A good decision
m By the second quarter, the Bucs had pulled to within 17-7 on Warrick Dunn's 13-yard run with 11:19 left in the half. After the Lions went three-and-out, quarterback Jeff Garcia engineered a drive from the Tampa Bay 31 to the Detroit 36 before facing third and 13. It was a critical juncture in the game. If the Lions could find a way to hold, they would have a chance to regain command. But no such luck for hapless Detroit. Garcia rolled to his left, away from the pressure, saw veteran receiver Ike Hilliard emerging wide open deep down the middle and connected for a 36-yard touchdown. That brought Tampa Bay closer at 17-14 with 4:40 left in the half. "I basically had Ike going down the middle in a Cover 2 zone," Garcia said. "It looked like I had Antonio (Bryant) on an under route and probably could have popped it on him. But I just felt like I could push up in the pocket. When I did, Ike just flashed in front of me, and I was able to get the ball out and get to a place where he could make a play. He was in the right place at the right time and created a big play … to allow us to somewhat climb back into the ball game." Added Hilliard: "The weak safety was too far outside the hash, and Jeff was in a position to scramble and make a decent throw. And we were fortunate enough to score."
A shift at the line and a shift in momentum
m Having cut Detroit's early lead from 17-0 to 17-14, cornerback Ronde Barber, beaten for a touchdown and long gain in the first quarter, got the Bucs back in business again. He picked off Daunte Culpepper on third and 16 from the Detroit 18, giving Tampa Bay a first down at the Lions 24 with 3:05 still left in the half. It took only one play to cash in on the turnover. The offense did a quick shift at the line, throwing the Lions off. Then Jeff Garcia lofted a ball deep down the left hash to a completely uncovered Jerramy Stevens. The tight end made the catch in stride and scored easily. Just like that, the Bucs were out of the hole with a 21-17 lead and Detroit's hopes for its first victory in 2008 were fading fast. "It was just a great play call," Stevens said. "Our shift got them all mixed up. Their linebacker was late getting over there (to me), and it was just a footrace from there. And Jeff put a good ball on me." Said Garcia: "When we shifted into the new formation, they were confused. They didn't really know where to line up, and that's how I found Jerramy wide open in the seam."
Bucs collision results in Lions touchdown
m The long-awaited return of halfback Cadillac Williams from a serious knee injury actually started in inauspicious fashion. The Bucs were trailing 7-0 but had gained 22 yards on two plays for first and 10 at the Detroit 49. In came Williams, lining up in the backfield for the first time in more than a year. The momentous occasion quickly turned sour, however. As Jeff Garcia pump-faked — looking for Antonio Bryant breaking into the open — his arm hit Williams, who had moved too close to the quarterback. The impact knocked the ball out of Garcia's hand. It was promptly scooped up by strong safety Daniel Bullocks, who dashed 44 yards for the touchdown and a stunning 14-0 Detroit lead. Garcia said it was a play-action pass, and Williams was trying to "sell" the fake handoff. "(But) on this pass, unfortunately, it doesn't require as much of a play-action. I really need him to get out of the way," Garcia said. "That is just one of those things with him that repetitions and working together (would prevent). We could probably have talked about that earlier in the week in practice. I think Warrick (Dunn) had more of those reps, and it was something that Warrick and I had talked about. We can learn from a situation like that and grow from it." Said Williams: "I was stepping right to give a play fake, but on that play, there's no play fake. And Jeff kind of drifted to the right. But I should have been well out of the way."