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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.