American football: Defense the key for Bucs and Patriots
Tuesday 30 December 1997
The Buccaneers, appearing in their first play-off game in 15 years, bottled up the elusive Barry Sanders and used a balanced offense to beat the Detroit Lions 20-10 in the NFC match-up.
"It feels great, we've come a long way," said the Bucs coach, Tony Dungy. "Our defense did a great job with everything, and our offense in the first half did a great job controlling the ball."
In Foxboro, Massachusetts, the Patriots hounded the Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino with constant pass-rushing pressure and came away with a 17- 3 win after sacking Marino four times in their AFC game.
"This is as good as you hope your `D' can play," said the Patriots coach, Pete Carroll, about his defense. "I just hope we can keep this up."
Sanders, who this season became the third player to rush for more than 2,000 yards, gained just 65 yards on 18 carries for the Lions, who again had a player taken off on a stretcher.
Quarterback Scott Mitchell lay motionless on the field for some 15 minutes after taking a blow to the head late in the third quarter. He was later diagnosed as having concussion.
Detroit's play-off-clinching defeat of the New York Jets last week has been overshadowed by a spinal injury that ended the career of linebacker Reggie Brown.
Tampa Bay led 20-0 when Mitchell was injured, through touchdowns from Horace Copeland and Mike Alstott and two field goals. Back-up Frank Reich took over at quarterback and engineered a Detroit touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
The defensive job on Sanders ended the running back's record streak of 100-yard-plus games at 14.
Tampa Bay advanced to a divisional play-off at the home of the defending Super Bowl champions, Green Bay Packers, on Sunday. New England earned a match at the AFC Central champions, Pittsburgh Steelers, on Saturday.
The rest of the play-off picture has the Minnesota Vikings going to San Francisco to meet the 49ers on Saturday, while the Denver Broncos play their AFC semi-final in Kansas City against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Emirates was the easy option for Mesut Ozil. He needs a leader - and Arsenal don't have them
Police want right of veto over 'high risk' Friday night fixtures in wake of new Premier League TV deal
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao
Cristiano Ronaldo shows off his dance moves, including the moonwalk
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...