TAMPA — Despite having the league's fourth-best scoring offense, a four-game win streak — and five victories in their past six — playing a division rival with the best record in the NFC and a holiday weekend with cool temperatures forecast, the Bucs' game Sunday against the Falcons will be blacked out, the team said Thursday.
Monday, the Bucs said they needed to sell about 7,400 nonpremium seats to reach the league's 85 percent threshold (about 44,000) to lift the blackout. They did not say how short they fell.
The game becomes the 18th of the past 21 at home not to be shown within a 75-mile radius of Raymond James Stadium. The exceptions are Oct. 21 against the Saints and last season's national TV games against the Cowboys and Colts.
The Bucs have tried to increase attendance by reducing prices on 80 percent of tickets and offering half-season plans and a 12-month payment option for season-ticket buyers.
BENN ON IR: WR Arrelious Benn's season again has ended with an injury.
Benn went on injured reserve after re-injuring his right knee Sunday against Carolina. Benn, slowed earlier this season by a shoulder injury, played the entire game, including covering kicks, and felt pain afterward. The Bucs don't believe the injury is serious — possibly a slightly torn medial collateral ligament. He's expected to recover after arthroscopic surgery.
The Bucs signed WR David Douglas from the Giants' practice squad.
"I'm disappointed because he was helping in a lot of ways," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "But on special teams, he had a really good performance. He had three tackles in Carolina."
Benn missed all the preseason and the season opener with a sprained right MCL sustained on the first day of camp when he collided with CB E.J. Biggers (who broke his left foot.)
In eight games, Benn caught four passes for 26 yards and rushed three times for 16. He eventually was replaced in the slot by Tiquan Underwood.
Benn tore his left ACL in Week 16 of 2010, his rookie season, and sustained a neck injury in Week 14 last season.
More Injuries: CB Eric Wright (Achilles/ankle) and S Cody Grimm (hamstring) did not practice.
Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.