TAMPA - RB Michael Bennett showed his big-play potential Sunday on a 19-yard touchdown run that gave Tampa Bay a three-point lead late in the third quarter. The only problem with that was it occurred during the Bucs' 24-23 loss to the Jaguars. It was Tampa Bay's second consecutive defeat and one that dropped Bennett's new team to 4-4.
'It was bittersweet the touchdown run,' Bennett said. 'But it was just good to get involved with the offense, to be able to gain Coach Jon Gruden's confidence. I think that the more I do, the more we will be able to mix up some things. However, it was definitely bittersweet for me.'
Bennett used his speed after QB Jeff Garcia pitched him the ball. He took it around the left end, accelerated to get past Jacksonville's defenders and dove into the end zone for his first score in a Bucs uniform and his longest run of the season.
That big-play potential is why Tampa Bay acquired Bennett from Kansas City via trade before the trading deadline on Oct. 16. The Bucs were optimistic Bennett's speed and RB Earnest Graham's power would give them a powerful running back duo.
Last week, Graham rushed 19 times for 92 yards and had 13 receptions for 99 yards against Detroit, but he was limited to 62 yards on 14 carries against Jacksonville.
Bennett is optimistic that as he becomes more familiar with Tampa Bay's offense he can have a bigger impact, which could wipe away the taste of the bitter losses he has experienced in two games with Tampa Bay.
'I've only been here for two weeks; however, I see the poise,' Bennett said. 'We practice together, this is a great team. We just fell short today. Monday is a new day, another week, another home game and another opponent. Hopefully, we can bounce back.'
ROLLER COASTER RIDE: Bucs WR Maurice Stovall knows he experienced highs and lows during his third career start Sunday. Stovall was called upon to start in place of Michael Clayton, who is out with an injured ankle, as the Bucs opened in a three-receiver set.
For the most part, Stovall played well. He had five receptions for 47 yards, plus he blocked a punt on special teams that led to a field goal and a 23-17 lead with 5 seconds left in the third quarter.
However, Stovall was called for a pass-interference penalty late in the first half and a holding penalty on special teams early in the third quarter.
'Anytime you play football, as part of this game, you're going to have ups and downs. It's all about how you respond to it,' Stovall said. 'If you make a big play, you can't get a big head and be excited. If you drop a ball, or get a penalty on you, you still have to be even keeled.'
INJURIES: Bucs DE Greg Spires (ankle) and CB Torrie Cox (knee) left Sunday's game with injuries, but the severity of each was unknown.
Each will undergo tests today to determine the magnitude of their injuries.
BUCS BITS: DL Kevin Carter and LB Derrick Brooks each played in their 200th career game on Sunday. The two are tied for first among active defensive players in the NFL ... K Matt Bryant has 50 field goals with Tampa Bay ... WR Joey Galloway caught his 75th career touchdown with his 58-yard score in the second quarter. He has 27 career TDs for Tampa Bay, tied with former WR Mark Carrier in the team's history book. ... WR Chad Lucas and DT Ryan Sims saw their fist action as Buccaneers. Sunday was Lucas' second career game, while Sims appeared in his 60th ... TE Jerramy Stevens (23-yard reception) and P Josh Bidwell (58-yard punt) recorded season highs, while FB B.J. Askew (21-yard reception) had a career long ... Tampa Bay TE Anthony Becht started in place of injured Alex Smith. In addition to Smith, QB Luke McCown (third quarterback), CB Brian Kelly, RB Michael Pittman, LB Jeremiah Trotter, DE/LB Patrick Chukwurah, G Dan Buenning and Clayton were inactive.
Anwar S. Richardson