Bucs Down Jets 30-14 in Japan Exhibition
TOKYO (AP) _ The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up where they left off last season, defeating the New York Jets 30-14 Saturday in the American Bowl in the NFL’s exhibition opener.
Rookie Chris Simms, who started the second half for Tampa Bay, led a drive that culminated with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Barlow 45 seconds into the fourth quarter to put the Buccaneers ahead 20-7.
Tampa Bay widened the lead to 27-7 with 12:07 remaining when Tim Wansley knocked the ball loose with a hit on New York quarterback Brooks Bollinger. Wansley scooped up the fumble and ran for a 47-yard touchdown.
Tampa Bay’s Ralf Kleinmann made it 30-7 on a 37-yard field goal with nine minutes remaining.
Thomas Jones gave the Buccaneers a 13-7 lead with 12 seconds left in the first half by scoring on a 4-yard run.
Jets fans didn’t have much to cheer about, but the highlight for Japanese fans came in the final minutes of the fourth quarter when Bollinger completed a 44-yard pass to Yoshinobu Imoto.
Imoto was one of two Japanese players in the American Bowl. Linebacker Shinzo Yamada played in one series for Tampa Bay.
Bollinger then threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Reid just before the two-minute warning to cap the scoring.
The trip to Japan is part of an effort by the NFL to broaden the appeal of American football in foreign markets.
Saturday’s game was the 12th American Bowl played in Japan. Last year, the Washington Redskins defeated the San Francisco 49ers 38-7 at the Osaka Dome in western Japan.
The Jets scored on their opening drive after Lamont Jordan ran the ball in from the one-yard line. Chad Pennington completed a key 42-yard pass to Curtis Conway to set up the play.
Tampa Bay stars Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson saw limited action, as did most starters.
The Buccaneers got on the scoreboard in the first quarter when Martin Gramatica kicked a 37-yard field goal.
Pennington came out of the game after the first quarter and was replaced by Bollinger. Tampa Bay quarterback Shaun King replaced Brad Johnson early in the second quarter.