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Tom Jones' Two Cents about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Atlanta Falcons broadcast

Wideout Antonio Bryant, left, celebrates his touchdown with Jerramy Stevens in the second quarter. The Bucs have given both second chances.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Wideout Antonio Bryant, left, celebrates his touchdown with Jerramy Stevens in the second quarter. The Bucs have given both second chances.

Worst start

Let's see. Two penalties on a punt return. Two motion penalties. A total of minus-4 yards on the Bucs' first possession. When coaches list the different ways to "get off to a good start," this would be No. 864, ahead of only having your star receiver shoot himself in the leg two nights before the game.

Surprise quote of the day

It appears former Bucs defensive star Warren Sapp remains plugged in with his old team. On the NFL Network pregame show, Sapp said, "(Bucs defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin told the boys he was going to go to Tennessee this week." Kiffin's son, Lane, was recently named coach at the University of Tennessee, and Monte is expected to become his defensive coordinator. The way things are going, that could be after only two more games.

Pick of the day

Each week, the guys on the Fox pregame show pick the top games of the day. All of them — Jimmy Johnson, Michael Strahan, Howie Long and impersonator Frank Caliendo — picked the Falcons except Terry Bradshaw, above, who was going to go with the Bucs. But when Bradshaw found out Brian Griese was starting at quarterback ahead of injured Jeff Garcia, Bradshaw changed his pick to Atlanta.

Line of the day

As the Web site TheBigLead.com pointed out, this is the 10th anniversary season of that computer-generated yellow line that shows where the first down is during a broadcast. You wonder how we ever watched a game without it. It has only one flaw: It's not actually seen on the field, which is too bad because Bucs players obviously can't tell for sure where the first down is. Have you ever seen a team that, for example, throws more 4-yard passes when it is third and 5?

Best comeback

I was all set to harp on Fox analyst Brian Baldinger for doing something that many analysts do. They introduce a topic and then abandon it, often leaving behind more questions than points. In talking about Bucs coach Jon Gruden and WR Antonio Bryant, Baldinger said, "He's always looking to give guys a second and third chance. He's got a bunch of them right now." Then Baldinger stopped, leaving viewers to wonder which players he meant. But a couple of plays later, Baldinger talked specifically about Bryant, Jerramy Stevens and Ryan Sims.

Strange call of the day

Fox announcer Dick Stockton screaming out, "And there's a flag on the play," on a long Falcons pass early in the fourth quarter. There was no flag.

Biggest question

Are the Bucs' special teams players capable of not blocking an opponent in the back or holding on kickoff and punt returns? One a game is sort of acceptable. Even two a game is understandable. But to have three in the first half alone is ridiculous. Then one to start overtime. Penalties like that wipe out good field position and, quite often, put teams in horrible field position. In other words, that's the kind of stuff that is costly in close games. "It has plagued the Bucs all day today — starting field position," Fox analyst Brian Baldinger said. "And it has been caused by fouls on the special teams."

Best reason to punch someone

Notice how Falcons coach Mike Smith bowed up to Bucs WR Antonio Bryant on the Falcons sideline midway through the fourth quarter? Bryant was bothered that a Falcons defender gave him a shove after the play. Unless Smith is wearing a helmet and pads, he had no business getting in Bryant's face. No business at all. Remember when former Lightning coach John Tortorella told then-Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock to "Shut his yap"? It was because Hitchcock said something to a Lightning player. And Torts was right — unless you're suited up, keep your mouth shut. It's the exact thing former Bucs defensive lineman Warren Sapp told then-Green Bay coach Mike Sherman when Sherman mouthed off to Sapp after a 2002 game. Sapp appropriately responded by saying, "If you think you're so tough, why don't you put on a jersey?" Sideline reporter Laura Okmin talked about how the Smith-Bryant dustup was her "favorite highlight" of the afternoon, and shame on Fox analyst Brian Baldinger, a former player, for not jumping on Smith for challenging an opposing player like that. Then again, that would have been controversial, and Baldinger normally doesn't do controversial.

Speaking of Okmin

What happened to Fox sideline reporter Laura Okmin? If she got paid by the word Sunday, she might have had enough to buy a hot dog and Coke — a small Coke — and that's about it.

Interesting number

Sunday was the first time in more than four years that the Bucs allowed 10 or fewer points in regulation and lost. The last time was a 10-6 loss to Seattle on Sept. 19, 2004.

Tom Jones' Two Cents about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Atlanta Falcons broadcast 12/14/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 15, 2008 2:29pm]

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