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Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Bucs rebound from loss to dominate Falcons 31-10

SportsLine.com wire reports

ATLANTA -- Warren Sapp needs to work on his dance moves. Beyonce, he's not.

That's OK. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are having fun again.

Sapp, the 303-pound defensive tackle, scored the first offensive touchdown of his career on a 6-yard pass and the defending Super Bowl champions bounced back from an embarrassing defeat, routing the Atlanta Falcons 31-10 on Sunday.

After scoring, Sapp cradled the ball in his arms as he hopped and twirled in a giddy circle. He claimed to have borrowed the move from Beyonce Knowles' "Crazy In Love" video, though it was a bit difficult to pick up any resemblance.

"I didn't do it quite like she does," Sapp conceded. "She's got more assets than me."

The Bucs (2-1) were clearly perturbed by the way they lost to Carolina a week earlier, getting two field goals and an extra point blocked before falling 12-9 in overtime. Tampa Bay took out its frustration on the hapless Falcons (1-2), who failed for the second week in a row to give Dan Reeves his 200th coaching victory.

"We felt like we let the team down last week, so we wanted to bounce back," said safety Dwight Smith, who had two of the three interceptions thrown by Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson.

Michael Vick watched from the sideline, but it's highly doubtful the injured Atlanta quarterback would have made much of a difference against a Tampa Bay defense that wasn't going to let this one get away.

On the other hand, he couldn't have looked any worse. Johnson was hesitant and unsure of what the defense was doing, often double- and triple-pumping before releasing the ball. The result was three ugly interceptions -- two thrown right to Smith, the other to John Lynch.

The Falcons managed just 29 yards on the ground. Warrick Dunn was the rushing leader -- if you can call it that -- with 7 yards on nine carries.

"You can't say that Mike not being here is the reason we're losing games," said Dunn, who formerly played with the Bucs. "Doug has got to get better. The running game has to get better. We can't blame this on Mike not being here. People are getting tired of hearing that."

Atlanta's frustration boiled over when Johnson was sacked by Nate Webster with about 10 minutes left. Johnson shoved Webster away and center Todd McClure got involved, sparking a brief scuffle.

Sapp jumped in to pull teammate Ellis Wyms away, and those two began jawing at each other on their way back to the sideline. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had to step between them.

Maybe the Bucs were just getting bored -- the Falcons sure didn't put up any fight.

"I was just telling him to get off the field," Sapp said. "This game is over, get off the field."

Tampa Bay began to take control early in the second quarter. After setting up the Falcons with a short pass, Brad Johnson found running back Michael Pittman all alone behind linebacker Keith Brooking, the two hooking up for a 68-yard touchdown.

That was the longest play against the Falcons since Brad Johnson connected with Keyshawn Johnson on a 76-yard touchdown in a victory over Atlanta last season.

Then, Smith made the first of his interceptions, giving the ball back to Tampa Bay at the Atlanta 37. The Bucs drove to the 6, where Sapp entered -- supposedly to provide another blocker. Instead, he slipped off the line and found himself wide open in the end zone, hauling in the touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 17-3 lead at the break.

Naturally, the Falcons didn't enjoy Sapp's end zone dance.

"It made me sick to my stomach," Patrick Kerney said.

The only sour point for the Bucs: They gave up a touchdown for the first time this season, but it really wasn't the defense's fault. Thomas Jones lost a fumble that Atlanta's Sam Rogers scooped up and returned to the Tampa Bay 2 early in the third quarter.

The Bucs stuffed the first two runs before the Falcons sent in Woodrow Dantzler at quarterback. He scored on a 1-yard run around right end, but that was the Falcons' last hurrah.

Tampa Bay promptly drove 73 yards in 10 plays, with Mike Alstott scoring on a 2-yard run. Brian Kozlowski fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Bucs recovered and Alstott wound up scoring his second TD in less than three minutes on a 1-yard plunge.

There was still more than a quarter remaining, but many fans at the sold-out Georgia Dome headed for the exits. Those who hung around cheered loudly when Kurt Kittner took over for Johnson early in the fourth.

"You can't turn the ball over three times in a half and expect to win the game," Johnson said. "That's on my shoulders."


  • Dunn has played two games against his former team since signing with the Falcons. The results aren't pretty: 18 carries for 21 yards.
  • With a comfortable lead, the Bucs ran the ball 37 times for a season-high 132 yards. Pittman had 20 carries for 82 yards.
  • Atlanta's Peerless Price had six catches, more than his total in the first two games combined.
  • The final ratings for Atlanta's quarterbacks -- Johnson was 40.4 and Kittner, who also had an interception, was 14.6.
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Derrick Brooks celebrates Warren Sapp's TD catch; yes, that's right -- TD catch.
Derrick Brooks celebrates Warren Sapp's TD catch; yes, that's right -- TD catch. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
FGMartin Gramatica 24 Yd, 6:19. Drive: 8 plays, 50 yards in 4:38.
FGJay Feely 29 Yd, 10:32. Drive: 4 plays, 38 yards in 2:24.
TDMichael Pittman, 68 Yd pass from Brad Johnson (Martin Gramatica kick is good), 9:02. Drive: 3 plays, 81 yards in 1:30.
TDWarren Sapp, 6 Yd pass from Brad Johnson (Martin Gramatica kick is good), 1:55. Drive: 7 plays, 37 yards in 2:56.
TDWoody Dantzler, 1 Yd run (Jay Feely kick is good), 10:13. Drive: 3 plays, 2 yards in 1:21.
TDMike Alstott, 2 Yd run (Martin Gramatica kick is good), 4:20. Drive: 10 plays, 73 yards in 5:53.
TDMike Alstott, 1 Yd run (Martin Gramatica kick is good), 1:39. Drive: 5 plays, 40 yards in 2:33.
Tampa Bay
B. Johnson16/2419220
S. King0/0000
M. Pittman2082016
M. Alstott844229
A. Stecker4903
K. Williams1202
T. Jones1-10-1
B. Johnson3-40-1
M. Pittman782168
K. McCardell441017
K. Johnson225015
K. Dilger124024
K. Williams114014
W. Sapp1616
D. Johnson13/199503
K. Kittner5/123201
W. Dunn9704
W. Dantzler36112
T. Duckett3603
J. Griffith3605
D. Johnson1404
P. Price645011
A. Crumpler331021
W. Dunn420011
B. Kozlowski214011
T. Duckett21308
J. Farris1404
Complete Player Stats