Braylon Edwards to swipe Anderson's pass and returned it for the linebacker's eighth career TD.

"I just the read the quarterback," Brooks said. "We were in a blitz, so I knew he was going to rush it. I just got a good jump on it. Once I caught it, all I had to do was race it home."

On Cleveland's next possession, Phillip Buchanon intercepted Anderson, drawing boos from humiliated Browns fans, some of whom wore paper bags over their heads.

Rattay, making his first start this season, finished 16-of-26 for 212 yards. Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 23, 24 and 37 yards for the Bucs, the NFC's lowest-scoring team.

Anderson, filling in for the third straight week for injured starter Charlie Frye, completed nearly as many passes to Tampa's defense as he did to his receivers, who didn't help him with several drops.

Anderson was only 10-of-27 for 123 yards. He separated his right shoulder in the fourth quarter when he got sacked and was landed on by Chris Hovan. Ken Dorsey came in and was sacked on his first play.

"I made some stupid mistakes," Anderson said. "It's frustrating. We felt good going in, but we never got it going."

One of Cleveland's only positives was running back Reuben Droughns, who gained 92 yards on 19 carries.

Last week, Rattay replaced rookie Bruce Gradkowski against Chicago and rallied the Buccaneers to 28 points in the final 16 minutes of regulation. He didn't have to be nearly as effective this time; the Browns were unable to mount much of a threat and seemed to be a divided team.

Edwards, whose attitude and behavior has irked coach Romeo Crennel, didn't start for undisclosed reasons and finished with two catches for seven yards. He was fined earlier this season when he was late for a team meeting after renting a helicopter and flying to Columbus to watch his alma mater Michigan play Ohio State.

He didn't enter the game until the 6:10 of the second quarter, and promptly dropped a pass over the middle. During the first half, TV cameras also showed Crennel exchanging words with tight end Kellen Winslow on the sideline.

"He was just trying to encourage me," Winslow said. "He's frustrated. We're frustrated."

Crennel refused to divulge his reason for benching Edwards. The team's flagship radio station reported Edwards missed a team meeting.

"That was a coach's decision and that is where I'm leaving it," Crennel said.

Edwards refused to comment following the game.

Game notes


The Buccaneers wouldn't confirm reports that QB Chris Simms has agreed to a two-year contract. Simms, eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, ruptured his spleen on Sept. 24 against Carolina and was lost for the year. ... Browns DE Kamerion Wimbley's two sacks gave him 10, the most by a Cleveland rookie. ... Browns CB Gary Baxter, who has vowed to play again after tearing both patellar tendons, gingerly walked the sideline on crutches before the game then joined his teammates in the locker room.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
CLE
1st Downs2112
Passing 1st downs
98
Rushing 1st downs
114
1st downs from penalties
10
3rd down efficiency
8-174-12
4th down efficiency
1-20-1
Total Plays7351
Total Yards355187
Yards per play4.93.7
Total Drives1211
Passing20296
Comp-Att
16-2610-28
Yards per pass
7.03.1
Interceptions thrown
14
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-103-27
Rushing15391
Rushing Attempts
4420
Yards per rush
3.54.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-60-1
Penalties2-101-15
Turnovers24
Fumbles lost
10
Interceptions thrown
14
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11
Possession37:1622:44

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rattay16/262128.2013-10
CLEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Anderson10/271234.6042-20
Dorsey0/100.0001-7

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pittman16865.4111
Alstott22562.508
CLECARYDSAVGTDLG
Droughns19924.8018
Anderson1-1-1.00-1

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Hilliard46716.8031
Smith44511.3020
CLERECYDSAVGTDLG
Jurevicius45814.5017
Northcutt23115.5025

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBCLE
tbFG7:08Matt Bryant 23 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 75 yds, 6:01
30
SECOND QUARTERTBCLE
tbFG6:22Matt Bryant 24 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 27 yds, 2:13
60
THIRD QUARTERTBCLE
tbTD9:26Michael Pittman, 11 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 74 yds, 5:40
120
FOURTH QUARTERTBCLE
tbTD14:20Derrick Brooks, 21 yd interception return (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 3 yds, 1:03
190
cleTD11:45Daven Holly, 40 yd fumble return (Phil Dawson kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, -7 yds, 1:00
197
tbFG5:52Matt Bryant 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 35 yds, 5:46
227