Rough day in the pocket
Bucs QB Jeff Garcia took an unprecedented amount of time to emerge from the locker room for his postgame news conference. When he finally did, more than an hour after the game, the bandage on his chin revealed the reason. He needed several stitches to close a gash created by DE Ray Edwards' late hit in the second quarter. "I don't remember it," Garcia said. "It definitely didn't feel good. It caused me to stay on the ground a little bit to gather myself. I was fortunate it didn't cause a concussion or anything. I was able to stand up, get everything together and get ready for the next play." Worst of all, because the Bucs were at the Vikings 6, they were awarded only 3 yards — half the distance to the goal. "It's too bad they couldn't have put it on the 1-yard line or something," Garcia said. Bucs DE Jimmy Wilkerson was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Vikings QB Gus Frerotte. Although it wasn't much of a hit, it was technically illegal. "The official told me if any part of your hand or your arm touches the face or head of the quarterback, they have to call it whether you like it or not," Wilkerson said.
Feeling young all over again
If you saw DE Kevin Carter pursuing QB Gus Frerotte all the way to the sideline for a sack on the first play of the fourth quarter, you might have thought he was 25 and not 35. Well, Carter at least felt 25. It certainly isn't a play most would expect of a 35-year-old. "Well, maybe they should," Carter said. "Have you been watching this defense play? This defense runs and swarms. I'm a member of the defense, so I do it, too. It inspires me when I see guys like Cato (June) and Gaines (Adams) just running around. My wife teases me because she says I think that I'm young again. Well, on Sunday afternoon, I am." The Bucs had five sacks, the most in a game this season.
RT Jeremy Trueblood thought he was justified in leveling LB Chad Greenway during a scrape in the first quarter, even though Trueblood was called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. "They hadn't blown the whistle yet, and they were stripping the ball away from (Warrick Dunn)," Trueblood said. "So, I go knock the guy down. I asked the (official), 'How do I know that if the ball flies out, you're not going to call a fumble because there was no whistle.' He looked at me and said, 'I know I was a little late on the whistle. I'm working on it.' I told him, 'I hope you know you just killed our drive.' He told me to, 'Shut the (expletive) up.' Are (officials) allowed to talk to players like that?" Well, Trueblood certainly was right about the call killing the drive. The Bucs would have been positioned for third and 2 at the Vikings 15, but the infraction — considered to be after the play and thus not allowing the down to be replayed — created third and 17 at the 30. The Bucs wound up kicking a 39-yard field goal.
K Matt Bryant tied a career best with four field goals on a career-high five attempts. Bryant connected from 39, 26, 29 and 26 yards, while just missing a 46-yarder into the wind wide to the right. He has 24 field goals for the season, just four shy of his career high set last season.
The Vikings are widely thought to have the most feared defensive line in football, but Bucs LT Donald Penn certainly didn't play fearfully. DE Jared Allen was held to two tackles. As for getting anywhere near the quarterback … "After the game, (Allen) came up to me and shook hands," QB Jeff Garcia cracked. "Donald Penn did a great job. Jared Allen is a great defensive end. He's been a menace in this league the last few years. Donald Penn, you can't say enough about how he's played at the left tackle position having to face some of the best defensive ends in the league week in and week out." Allen entered with a pair of multi-sack games, recording two each against the Bears and Texans. His trade to Minnesota from Kansas City in the offseason was among the league's biggest. But Sunday, you barely knew Allen was in the stadium. "I've been lucky enough to come out on top against a lot of these defensive ends," Penn said. "Yeah, it makes me better. And it lets them know, too. When they look at the scouting report on Wednesday, they probably look at it like, 'Donald Penn? Who the heck is that?' I love that. I wish it would be that way the rest of my career. I just want to sneak up and bite them."
Red zone troubles
The Bucs' hiccups in the red zone continued. It's hard to imagine not scoring a touchdown after being set up with first and goal at the Vikings 3. But the Bucs managed to pull it off. It took a perfect storm of futility, but this is how it unfolded: On first down, RB Warrick Dunn, trying to get around right end, was stuffed by CB Antoine Winfield for a 4-yard loss. On second down, QB Jeff Garcia threw behind WR Michael Clayton, above, who was running a crossing pattern down the middle of the end zone. And on third down, Garcia threw to RB Clifton Smith, who managed a 1-yard loss. The result: Fourth and goal from the 8 and another Matt Bryant field goal (26 yards).
Lynch in attendance
Former Bucs S John Lynch, above, served as honorary team captain. For the coin toss, he accompanied family members of Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Dougherty of Bradenton, who was killed by a mine in July 2004. Lynch was a special guest of the Glazers, watching the game from the owners' suite. And today at One Buc Place, the nine-time Pro Bowl player will announce his retirement as a Buc, though a representative of the Broncos will attend — making it something of a dual retirement. "It's been a fun day," he said. As for today's ceremony, he added, "I'm really looking forward to it."
Earning a bad reputation
The Bucs' Clifton Smith arguably could be gaining a reputation as a fumbler after committing his third in as many games as a pro. Smith, in part because FB B.J. Askew missed his lead block, was flattened by CB Cedric Griffin, causing Smith to fumble at the Vikings 30 in the third quarter. LB Ben Leber recovered it at the 28. Smith fumbled in his first game as a pro, last month at Dallas. And he fumbled in the red zone in Week 9 at Kansas City. Smith has gained a bigger role in the offense the past couple of games because of injuries to other running backs, adding to his duties as a returner. His past two fumbles have come as a running back, while the first was committed on a kickoff return.
Barber's highs and lows
CB Ronde Barber got his second sack this season when he decked QB Gus Frerotte on the first series of the game. It was the 23rd of his career, second among active defensive backs, behind New England's Rodney Harrison (30.5). But Barber had Frerotte and RB Adrian Peterson wiggle away from him on separate plays. Peterson's turned into a 22-yard pickup. LB Derrick Brooks bailed Barber out on the would-be sack of Frerotte on a fourth-down play that still had Barber scratching his head. "How the hell did I miss that sack, by the way?" Barber said. "He ducked under me. He's a regular Michael Vick."