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Bucs Rest Starters, Lose To 49ers 21-19

        Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Michael Clayton, left, grabs a pass in the end zone past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Walt Harris (27) on a 2-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter of their game on Sunday afternoon.  Clayton came down with his feet out of bounds and San Francisco won 21-19.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in their estimation, did not have a reason to play their starters for an entire game, due to the fact that they are officially in the NFC playoffs.  But their second-teamers nearly pulled the game out of the hat late, except for a failed 2-point conversion; the San Francisco 49ers managed to hold on to defeat the Buccaneers 21-19 Sunday at San Francisco.

The first quarter was inconsequential as Buccaneers’ kicker Matt Bryant connected on a pair of field goals, a 34-yarder and 22-yarder. Tampa Bay extended their lead to 13-7 shortly before halftime when the 49ers’ Vernon Davis fumbled the ball, setting up Bucs QB Jeff Garcia’s 24-yard touchdown pass to TE Jerramy Stevens. San Francisco would recover an onside kick to begin the second half; moments later, 49ers rookie linebacker Patrick Willis forced Bucs QB Luke McCown to fumble the ball, setting up Davis’ go-ahead TD catch.

Early in the 4th quarter, after an interception by San Francisco cornerback Nate Clements, Gore would hit paydirt on a 24-yard pass by 49ers QB Shaun Hill, giving San Francisco a 21-13 advantage. The Bucs’ McCown would rally his team late on a 61-yard drive in 85 seconds; capped by a TD pass to Stevens. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the 2-point conversion failed as WR Michael Clayton couldn’t keep both feet inbounds.

Shaun Hill had an “efficient” outing, going 11-of-24 for 123 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Gore led all 49ers rushers with 89 yards on 21 carries; he also led San Francisco in receiving as well, catching 4 balls for 43 yards and a score. The Buccaneers did exceedingly well in the passing game; Garcia went 12-of-20 for 196 yards and a score, while McCown was 18-of-32 for 185 yards with a TD and an INT.

Tampa Bay’s rushing, on the other hand, was anemic with Earnest Graham leading the Bucs with 21 rushing yards. The Bucs’ leading receiver was TE Alex Smith with 79 yards on 7 receptions, while Stevens added 73 yards and 2 scores. San Francisco (5-10) look to finish their season on a positive note when they fly east to take on the Cleveland Browns next Sunday, while Tampa Bay (9-6) flies home for their season finale, hosting the Carolina Panthers.

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