In the fourth quarter, they never missed a beat after the Giants hit them with a major turnover, an intercepted pass that young New York cornerback Frank Walker ran in for a 56-yard touchdown.
You don't root for your side to fumble, but you don't give it much worry time.
The Buccaneers (5-6) simply shrugged off the New York rookie's startling interception, and, led by quarterback Brad Johnson, had their way again thereafter with the determined but undisciplined Giants (4-7), who were caught for three critical face-mask fouls and a half dozen other mostly stupid infractions. The Giant coach, Jim Fassel, a good one, has always prided himself on fielding well-disciplined teams, but in this game he appeared to be losing control.
Although more than seven minutes remained after the Walker turnover, there was no shift in momentum as the two quarterbacks, Johnson and New York's Kerry Collins, went on making good throws and bad against defensive teams that staggered sometimes but never collapsed.
Turnovers Don't Decide NFL Games
AS A PRINCIPAL CAUSE of victory and defeat, NFL turnovers are widely and wildly overrated. If the San Francisco 49ers best Baltimore next Sunday in turnover ratio as well as in total points scored, you'll never hear me say that one led to the other.
Look what turnovers did for San Francisco this week when Brett Favre was intercepted at the Green Bay 20 twice in the first half: The 49ers got nothing either time, and eventually lost the day, 20-10.
Turnovers don't win or lose football games. Coaches and players do. The relevant facts after any interception or fumble are what prompted it and what the two teams do next. In the Green Bay instance, Favre's broken thumb led to the interceptions — meaning he should be cleared of personal blame — and lax coaching led to the 49ers' failure to score.
In scoring position, when offensive linemen are flagged repeatedly for illegal procedure, that's lack of discipline, and that's a coaches' problem. And when an offensive team keeps running the ball unsuccessfully into stacked running-play defenses, that's another coaches' error. Turnovers are merely something they blather about to insinuate that it's never the coach who errs.
Five Ram Turnovers Don't Faze Bulger
THE ST. LOUIS RAMS, taking sole possession of first in the NFC West, turned the ball over five times Sunday — on quarterback Marc Bulger's four interceptions and a fumble — and won anyway, 30-27, at Arizona.
That was reminiscent of the six turnovers that Joe Montana survived (after his three interceptions and three fumbles) to beat Dallas in the 1980s game that began San Francisco's long run to an unprecedented five Super Bowl championships.
The Rams in recent weeks have been unable to decide whether they want to be a passing team or a balanced mainstream football team, but at Arizona, where Bulger threw for 329 yards, they were more of a passing team. That day, as all good passers must, Bulger simply ignored the reality that to a passing team, interceptions are part of football.
Doggedly, beautifully, he kept throwing the ball downfield to Isaac Bruce, one of the smoothest and slickest of NFL receivers all-time, and to Torry Holt, another great one. On the Rams' two winning drives, Bulger executed Coach Mike Martz's game plan precisely with a series of astounding downfield passes.
Other coaches today magnify turnovers and use those plays as an excuse for losing. By turnovers, they mean, "I did everything right, but my players screwed up."
At every opportunity, most NFL coaches talk about the severity and power of turnovers, particularly when talking to TV announcers. And they've made believers of most announcers who, parroting the coaches' line, identify turnovers as decisive nearly every Sunday. Not so.
Here's How to Analyze an NFL Turnover