Johnson Woeful, Superb
``The Bull'' broke some china Saturday, then did his best to clean up the mess. Tampa Bay's game against Atlanta was a tale of two Brad Johnsons - the first half and the second half. Johnson tied a career-high with four interceptions in the first half, then helped the Bucs rally to nearly tie the game at the end. ``Unfortunately, that was about the worst four plays as you can get,'' said Johnson, who also threw four interceptions against Philadelphia in a 2001 playoff loss. ``Other than that, it was some very good football. The second half, that was about as good of football as you can get.''
Johnson threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns, and his season-high 346 passing yards brought his total to 3,715, which surpassed Doug Williams' record of 3,563 yards in 1981.
Still, it was Johnson's mistakes that proved to be the difference in the game. One interception was returned for a touchdown, and the Falcons scored two touchdowns and a field goal off the other three. Johnson said the throw on the first pick slipped out of his hands and that he was attempting to throw the ball away when Atlanta CB Juran Bolden intercepted and returned it for a touchdown. As for the others, Johnson said he ``can't remember.'' That's part of playing the quarterback position and playing in the NFL,'' Johnson said. ``You've got to be consistent, and those four plays hurt us.''
After Johnson's fourth interception, Jon Gruden had a long talk with his quarterback on the sideline. Even though Shaun King warmed up at halftime, Gruden stuck with ``The Bull.'' ``That was one of the great gut checks I've witnessed at that position working with the quarterbacks for a long time,'' Gruden said.
Home not so sweet home
Tampa Bay closed the home schedule at Raymond James Stadium the way it opened it - with a loss. For the first time since the stadium opened in 1998, the Bucs finished with a losing record at home (3-5). So much for homefield advantage. It was the worst showing at Raymond James Stadium since the 2001 season, when the Bucs were 5-3. Tampa Bay's best home showing was in 1999 (7-1). In 1998, 2000 and 2002, the Bucs were 6-2. Players said there were several reasons for their poor home play. ``Turnovers and penalties, those were the killers,'' RG Cosey Coleman said. ``Effort has never been an issue. Everyone's been out there giving it everything that they've got. We just found ways to shoot ourselves in the foot and not get it done at home.''
The recovery by S Dwight Smith of an onside kick late in the fourth quarter was Tampa Bay’s first successful onside kick in over 11 years. The last one was on September 27, 1992, when LB Darrick Brownlow recovered for the Bucs at Detroit.
Greg Spires left the game momentarily in the second quarter with a left shoulder bruise. He was replaced by rookie DE Dewayne White but later re turned. RT Kenyatta Walker sprained his right ankle but remained in the game.
Ronde Barber's five tackles gave him 105 for the season, a single-season team record for a cornerback. Jeris White held the record of 103, set in 1978.
For the third time this season, the Bucs defense did not have a sack.
Quote of the day
``We don't have a seat reserved at the playoff table. We missed our dinner reservations.'' - Ronde Barber