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Volume 68, Issue 62, Wednesday, November 20, 2002


Gruden can take Bucs to Super Bowl

The Longest Yard

Stuart H. Clements

I'm convinced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win the Super Bowl. Head coach Jon Gruden did great things with the Oakland Raiders, but he's really made the Bucs shine.

The Bucs rank No. 1 in the NFC South with an 8-2 record.

What makes this team so strong? The Tampa Bay defense Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp to be specific may have something to do with the team's success.

On offense, the Bucs are efficient. They don't have the most talented offense, but as a unit, they get the job done. Quarterback Brad Johnson (certainly no future hall-of-famer like Drew Bledsoe) doesn't get fancy he gets points.

Johnson was barely over .500 on passing Sunday against the Carolina Panthers (3-7). He went 22-of-40 with 253 yards and two touchdown passes. Not stellar, but good enough to win.

The Bucs only have two things standing in their way. First, the Bucs need to avoid playing down to their competition. As they head into the end of the regular season, Tampa needs to stay strong on its game to be prepared for playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers could prove to be formidable, and Sunday's showdown will be the game to see. The Packers are the only other team hanging with the Bucs at 8-2 for the season.

Green Bay is a team with noted talent on the offense, and possibly the best quarterback currently playing the game Brett Favre. It'll be a rough hard-hitting football game, but in the end, I think the Bucs will prevail. We'll see them go deep into the postseason, if not all the way.

Bears get rammed

Monday Night Football served further proof that, with Marc Bulger at the helm as quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, the team can't lose. Rams star quarterback Kurt Warner had to sit out because of a broken finger after starting the season 0-4.

Since then, Bulger took over, and has taken the team to the .500 mark, going 5-1.

But Bulger may have seen his last start of the season. A finger injury during Monday night's 21-16 "ramming" of the Chicago Bears this week returned him to the bench.

The injury occurred, however, after Bulger threw 21-of-35 for 347 yards and two touchdown passes. Warner got to play the last series, going 1-of-2 for 13 yards.

Needless to say, Bulger's been a teensy bit underrated the last few years, and after his showing this season, people will be knocking on his door. I wonder if the Dallas Cowboys could get him to commit. Lord knows they need a quarterback.

The fate of the Rams is still in peril. The team has six games left. If St. Louis can pull off four more victories, chances are, we'll see them in the postseason, and after starting 0-5 no less.

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