Three of the Bucs' top young defensive talents combined to force a turnover late in the first half that led to a Matt Bryant field goal.
First, DE Gaines Adams, 25, broke free around the left side of the Seahawks front line and put pressure on QB Seneca Wallace as he dropped to throw.
Wallace got the pass away, but LB Barrett Ruud, 25, turned just in time to get a hand on the ball, tipping it over the head of the intended receiver.
Then CB Aqib Talib, 22, the team's first-round draft pick this year, intercepted the pass and returned it 19 yards to the Seahawks 35.
The turnover led to Tampa Bay's first field goal.
Scary hit for Hilliard
Bucs WR Ike Hilliard, above right, appeared to lose consciousness after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Seahawks LB Leroy Hillin the second quarter. "You could tell he was going out on the way down," QB Jeff Garcia said. "You never want to see that." Hilliard lay motionless as paramedics were summoned and his neck was stabilized. He eventually rose to his feet, looking disoriented but conscious. Hilliard, who suffered a concussion, was going to spend the night in a hospital for observation. Coach Jon Gruden indicated the wideout will be fine. As a rookie with the Giants, Hilliard sprained the interspinous ligament, which connects protruding parts of the vertebrae. He was put on injured reserve and missed the rest of the 1997 season. The play Sunday was ruled a catch, but the Seahawks challenged. Replay confirmed Hilliard fumbled, and the Seahawks took over at their 4-yard line.
Warrick on the spot
The 47-yard touchdown catch by Bucs WR Antonio Bryant in the first quarter almost didn't happen. It would not have if RB Warrick Dunn had not gone beyond the call of duty. How? He momentarily became a defensive back. When a Jeff Garcia pass was tipped at the line and bounced high in the air, Seahawks LB Leroy Hill looked like he had a certain interception. But as he attempted to corral the ball, in swept Dunn, breaking up the reception. Four plays later, Garcia found Bryant for the touchdown. Meanwhile, Dunn injured his back in the first half but returned later. Coach Jon Gruden said he will likely play next week at Dallas.
Wildcat wild card
The Bucs debuted the Wildcat offense, unveiling the formation early in the second quarter with a play popularized by the Dolphins. QB Jeff Garcia left his position under center and lined up wide right. Warrick Dunnlined up in the shotgun, took the snap and handed the ball to RB Earnest Graham, who was rolling right. The play gained just 3 yards but turned a lot of heads.
Who needs Favre?
Bucs QB Jeff Garcia took a page out of Brett Favre's book with a backhanded pitch/pass to new FB Jameel Cookin the first quarter. After rolling right, Garcia was turned back by the pass rush and darted toward the middle of the field. That's when he caught a glimpse of Cook, who eluded a defender just long enough to haul in the pass. When Cook turned up the field and found room, what looked like a desperate scramble turned into a 12-yard gain.
No Galloway, again
It was all a tease. Bucs WR Joey Galloway, 36, didn't suit up against the Seahawks, although many indications pointed to him returning from a Week 2 foot sprain. Galloway has now missed five games, leaving the Bucs thin at a position not deep to begin with. Practice squad member Brian Clark, a Tampa native, was activated Saturday to ensure an adequate number of receivers were available. Remember, Maurice Stovallwas inactive because of a hamstring strain he suffered last week against the Panthers. Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant started.
Bucs WR Michael Clayton lined up deep to return Seattle's kickoff after its early third-quarter field goal. Meanwhile, rookie returner Dexter Jackson was nowhere to be seen. Jackson's rocky season continues. Before being replaced, he had a 4-yard kickoff return to open the second half. Before that, Jackson's first two punt returns resulted in a total gain of 3 yards.
Let's go ... Rays?
Wondering what thecheering was for during a second-quarter timeout? It was for Evan Longoria, of course. When he drove in Carlos Pena to get the Rays on the board against the Red Sox, word quickly traveled at Raymond James Stadium - many fans followed the game by radio or cell phone. Moments later, the score was flashed on the stadium scoreboard, and it wasn't long before the chanting began: Let's go, Rays! ... Let's go, Rays! It was as bizarre a scene as you'll see at an NFL game. After the Bucs won, many fans stayed to watch the Rays on the scoreboard. And several players were glued to TVs in the locker room during the top of the ninth inning. Loud cheers ensued after the final out and the Rays earned a spot in the World Series.
A stiff southern wind wreaked havoc with the kicking game when either team went toward the north end zone. Bucs K Matt Bryant missed a 47-yard field goal just before halftime there.
Bucs TE Jerramy Stevens, facing his former team, seemed particularly motivated. "It (stinks) when you play against your old team and don't get it done." He repeatedly found the soft spot in Seattle's zone coverage and exploited matchups with a slower, less-athletic linebacker. QB Jeff Garcia, whose greatest strength is keeping doomed plays alive, rewarded Stevens, who finished with four catches for 55 yards. "That's what I love about Jeff," Stevens said.