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Bucs Were Spooked During Wicked Loss


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Bucs Were Spooked During Wicked Loss


Published: Oct 31, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - On Halloween Eve, at a place renamed Monster Park.

There's no disguising this horror show.

And off a bye week.

It turns out that bye-bye Simeon Rice, unmasked and turned away at the door by Jon Gruden after missing a meeting Saturday, had the best seat for this game: a sealed tube traveling at 35,000 feet in the opposite direction of an unmitigated nightmare.

Throw a sheet over 12-4; 8-8 has risen from the dead.

Could a single loss have been more wicked? Could the new starting quarterback, Chris Simms, have scared us more? And it wasn't all his fault. Not even close. This was a team effort -- a team not ready to beat a team waiting to be beaten.


The final score was Nedney 15, Bucs 10. Joe Nedney is the San Francisco 49ers kicker. The Bucs kicked themselves all the way back to Tampa. On the way out, Gruden was asked if anyone was hurt in the game.

"You're looking at him," Gruden said.

All The Illusions Are Gone

To understand how bad this was, understand how bad the 49ers are.

It goes beyond them being 1-5 before Sunday and the Bucs being 5-1. The 49ers were ranked next-to-last in NFL offense and last in defense. The 49ers gave up 52 points last week to Washington, which was shut out by the Giants on Sunday. Until Sunday, the 49ers were on pace to allow the most points and yards in the 86 years of NFL history.

The Bucs lost to them.

You must understand that the drive that led to San Francisco's winning points traveled 7 yards. And that Ken Dorsey started at quarterback for San Francisco, and after he was injured, was replaced by Cody Pickett.

Cody Pickett.

So the illusions are gone.

The Bucs are in a mad scramble, with nothing certain, with the Panthers next week, with the meat of the schedule ahead. The race is on. The heat is, too.

Not even the return of Cadillac Williams (13 carries, 20 yards) mattered. Not even the defense mattered.

Simms? He mattered, to the tune of three turnovers and happy feet after a few hits. It looked as if he, not Pickett, was taking his first NFL snaps. He made the injured Brian Griese, father of 5-1, look like league MVP.

Rice would not have mattered Sunday, and it's apparent that nothing he ever says will matter again at One Buc. Rice-a-phony, the San Francisco treat. Sim, if you recall, is the cat who talked about a lack of discipline on last year's 5-11 team, and how there was no accountability.

Way to walk the walk, Sim.

But Sunday wasn't about him. It was about an offense that couldn't crawl. It was about an opportunity any team with a real sense of mission seizes.

And the hilarious part is the Bucs had insider information, having just acquired Niners quarterback Tim Rattay, with his vast knowledge of the Niners' offense and defense. Boy, if it hadn't been for that, the Bucs might have been in trouble.

Simms Needs To Learn In A Hurry

Simms is a great kid. Period. Griese lost a game like this in New York this season. But aside from a nicely thrown ball on an inside hitch that Joey Galloway turned into a 78-yard touchdown, the offense did nothing.

"He's going to learn from this," Gruden said. "There's things he's got to learn from in a hurry, because Carolina will have no mercy next week."

Think Gruden will?

The loss of Rice didn't matter. The loss of Griese looms. Simms' two picks set up San Francisco field goals, and he took crucial sacks. But he got no help from his line, which looked like the putrid one we expected before the season, or his running backs. Read: Caddy doesn't look quite right. Gulp.

Simms and his teammates remained optimistic. A 5-2 record will do that.

"We'll find out next week," Galloway said. "We've got Carolina next week. ... That's when our season starts."

"Last time we were 5-2, I think we won the Super Bowl," Derrick Brooks said.


The captain made one good point. The Bucs lost a miserable game to the Jets, then bounced back to beat Miami. What if they beat the Panthers on Sunday? Yes, they can win five more games. But Sunday clearly showed they could lose five more, or even six.


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