<
>

Bucs' defense allows 28 2nd-half points

10/8/2003

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Mike Vanderjagt's 29-yard field goal with 3:47 remaining in overtime capped one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history and gave the Indianapolis Colts a 38-35 victory over
the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

Peyton Manning rallied the Colts from a 35-14 deficit with four minutes left in regulation, sending the game into overtime on Ricky Williams' 1-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds to play. Marvin Harrison, who had two touchdown catches, set up the tying score with a 52-yard reception to the Tampa Bay 5.

Manning realized the difficulty of his task.

"Twenty-one-nothing in here at Tampa on Monday night is not an
ideal situation," he said. "What a game, what a win."

Harrison scored on second-half receptions of 37 and 28 yards,
the latter trimming Tampa Bay's lead to 35-28 with 2:29 remaining
in regulation.

Indianapolis (5-0) became the first team in NFL history to win
after trailing by 21 or more points with less than four minutes to
play in regulation.

Vanderjagt had missed a potential game-winning field goal from
39 yards wide right a play earlier -- it would have been his first
miss of the season in 13 attempts -- but Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice was called for leaping and landing on a teammate and the Colts got another chance.

Vanderjagt made the second kick, barely, as it went off the right
upright and through after being deflected at the line by a Tampa
Bay player, and coach Tony Dungy had the win on his return to
Tampa.

Dungy was as surprised as Manning to score so many points
against one of the best defenses in the league, maybe in history.

"I didn't think 35 points in a half, no," he said.

At halftime, he told his team how poorly it had performed.

"I told them that was the most disappointed I've been in our
team," Dungy said. "We just didn't play our game."

Manning launched the game-winning drive from his own 13. He had
crucial third-down completions of 8 yards to Harrison, 16 yards to
Reggie Wayne and 9 yards to Troy Walters to keep the march alive.

Harrison's 37-yard TD catch put the Colts, who trailed 21-0 at
halftime, on the scoreboard early in the third quarter. He finished
with 11 catches for 176 yards.

"A lot of those plays, I tip my hat to Manning," Bucs coach
Jon Gruden said. "He made some miraculous throws, and they made
some incredible catches."

Williams, part of a committee of running backs filling in for
the injured Edgerrin James, had a 1-yard TD run three minutes into the fourth quarter. James Mungro scored on a 3-yard run for the Colts with 3:37 remaining, the touchdown that started the comeback.

A week after throwing for 314 yards and six touchdowns in the
Colts' 55-21 rout of New Orleans , Manning was 34-of-47 for 386
yards, two touchdowns and one interception, which Ronde Barber returned 29 yards to give Tampa Bay a 35-14 lead with just over five minutes left in regulation.

Keenan McCardell caught two touchdown passes and scooped up an Indianapolis fumble and returned it 57 yards for another score for Tampa Bay (2-2), which looked like it would ruin Dungy's homecoming when it took the big halftime lead.

Dungy received a polite ovation from a crowd of 65,647 that
likely included a generous number of fans who no doubt were not the
least bit upset when he was fired in January 2002 after six
successful seasons in Tampa Bay.

He's the winningest coach in franchise history, going 54-42 from
1996-2001 while turning around a club that had 14 straight losing
seasons. But an anemic offense and consecutive first-round playoff losses cost him his job.

Dungy left behind one of the league's best defenses, a unit that
was the driving force in last year's Super Bowl run under Dungy's
successor Jon Gruden, whose improvements on offense helped get the
Bucs over the hump.

McCardell caught TD passes of 74 and 15 yards from Brad Johnson. He was in the right place at the right time when safety Mike Doss fumbled after intercepting a poorly thrown Brad Johnson pass and returned it 16 yards to the Tampa Bay 43.

Dungy led the Bucs to the playoffs four times in six seasons and
is the architect of the Cover 2 defensive scheme that's been
instrumental to Tampa Bay's success.

Although defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has tweaked some of
the things the Bucs do, it was Dungy who developed the heart of the
unit -- Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch -- into perennial
Pro Bowl selections who make the system work.

"From my standpoint, I kind of understand now about Venus and
Serena Williams when they say that there's never not that much joy
in it," Dungy said. "I'm just extremely happy, but when you fight
against guys that you've gone to war with, it was really tough out
there."

McCardell is one of the players Gruden brought in to improve Tampa Bay's offense a year ago.

On his long touchdown reception, the 12th-year veteran slanted to
the middle of the field and found himself with a mismatch against
Colts middle linebacker Rob Morris, who stumbled near midfield when McCardell accelerated to run under Johnson's pass at the
Indianapolis 30.

Johnson's 3-yard pass to Reggie Barlow put the Bucs up three touchdowns early in the second quarter and freed the Bucs defense to unleash an all-out pass rush on Manning, who did a good job of getting rid of the ball and only sacked once.

Johnson finished 26-of-39 for 318 yards. Michael Pittman rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries, while McCardell had four receptions for 106 yards for Tampa Bay, which played in overtime without Keyshawn Johnson (leg bruise) and Pittman (cramps).

The Colts, off to their best start since 1977, are one of four
unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL. The others are Kansas City,
Minnesota and Carolina, which visits Indianapolis next Sunday.

Comments

ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • Nike Youth Home Game Jersey Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck #12Shop

  • New Era Men's Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sideline 2014 39Thirty Red Flex Fit HatPrice: $24.99 Shop

NFL News