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Bucs line holds up even after 67 pass attempts

That’s a wrap: Matt Bryant hits the winning field goal for the Bucs in overtime against the Bears on Sunday.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

That’s a wrap: Matt Bryant hits the winning field goal for the Bucs in overtime against the Bears on Sunday.

TAMPA — Merely suggesting the possibility would sound preposterous — if it weren't true.

Surely, no team could try 67 passes, exposing its quarterback over and over to one of the league's most punishing defenses, and have him come away with his uniform looking as if it were freshly dry cleaned.

But it happened. Bucs QB Brian Griese wasn't sacked Sunday, despite the Bears having an unprecedented number of opportunities. No Bears opponent has thrown more passes.

Most will remember Griese's late-game feats and maybe those of his receivers. But consistent pass protection enabled them to excel.

"I think it had a lot to do with our ability to come from behind and win," coach Jon Gruden said Monday. "Any time your quarterback has a chance to see and go through his reads, have vision in the pocket, it certainly helps. The pass protection, not just by the offensive line but by the backs and the tight ends, for the most part was outstanding."

But they faced some touch-and-go moments. Chicago was credited with six quarterback hits. The Bears had the benefit of knowing the Bucs were going to pass more often than not.

"It's hard to sustain that block with somebody coming at you all day," LT Donald Penn said.

Griese threw three interceptions, but they did not appear to be the direct result of the pass rush. Overall, it was a performance the Bucs can build on.

"It's encouraging, especially when you're up against a defense like the Bears," Gruden said. "We're excited about our line. We've said that since the beginning of camp. We're the youngest group in football, and we think we have the makings there to be outstanding."

Galloway still out?: Gruden did not specify the status of CB Aqib Talib (hamstring) or WR Joey Galloway (foot sprain) — both missed Sunday's game — but he said, "Aqib has a chance, probably a better chance than Joey at this moment in time."

That would indicate at least some doubt about Galloway's return for Sunday's game against the Packers.

Talib said, "I think I'll be all right for the game. It was one of those things where the only thing that is going to help is not hurting it, so they sat me out."

Gruden said FB B.J. Askew and DT Ryan Sims suffered hamstring strains. Their status will be updated Wednesday.

Clutch again: For K Matt Bryant, Sunday's 21-yard winning field goal in overtime was a relative chip shot compared to his memorable 62-yard winner against the Eagles in 2006. But, considering his field goal struggles in the preseason (7-for-12), Bryant was pleased with how he has bounced back, going 5-for-5 in the first three games.

"Things have gone well," he said. "I haven't had too many testers, but you're expected to make them all, no matter. It doesn't matter how short or how long they are, you've got to make them all."

Bucs line holds up even after 67 pass attempts 09/22/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:57pm]
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