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TAMPA BAY 14, CINCINNATI 13

Clayton's Score Gives Buccaneers Their First Win

October 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — There was no doubt in Michael Clayton's mind. When he lunged for the end zone, he had the football -- and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first victory -- firmly in his grasp.

"I knew I scored," said Clayton, whose eight-yard touchdown reception with 35 seconds remaining gave the Buccaneers a 14-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It was our time. This team has been through so much."

Clayton's touchdown -- his first in 19 games -- was ruled an incomplete pass before the call was overturned by replay.

The Bengals (3-2) thought they had won when Clayton put the nose of the ball over the goal line on the fourth-down play only to have it knocked loose when he landed on the ground.

Referee Mike Carey reversed the call, setting off a wild celebration on the home sideline.

"We know it's only one win and this is not the NFC championship," defensive tackle Anthony McFarland said. "But we've got to start somewhere, and we start with this."

The winning touchdown finished off a rollercoaster performance by rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, making his second start for the Buccaneers in place of Chris Simms, who is injured.

The sixth-round draft pick also threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Alex Smith but spent much of the game looking like the inexperienced quarterback he is.

Carson Palmer threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Shayne Graham kicked field goals of 37 yards and 47 yards for Cincinnati.

The Bengals marched into Buccaneers territory in the closing seconds, but Graham's 62-yard field-goal attempt as time expired was short and off the mark.

Tampa Bay (1-4) avoided its first 0-5 start since 1996 and put an end to Cincinnati's eight-game winning streak against NFC opponents.

Gradkowski completed 25 of 44 passes for 184 yards and one interception.

Palmer was 24 for 37 for 261 yards with no interceptions. He was sacked twice.

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