TAMPA — Maurice Stovall only caught one pass on Sunday. But his impact was felt all over the field.
Stovall had a special teams performance to remember on Sunday, logging two tackles and a key play on punt coverage in Tampa Bay’s 17-10 victory.
Late in the first quarter, Stovall — who is one of the gunners on punt coverage — got downfield on a Josh Bidwell punt and put himself in perfect position to down the 44-yard punt at the Cardinals’ 3-yard line. It was almost as if Stovall read it like an outfielder and was in perfect position for the carom off the ground.
Stovall later delivered a bone rattling hit on Cardinals punt returner Steve Breaston in the fourth quarter. Breaston fielded Bidwell’s punt at the Cardinals 16, and just as he caught it Stovall unloaded with a huge hit that reverberated through the fans at Raymond James Stadium.
“I didn’t really feel it at all when I hit him,” Stovall said. “But afterward I got really excited. It was a huge play at the end of the game. They were only down 7.”
Stovall’s game came after he partially blocked a punt last week against Jacksonville.
“Maurice Stovall had a Pro Bowl day on special teams,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said.
ADAMS’ FIRST START: First-round pick Gaines Adams made his first NFL start on Sunday and finished with one tackle, two quarterback hurries and a pass deflection.
Adams started in place of the injured Greg Spires.
Adams did make a key play late in the contest, shedding a lineman to put a hit on Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner just as he released a pass, causing an incompletion with 9:28 left in the game.
Adams moved around all day, playing some left end in third-down packages. In those cases, Greg White played on the right side.
“Gaines certainly showed us some flashes today,” Gruden said.
GALLOWAY CONTINUES UP CHARTS: Joey Galloway’s touchdown catch in the first quarter was 27th receiving touchdown of his career in Tampa Bay, moving him into a third-place tie with Mark Carrier in team history. It was also his 28th overall touchdown (including one punt return), moving him into sole possession of fifth place in that category. He also moved into the top 10 in all-time scoring among all Buccaneers, passing kicker Steve Christie. Galloway has now scored 168 points in Tampa Bay.
TURNOVER TALK: Bucs FS Tanard Jackson’s interception in the second quarter was the Bucs defense’s first turnover forced since the Tennessee game on Oct. 14.
Jermaine Phillips tossed in an interception late in the game, giving the Bucs a plus-2 in turnover ratio. When the Bucs win the turnover battle, they are 5-0.
TOSSED: Bucs RT Jeremy Trueblood left the game late in the fourth quarter after officials ejected him for illegal touching of an official. Trueblood had a tirade late in the game and tight end Alex Smith had to forcibly put Trueblood on the ground.
“The guy (in front of me) was hacking somebody and I was just going behind the back and I got punched by somebody, so I turned around and went after him,” Trueblood said. “I don’t know what happened. I guess I bumped into a ref. I didn’t see him there. I apologized to him.”
His ejection will not affect Trueblood’s status for the Atlanta game on Nov. 18.
INJURIES: For the Buccaneers, RT Jeremy Trueblood left the game briefly in the third quarter with a shoulder injury but returned. TE Alex Smith left the game after re-aggravating his ankle injury, but returned. For the Cardinals, FS Aaron Francisco left the game in the second quarter with a right knee strain. LB Calvin Pace left the game with an unspecified injury in the fourth quarter.
INACTIVES: Players designated as inactive for Sunday’s game were: Tampa Bay — QB Luke McCown (third QB), RB Michael Pittman, LB Jeremiah Trotter, DE Patrick Chukwurah, LB Quincy Black, G Dan Buenning, WR Michael Clayton, DE Greg Spires. Arizona — QB Tim Hasselbeck (third QB), SS Oliver Celestin, FB Tim Castille, LB Karlos Dansby, DE Joe Tafoya, G Keydrick Vincent, TE Ben Patrick, DT Ross Kolodziej.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.