Fullback Mike Alstott started the night on a high note for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running onto the field during the intros of the starting offense. But the big story of the Buccaneers 13-10 win over the Pats Friday night at Raymond James Stadium was the play of backup quarterback Luke McCown. He did suffer three sacks, but when he did get a chance to throw, he was perfect, going 7-for-7 for 68 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 146.7.
McCown led the Bucs to two scoring drives and was relieved as Tampa Bay led 10-7 in the third quarter. “The thing we’re excited about is his mobility,” said Head Coach Jon Gruden of McCown. “He’s been on the rise since his return from a knee injury. Had he performed like this last year, he would have been our starting quarterback, no doubt about it. Luke McCown can throw the ball, he can run and he’s playing heady football right now.
“We felt good about the last two drives offensively. [It was] a little slow, surely; we missed a couple throws, dropped a couple passes, but it was a clean first half, not a lot of penalties. The guys [played] hard.”
Rookie running back Kenneth Darby also showed signs of stardom on offense, as he ran for 84 yards on 15 carries. The Bucs as a team ran over New England most of the night, rushing for a total of 169 yards, coming out to 4.7 yards per carry. The starting offense did look a little rusty, as starting QB Jeff Garcia was unable to lead the team to a first down in his two drives on the field.
“I think we were just a little bit off on a couple of throws,” said Garcia. “I think when you come into a situation like this, it’s a new place for me, you’re excited, you want to do well. You are probably moving through reads and progressions a little faster than normal because you want to get the ball into your receivers’ hands and allow them to make some plays. It was just one of those things where the timing wasn’t right tonight and the location of the ball wasn’t where it needed to be. Those are things that will be ironed out and we will get much better.”