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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Video: Now, THIS is a man cave

Every Bucs fan should have one of these in their backyard.


Every Bucs fan should have one of these in their backyard.

One lucky Bucs fan got a living room makeover, complete with a pirate ship -- and a visit from Warren Sapp -- thanks to a Bud Light advertising campaign.

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Glennon won game not starting QB job -- for now

Lovie Smith was non-committal in his choice of quarterbacks despite Mike Glennon's last-second heroics in a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh.

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Lovie Smith was non-committal in his choice of quarterbacks despite Mike Glennon's last-second heroics in a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh.

Quarterback Mike Glennon posted the first victory of the season for the Bucs Sunday, but he hasn't won the starting quarterback job.

Not yet, anyway.

With Josh McCown still out with a ligament tear in his right thumb and his status unknown for Sunday's game at New Orleans, coach Lovie Smith was non-committal in his choice of quarterbacks despite Glennon's last-second heroics in a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh.

"You asking me to name out starting quarterback right now? What I do is I look at who's available at the time and who gives us our best chance to win at all positions,'' Smith said. "We'll do the same thing when Josh gets back. He's not back yet, though.

Perhaps, but Glennon has a pretty good case after passing for 302 yards …

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Bucs' 27-24 win over Steelers ignited by Glennon, Murphy

PITTSBURGH – A week ago, quarterback Mike Glennon got a text message from exiled receiver Louis Murphy, who was released by the Bucs a day before the regular season opener against Carolina. The exchange didn’t last very long.

That’s odd, because Murphy always talks about the Bucs. The former Gators and Lakewood High School star grew up rooting for his hometown NFL team. “A local guy who loves the Buccaneers,’’ coach Lovie Smith describes him. “He would do anything.’’

So last Tuesday, hoping to get a spark for the league’s 30th-ranked offense, Smith re-signed Murphy. “I was so thankful to get that call,’’ Murphy said. “I just didn’t want to let those guys down.’’

Murphy’s connection with Glennon proved to be even stronger on the field than off it Sunday in the Bucs’ improbable 27-24 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

History will show that Glennon fired the winning 5-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with seven seconds remaining in the game. It will be documented that the Bucs took over at the Steelers 46 yard line trailing 24-20 with no timeouts and 40 seconds on the clock. …

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Johnson's sack, first of five for Bucs, set tone early

PITTSBURGH -- Limited by an ankle injury in the first three games, Bucs defensive end Michael Johnson made a big splash in Sunday's win against the Steelers, getting two sacks and forcing a fumble that set up the team's first touchdown.

"It felt good. The other guys did a great job freeing me up, of getting on the ball when it came out," Johnson said of his sack of Ben Roethlisberger on the third play of the game. "The offense did a great job of taking advantage of the opportunity."

Roethlisberger had been sacked by DT Gerald McCoy on second down, and Johnson followed on a third-and-16 play, forcing a fumble that DE Jacquies Smith recovered. Two plays later, the Bucs scored on a touchdown pass to WR Mike Evans for a 7-0 lead.

Johnson would add another sack in the second quarter, and the Bucs finished the first half with five sacks, one off the team's most in any half in the last 24 seasons. Scott Solomon and Da'Quan Bowers were also among the team's five sacks. …

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Bucs' Evans, Goldson sidelined in win vs. Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- Even as the Bucs got four key players back from injury Sunday to help pull out a wild 27-24 win over the Steelers, Tampa Bay is now dealing with injuries to two additional starters.

Rookie WR Mike Evans, who caught his first NFL touchdown pass on the opening drive, left the game with a groin injury, and veteran safety Dashon Goldson had a boot on his left foot after the game, having left the game early with an ankle injury.

The injury forced Evans to pull up in the middle of a deep route, which made for an easy interception by Cortez Allen at the Steelers' 11-yard line.

"Just a little tweak -- it hurt, and I couldn't run. I should have grabbed him so he couldn't get the pick. That's what I was most angry about," said Evans, who said he didn't know the severity of the injury.

Veteran safety Major Wright filled in for Goldson, finishing with nine tackles after totaling two in the first three games.

"I was going in on a tackle and somebody landed on it," Goldson said. "I felt it a little bit but stayed in, tried to play and see if it went away. It lingered a little bit. They haven't told me anything." …

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Murphy, Shepard step up with late catches in Bucs' win

PITTSBURGH -- As the Bucs rallied for 10 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 27-24 win over the Steelers, a pair of unexpected stars came down with seven of the team's final nine catches.

Louis Murphy, signed by the Bucs this week after being released in the final preseason cuts, came through with five catches in the fourth quarter, including a 41-yard grab to set up the winning touchdown. And Russell Shepard, a special-teams standout who rarely sees the field on offense, had the first two catches of his NFL career.

"Special teams deluxe," Lovie Smith called Shepard, who had six special-teams tackles last year but hadn't caught a pass until Sunday. "Those guys just stood up and made big plays when we needed."

Both receivers stepped up after rookie Mike Evans left with a groin injury -- Murphy's first catch didn't come until late in the third quarter, while Shepard's both came in the fourth quarter. …

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After misses, Glennon-to-Jackson worked for winning TD

PITTSBURGH -- Vincent Jackson had caught only two out of nine balls thrown his way, and the Bucs had gone 0-for-7 passing in the red zone in the fourth quarter when they lined up for third-and-goal at the 5-yard line with 0:12 left, trailing the Steelers by four points.

Jackson drew single coverage from Steelers cornerback William Gay -- only starting because Ike Taylor broke his arm last week -- and reached high to pull in a quick pass from Mike Glennon for the touchdown and a 27-24 win against Pittsburgh.

"It's just a great day," Jackson said after the game. "Hats off to our defense and special teams for getting us the ball back in great field position. They gave us a chance to win. We finished."

The Bucs had four shots from the red zone minutes earlier and fired incomplete four times, including two passes to Jackson. Another pass had missed on the previous play, but Jackson came through with the game-winning catch.

"That's their go-to receiver. During crunch time like that, you know they are going to 83," Gay said. "I expected them to go to 83. He won. I didn't." …

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Glennon rallies Bucs past Steelers with last-minute TD throw

PITTSBURGH -- The Bucs rallied for their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, with quarterback Mike Glennon connecting with receiver Vincent Jackson on a 5-yard touchdown with 0:07 remaining, stunning the Steelers with a 27-24 win at Heinz Field.

The Bucs (1-3) had missed on a previous chance at a game-winner, as Glennon missed on three passes from the 14-yard line with two minutes remaining. Tampa Bay's defense held the Steelers, and Glennon connected with receiver Louis Murphy on a 41-yard play to the 5-yard line, setting up the winning score.

Glennon, in his first start subbing for the injured Josh McCown, threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns -- with 245 yards coming in the second half. The road victory comes after a 42-point loss last week for the Bucs in Atlanta.

The Bucs found an offensive rhythm they'd lacked in the first three games, marching for two 80-yard drives in the second half, but a third long drive couldn't reach the end zone. After a trick play halfback option pass on first down, Glennon -- who made his first start of the season with Josh McCown out with a thumb injury -- missed on three throws into the end zone.

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger completed 28 of 37 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, rallying the Steelers from an early 10-0 deficit to a 17-10 lead. Trailing 24-17 in the fourth quarter, the Bucs twice got into the red zone, but settled for a 27-yard Patrick Murray field goal, then got nothing on their last trip.

Injuries continue to make matters worse for the Bucs, who lost starting safety Dashon Goldson to an ankle injury and rookie receiver Mike Evans to a groin injury. The Bucs did get defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, running back Doug Martin 

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Live blog: Bucs cut Steelers' lead to 24-20 in 4th

Greetings from Pittsburgh and Heinz Field, where the Bucs go after their first win of 2014 against the Steelers. We'll have updates throughout the game here -- Mike Glennon is starting for the injured Josh McCown.

3:45 p.m.: The Bucs drove from their own 8-yard line to the Steelers' 9-yard line, but couldn't punch it in there, missing on two throws to Louis Murphy in the end zone. Patrick Murray's field goal cuts the lead to 24-20 with 11:37 left ...

3:15 p.m.: The Steelers march 80 yards for another touchdown drive, capped by Ben Roethlisberger's 5-yard TD on a throw to TE Heath Miller, who keeps getting open for catches in the Bucs secondary. Steelers are back ahead 24-17, 7:50 left in the third ...

3:00 p.m.: The Bucs, after 64 yards in the entire first half, go 80 yards on the opening drive of the second, with half coming on a 40-yard bomb to rookie Mike Evans to the 3-yard line. Doug Martin goes the last 3 for a TD and it's a tie game here, 17-17. …

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Bucs have RB James, WR Herron inactive vs. Steelers

As expected, the Bucs will play today without injured QB Josh McCown, with RB Mike James and rookie WR Robert Herron among the seven inactive players announced in Pittsburgh.

Two more injured players -- LB Mason Foster and DE Larry English -- are inactive, as are rookie offensive linemen Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile. The Bucs also announced that Danny Lansanah, who returned an interception for a touchdown late in the loss at Atlanta, will start at strongside linebacker ahead of Jonathan Casillas.

Herron being inactive means Louis Murphy -- signed this week after being among the team's final preseason cuts -- will be the team's No. 3 receiver; James being inactive means the Bucs will dress only two tailbacks in Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey, along with fullback Jorvorskie Lane. The Bucs opted to keep all 10 defensive backs active against the Steelers.

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Dietrich-Smith fined $16,536 for two penalties vs. Falcons

Even in the context of a 56-14 loss, last week's Falcons game was a rough one for Bucs center Evan Dietrich-Smith, who had two snaps count as fumbles -- one lost -- and now has been fined $16,536 for a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties in the third quarter.

The two plays came after the Bucs trailed 35-0 at halftime -- the first saw Dietrich-Smith jump on the back of Falcons defensive end Malliciah Goodman as he lay facedown on the ground, directly in front of an official, after an incomplete pass. The second, about four minutes later, was specifically noted as a head-butt, as Dietrich-Smith continued to scuffle with Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow after a play and hit him helmet-to-helmet as he shoved him. CBS announcer Jim Nantz astutely observed that "that one might make the wallet a little bit lighter" as the replay was shown. …

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Murphy hopes to spark offense in return to Bucs

As the Bucs seek a spark for their passing game, they turned to a familiar face this week, signing former Lakewood and Gators star Louis Murphy, who was among the team's final preseason cuts four weeks ago after suffering a back injury in the preseason finale.

"I'm very excited and ready to go," Murphy said after Friday's practice, the team's last before traveling to Pittsburgh for Sunday's game. "I think we just need to do what the coaches tell us to do, execute the game plan and we'll be fine."

Murphy takes the place of WR Chris Owusu, who had a touchdown catch in the season opener but didn't play any offensive snaps in last week's loss at Atlanta, limited by an ankle injury. Murphy and rookie Robert Herron will be the speed inside to complement the Bucs' 6-foot-5 targets in veteran Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. …

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Bucs' pass defense off to historically bad start

It's hard to identify a most glaring weakness to the Bucs in their 0-3 start, which has shown problems in all phases of the game, but Tampa Bay's pass defense -- as much a sign of the lack of pressure to opposing QBs -- is struggling at levels that predate the franchise's arrival to the NFL in 1976.

In three losses, despite facing two backup quarterbacks, the Bucs are allowing opponents to complete a ridiculous 76.9 percent of their passes -- by comparison, the highest completion percentage for any team in NFL history is 71.3 percent, from the '11 Saints. No NFL defense in the last decade has given up more than 71.2 percent, as the '11 Colts did while going 2-14 when Peyton Manning missed the season with a neck injury.

And if you consider the yards allowed in the passing game, the Bucs are allowing a league-high 9.0 yards per pass attempt -- Tampa Bay's offense doesn't average that per completion. To find an NFL team that's allowed that many yards per pass attempt in any NFL season, you have to go back to the 1975 New York Jets, who gave up 9.1 yards per attempt in going 3-11, the year before the Bucs joined the league. …

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Longing for deep passes? Bucs go 1st to worst

You remember long pass plays for the Bucs offense, right?

As recently as 2012, the Bucs' passing game led the NFL with 16 pass plays of 40 yards or more, with Josh Freeman throwing six each to receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Last season, as the Bucs shifted to Mike Glennon at quarterback and suffered injuries at receiver, they threw just seven passes of 40-plus yards -- only five teams in the NFL had fewer.

And this year, as you might guess, the Bucs have zero pass plays of 40-plus yards -- their longest in three games has been a 36-yarder to rookie Mike Evans in last week's lopsided loss to the Falcons. Out of 32 NFL teams, only two others have a shorter long pass play for 2014 -- the Dolphins (1-2) have a long of 30, and the Chiefs (1-2) have a long of 27. …

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Bucs defense readying for Steelers' running game

TAMPA -- When Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell broke loose for an 81-yard run against the Panthers on Sunday night, it marked the longest run by a Pittsburgh player in any game in 44 years, since Frenchy Fuqua had an 85-yard run in 1970.

And as the Bucs travel this weekend to a city known for Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis, the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense will be standing between the Bucs and that elusive first win of the season.

"That's Steelers football, and everybody knows it going into this game," Bucs linebacker Dane Fletcher said. "I think they're pretty solid, and we have to be very sound and know exactly what everybody's responsibility is. We have to come ready to play, because they always do."

The Bucs know all about Bell, as well as former Bucs back LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for 118 yards on Sunday night, and even the retired Bettis, who ran for 101 yards in 2005 in Lovie Smith's only trip to Pittsburgh as a head coach, in a game where the Steelers ran the ball 46 times. …

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