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Area grad, ex-Gator shines in his return home

Darrell Jackson has bragging rights.

Jackson, a product of Tampa Catholic High, played in his hometown for the first time as a professional and caught a team-high five passes for 50 yards in the Seahawks' 10-6 victory Sunday.

"I grew up watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I see a lot of them in the offseason," Jackson said. "So it was pretty good."

Jackson, a fifth-year pro, left Florida after his junior season. Drafted in the third round by Seattle, he has developed into one of the league's premiere receivers in coach Mike Holmgren's version of the West Coast offense.

Jackson led the Seahawks last season with 68 catches for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns. One of the offseason's most sought-after free agents, Jackson signed a six-year, $25-million contract, including an $8-million signing bonus.

"Darrell came in as a rookie and really was very good right away," Holmgren said. "He didn't come in as the most heralded receiver in that year's draft, but he has been as consistent as any player I've had in Seattle.

"I'm glad we kept him."

Jackson, 6 feet, 201 pounds, went through a three-game span last season in which he dropped eight passes but quietly went to work to correct the problem and finished the season strong. Picking up where he left off, Jackson led the team with seven catches in its 21-7 opening win at New Orleans.

Though the offense struggled at times against the Bucs, Jackson said he was unfazed.

"Every time we come on the field, we expect to score more points than that. But every time you come on the field, you're not going to score a lot of points," he said. "We are just lucky that we got out of here with a victory."

SACK STREAK BROKEN: Left tackle Derrick Deese hadn't given up a sack in more than two seasons, a stretch of 35 games, but did so Sunday. The veteran, however, was more concerned about the struggles the line had in general.

"We're down there on the 17-yard line twice and didn't get anything out of it other than (two field goals). That's frustrating," Deese said. "As a line, we feel pretty bad about it. We're embarrassed. I think when this offense starts clicking, when we start bashing, running and scoring the points we're capable of doing, we're unstoppable. But that just hasn't happened."

The line struggled to open holes for the running game against Washington. It was better Sunday as the Bucs managed 92 yards. But it also allowed five sacks.

"One week we're passing the ball and picking up the blitzes pretty well. The next week we're running the ball pretty well," Deese said. "The bottom line is we haven't put them both together, and we still haven't scored (a touchdown). Three points is not the offense really scoring."

NOWHERE TO RUN: One week after the Redskins' Clinton Portis rushed for 148 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown, the Bucs' run defense was much improved. Shaun Alexander, who played with a bruised knee, had 45 yards on 17 carries, a 2.6-yard average. Seattle had 56 yards rushing, 23 in the first half.

STILL HOT: Defensive end Greg Spires, who had five tackles against Washington, registered his first sack of the season and added five tackles. But Spires said it's hard to enjoy any moments.

"As a defense, to hold an offense like that to 10 points, that was a great effort," he said. "We just have to believe that our offense is going to come around. But we can't worry about that. We know if (the Seahawks) didn't score that seven points against us, we would have won that game."

GOING LONG: He was inactive for the opener and had no catches through three quarters Sunday. But Charles Lee's 35-yard catch during the fourth quarter was a possible sign of things to come.

"It doesn't matter who's in there," Lee said. "My job is to catch the ball. When it's thrown to me, I'm going to do it. Whoever is in there, we're going to back him and going to ride with him."

Lee's catch put the ball on the Seahawks 6, but the Bucs got only a field goal.

"Offensively, we stunk up the joint again," Lee said. "We get down there week in and week out, and we can't put the ball in the end zone. You can't put the ball in the end zone, you can't win. A field goal is not going to do it; not in this league."

BEATING THE HEAT: It's no accident the opposing sideline at Raymond James Stadium stays in the sun well after the Bucs sideline is in the shade. Unaccustomed to Florida's heat and humidity, the Seahawks had staff members hold large screens in front of players to block the sun as they sat on the benches.

GETTING HIS KICKS: Bucs punter Josh Bidwell was a busy man, again. He punted eight times for a 46.4-yard average and a long of 55. In the opener, he punted a league-high nine times.

BUCS BITS: Derrick Brooks' interception on the Seahawks' opening drive was his 20th, tying Ronde Barber for fifth all-time among Bucs. He will donate $7,000 to his hometown of Pensacola, hit by Hurricane Ivan, after pledging $1,000 for each tackle. Martin Gramatica was 2-for-2 on field goals and has made seven of his past eight.

_ JOANNE KORTH, ROGER MILLS, Times staff writers


Bucs Seahawks

Rushing yds. 92 56

Passing yards 179 126

Total yds. 271 182

Sacks by/ yards 4-21 5-30

Turnovers 1 3

Time of possession 33:43 26:17