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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs 14, Bengals 13



Is this the day the Bucs get off the schneid? Yes, in dramatic fashion.

Bruce Gradkowski had his struggles but led the Bucs on a final drive that concluded with Michael Clayton's catch-and-stretch touchdown with 35 seconds left. The initial ruling was incomplete, but replays showed Clayton lost the ball when he landed in the end zone.

Here's the blow-by-blow account:


  • Watch the right side of the Bucs' offensive line: Rookies Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood are starting at guard and tackle.
  • Wide receiver Michael Clayton this week called for more throws his way. He and Bruce Gradkowski can't connect on third down.
  • Booger McFarland tackles Rudi Johnson for a loss. Let's see how many of those the defense gets today. Well, make that two. Carson Palmer recovers his own fumble.
  • Gradkowski shows quick feet in the pocket, but the back-footed throw to the sidelines looks like a pick waiting to happen.
  • Three passes so far to Clayton, one completion for 5 yards.
  • Four tackles for a loss. Two Rudi Johnson sweeps are stuffed. Some bad luck: Bengals have fallen on two of their fumbles. Three downs and out.
  • On a reverse, Joey Galloway runs 30 yards to gain two yards. Honestly, thanks to Galloway's speed, the two yards are a bonus.
  • Clayton breaks a tackle for a first down. Four throws his way, two completions.
  • Ragged-looking throw is ruled an interception. Gradkowski rips off the interceptor's helmet. Bucs challenge. If the ruling is incomplete, does the personal foul stand? Yes.


  • No small achievement. Blue Adams tackles the Bengals' punt returner in the open field. 57-yard kick, 2-yard return.
  • Bengals have zero yards rushing at this point.
  • Will an offense cross midfield?
  • Yes, Gradkowski to Galloway for 18 yards.
  • Longest play of game for Cincy: 10-yard pass to Chad Johnson. Followed by Bucs' fifth tackle for a loss.
  • Crowd groans as Juran Bolden whiffs on Chad Johnson.

Touchdown Bengals 7, Bucs 0
T.J. Houshmandzadeh outjumps Ronde Barber for a touchdown (Times photo by James Borchuck). Bucs' challenge rejected.

  • Running behind the rookie linemen, Cadillac gains 18 yards.
  • Two shots at Clayton in the end zone aren't even close. That's six throws his way, with two completions for 16 yards.
  • Matt Bryant misses field goal; he's 2-of-5 this year.
  • Off his back foot, Gradkowski throws into triple coverage. Interception.
  • At the Tampa Bay 39, proud stand by the defense, batting down Palmer's fourth-down throw.

HALFTIME: Bengals 7, Bucs nothing

  • Gradkowski: 9-of-20 for 75 yards; one interception.
  • Cadillac: 10 carries, 42 yards.
  • Palmer: 15-of-20, 132 yards.
  • Bengals rushers: 8 carries, 3 yards.
  • Third-down conversions: Bengals, 1-of-6; Bucs, 1-of-7.


  • Rudi Johnson gains 24 yards on three carries. Shelton Quarles is down on the field.
  • Hello. Cadillac for 38 yards. But at the Cincy 21, it's still hard to feel confident.
  • Gradkowski escapes the pocket. First down on a generous spot.
  • Generous penalty on Robert Geathers. Roughing the passer sets up Bucs at the 9.

Bucs 7, Bengals 7
Gradkowski finishes 5-for-5 drive with TD throw to Alex Smith.

  • Rudi Johnson continues his second-half revival.

Bengals 10, Bucs 7
A field goal completes a 54-yard drive.


  • Stopping the Bengals is critical. The chance of the Bucs overcoming a deficit of more than one score is remote.
  • Ike Hilliard's sure hands are welcome on punt returns. He hurries to field a short punt and sets up the Bucs at the Cincy 46.
  • Cadillac at 100 yards. That's two consecutive games.
  • Ugh. Gradkowski misses Alex Smith on third and short. Josh Bidwell kicks into end zone. Bengals dodge two bullets.
  • Uh-oh. Palmer to Chad Johnson for 51 yards.
  • Bend, don't break. Three downs at the Bucs 29 and nothing for Cincinnati.

Bengals 13, Bucs 7
Another field goal and another challenge for Bruce Gradkowski.

  • So far, so good: two throws, two first downs.
  • First down on Gradkowski's sideline stretch.
  • Pffftttttttt. Cadillac is under 100 yards now after a big loss. The drive stalls.
  • The defense is asked again for a stop. Watch the bomb.
  • Thanks, Bengals. Playing the odds, Cincinnati is conservative, figuring the Bucs are unlikely to score. A safe bet at this point.
  • How many times have we heard "almost picked off"?
  • Wait a minute now. Clayton for the first down at the Bengals 32.
  • Whoa, another favorable break for the Bucs. Roughing the passer on a sack? We'll take it.
  • Well, here we go. Another Bucs receiver drops an apparent winning touchdown on fourth down (hello, Edell Shepherd). Replays shows Clayton stretching into end zone with football.

Clayton Bucs 14, Bengals 13
Upon further review, touchdown (Times photo by Brendan Fitterer).

  • Too much time for Palmer in the pocket.
  • 62 yards into the wind? Yeah, right.

Bucs win

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:43pm]


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