Bucs-Jets Get Things Started

RB Thomas Jones scores the game's first TD (AP)

At 5:00 Eastern Time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets kicked off the 2003 preseason in Tokyo. If you missed the game, and are planning to watch the replay this evening at 8:00, do not read any further.

On the game's opening drive, the Bucs defense got off to a slow start, allowing the Jets to score on an effective ten play drive capped off by running back LaMont Jordan's one-yard run up the middle. Jets quarterback Brad Pennington was completed all four of his passes on the drive, including a 40-yard bomb to wide receiver Curtis Conway, which was just out of the reach of Bucs safety John Howell. Bucs defensive end Warren Sapp made a great play on the drive, stuffing Jordan in the backfield for a loss of two yards.

The Bucs first drive lasted for eleven plays but ended in a 37 yard Martin Gramatica field goal. Although not a great drive, there were several great plays, including a 22 yard pass from quarterback Brad Johnson to tight end Ken Dilger. Wide receiver Charles Lee looked good, catching a 12 yard pass on the sidelines after Johnson avoided the sack from defensive end Shaun Ellis, and nearly pulled in a 19 yard touchdown, but it was ruled that Lee bobbled the ball, and was called incomplete. Johnson completed four of eight passes for 45 yards.

The Bucs defense stepped up on the next drive, forcing the Jets' Dan Stryzinski to punt. The Bucs drive started on the 20 yard line. Quarterback Shaun King completed three of his first four passes for 45 yards. New Bucs running back Thomas Jones made a great move to rush for 16 yards. Add a 15 yard personal foul on the play, and the Bucs were inside the 10 yard line. A holding penalty moved the Bucs back to the 19. Kicker Ralf Kleinmann matched Gramatica with a 37 yard field goal of his own.

The Bucs defense again stopped the Jets on their next drive. Bucs linebacker Ron Warner made a great play to get into the Jets backfield and stop running back Johnathan Reese for a two yard loss. Stryzinski's punt again was downed in the end zone.

The Bucs next drive was impressive. King threw a pass into a crowd of Jets which was pulled down by wide receiver Reggie Barlow for a 9 yard reception. After completing a 19 yard pass to Charles Lee, King then threw to rookie tight end Will Heller for 11 yards. After the two-minute warning, King then went to fullback Jameel Cook for seven yards and tight end Daniel Wilcox for seven yards. Thomas Jones completed the 12 play drive with a four yard rush up the middle. Kleinmann added the extra point, and the Bucs went into the locker room with a 13-7 lead. King completed 11 of 14 passes for 107 yards in the first half.

Bucs rookie quarterback Chris Simms began the third quarter. Quickly facing a three-and-out, Simms kept his composure to complete a six yard pass to wide receiver Jacquez Green to keep the drive alive. After a five yard penalty gave the Bucs first and fifteen, Simms scrambled for six yards, then completed an eight yard pass to Heller. On fourth down, the Bucs decided to go for it, sending Jones up the middle for a first down. After being sacked by linebacker Victor Hobson, Simms completed a pass to Jones, but was short of the first down. Kleinmann came in for a 48 yard field goal attempt, but was wide right. Simms completed five of six passes for 43 yards in the series.

On the ensuing drive, the Bucs defense again stopped the Jets. Linebackers Jack Golden and Ron Warner ended the Jets chances after stuffing Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger for a 13 yard loss. On the Bucs next drive, Simms completed a deep pass to wide receiver Fabian Davis for 24 yards and scrambled for a 12 yard gain. Two Thomas Jones runs and an eight yard pass to Reggie Barlow got the Bucs inside the Jets' five yard line. Simms was sacked by defensive tackle Matt Walters for a loss of two before completing a four yard pass to Barlow in the end zone for a touchdown. Kleinmann added an extra point to give the Bucs a 20-7 lead.

Kleinmann's kickoff was returned by Ian Smart to the Jets' 38 yard line. After driving into Bucs territory, Bollinger was nailed at midfield by cornerback Tim Wansley who forced the ball loose, scooped it up and returned it 47 yards for the touchdown to extend the Bucs lead to 27-7.

Following the defensive touchdown, it went from bad to worse for the Jets. Kleinmann's squib kick was touched by the Jets' Jonathan Goodwin and booted forward about eleven yards where it was recovered by the Bucs' Idris Price. Three plays later, Simms' pass to Wilcox in the end zone was broken up by cornerback Jamie Henderson and the Bucs had to settle for a 37 yard Kleinmann field goal.

The Bucs defensive didn't let up as Jets went three and out on their next drive, capped off by defensive tackle Cleveland Pinkney's sack of Bollinger for a loss of seven yards.

On the next drive, the Bucs went to the running game to chew up time on the clock. Running back Tony Taylor made some good moves on an eleven yard run. A few plays later, needing just one yard, running back Earnest Graham bulldozed his way past the Jets defensive line to gain eight. Two plays later, however, Graham fumbled, and the Jets' defensive back DeShaun Hill recovered. Six plays later, Bollinger completed an eleven yard pass to tight end Gabriel Reid for a touchdown. After a few rushes by running back Travis Stephens, the Bucs killed the clock and will head home from Tokyo with a 30-14 win.

Rookie quarterback Chris Simms ended the game completing eight of eleven passes for 79 yards. Earnest Gramm led the Bucs ground game with 46 yards on eight carries. Thomas Jones rushed for 45 yards on eleven attempts. Charles Lee led the receivers with 50 yards on four receptions.

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