TAMPA, Fla. -- The preseason won't end soon enough for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
|Mark Brunell has a game he'll want to forget against the Buccaneers.(AP)|
The Super Bowl champions started training camp a week early and have already played four preseason games, including the American Bowl in Tokyo. They conclude their exhibition schedule against Houston on Thursday night.
Thomas Jones scored on a 4-yard touchdown run and Martin Gramatica returned from a two-week layoff to kick a 24-yard field goal for Tampa Bay (3-1), which also finished with 12 penalties for 119 yards.
The mistakes didn't sit well with Gruden, especially coming on the heels of being penalized 12 times for 124 yards in a loss at St. Louis last Monday.
"When you play three quarterbacks and you play 80 guys, there is an opportunity maybe for more error," Gruden said. "But some of the fouls tonight -- let's be honest -- they're ridiculous and totally out of character of a good football team."
Tampa Bay's defense rebounded from a sub-par effort against St. Louis to limit the Jaguars to 193 yards and a pair of field goals by Seth Marler, who converted from 35 and 55 yards in the first half.
Jones put the Bucs ahead with 2:16 left in the third quarter, scoring three plays after Tim Wansley's 10-yard punt return and a 15-yard facemask penalty gave Tampa Bay the ball at the Jacksonville 20.
Gramatica, who sat out two of Tampa Bay's first three preseason games with a sore groin, kicked his field goal in the second quarter.
In addition to hurting themselves with penalties, the Bucs turned the ball over twice in the first nine minutes, setting up a Jaguars field goal with one and denying themselves a scoring opportunity with the other.
Marler kicked his first field goal four plays after Kiwaukee Thomas intercepted Brad Johnson's pass and returned it 19 yards to the Tampa Bay 21. Five minutes later, Johnson was intercepted again -- this time by Donovin Darius, who made the pick in the end zone after the Bucs marched from their own 14 to the Jaguars 2.
Mark Brunell played a half at quarterback for Jacksonville, completing 7 of 18 passes for 75 yards. The Jaguars were limited to 26 yards on three possessions before Brunell finished his stint with a 51-yard march against Tampa Bay's No. 1 defense.
Even then, the Jaguars had to settle for Marler's 55-yard field goal for a 6-3 halftime lead.
"Overall, it was disappointing," said Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio. "We had opportunities. Whenever we did something positive, we followed it with a negative."
David Garrard led Jacksonville's offense for most of the second half. Rookie Byron Leftwich, who made his debut in a win over Miami last week, entered the game late in the fourth quarter and directed the Jaguars' last drive.
The Jaguars weren't much more successful against Tampa Bay's reserves, failing to make a first down after Bucs receiver Karl Williams lost a fumble at his own 25 early in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay stopped the possession on downs at the Bucs' 20, then thwarted a potential game-winning drive when Devone Claybrooks recovered Garrard's fumble at the Bucs 28 with just under five minutes to go.
Garrard was 6-of-11 passing for 68 yards and was sacked twice. Leftwich was 3-of-5 for 22 yards and was sacked once.
"I'm right where I want to be with learning everything," said Leftwich. "We did a great job moving the ball. We just had a few mistakes."
The Jaguars played without receiver Jimmy Smith, who is serving a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Matthew Hatchette had two catches for 54 yards in his absence.
"Jimmy being out is tough, but I just need to make the most of my opportunity," Hatchette said.
All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp sat out the game with a sore toe, and Tampa Bay lost defensive end Ellis Wyms to a left ankle sprain and tight end Ken Dilger to a shoulder stinger in the first quarter.
Jacksonville tight end Kyle Brady left the game in the first quarter with a concussion.
"I feel a lot better," said Brady, who was hurt on the opening kickoff.
The Associated Press News Service
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