The Buccaneers did exactly what they wanted, without much resistance, in their 31-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Just as they did in their 41-0 win over Chicago at home last week.
Tampa Bay, undefeated after three games for just the second time since 1979, rushed for 120 yards and limited the Lions (2-1) to 17 yards on the ground. Shaun King threw a touchdown pass and rushed for a score. Warren Sapp led the harassment of Detroit's Charlie Batch with three of Tampa Bay's seven sacks.
The Buccaneers want to run the ball right at teams while mixing in a pass here or there. On defense, they want to shut down the run so teams are forced into obvious passing situations.
That was the formula for success in the Buccaneers' run to the NFC Championship game last season, and they're hoping it will lead them to the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay beat Detroit in the Silverdome for just the second time in eight visits.
Batch, in his second game of the season, was 26-of-36 for 277 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. James Stewart gained just 13 yards on eight carries, while Germane Crowell had six receptions for 93 yards.
"We knew it was going to be physical, and we just weren't up to it," Batch said. "They physically dominated us all game. You can't let a team like that dictate what you are going to do. We couldn't run, and they just teed off on us."
Desmond Howard's returns and the Lions' stingy defense weren't enough this week, as they were in the first two.
"I apologize to our fans - they deserve better than that," Detroit coach Bobby Ross said. "That was just an old-fashioned butt-kicking."
Special-teams plays led to the first two scores of the game.
Detroit's Jason Hanson kicked a 38-yard field goal on the first possession of the game. Howard set up the score with a 63-yard kickoff return.
King gave Tampa Bay a 7-3 lead on a 6-yard draw. Four plays earlier, Karl Williams returned a punt 42 yards to Detroit's 18.
"I thought it was big holding them to a field goal," Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy said. "Then our offense came back and was able to answer right away. That's something we haven't been able to do up here."
The Bucs built a 14-3 lead on their next drive. Alstott scored on a 4-yard run after running over safety Kurt Schulz at the 3.
Randall McDaniel, an offensive guard playing fullback, caught a 2-yard pass from King to give the Buccaneers a 21-3 lead with 2:16 left in the half, the first touchdown of his 13-year career.
"It's been in the books ever since training camp," McDaniel said.
The Lions' offense produced a touchdown for the first time this season as time expired in the first half. Batch heaved a 50-yard pass to Crowell, who leaped to catch the ball in front of Brian Kelly at the goal line.
"We were still up 11 points at the time," Sapp said. "They still were three scores away from us and you just knew that wasn't going to happen."
Tampa Bay went ahead 24-10 on its first possession of the second half during a bizarre drive, which lasted 19 plays and 9:31 and ended with Martin Gramatica's 24-yard field goal.
Warrick Dunn added a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:39 remaining.
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