SEATTLE — For weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been working on a trick play to be used in a goal-line situation and they sprung it on the unprepared Seahawks late in the opening half Sunday.
Rookie wide receiver Russell Shepard had just caused a fumble on a Seattle kickoff return when tight end Tim Wright latched on to a 27-yard pass from quarterback Mike Glennon. Seattle Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play, giving the Bucs a first down at the 2-yard line.
That's when the Bucs turned to a little trickery.
Rookie running back Mike James stopped short on a carry and jumped into the air and floated a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Crabtree for a stunning 21-0 lead.
“I knew I could trust Crab to make a play,'' James said with a smile as wide as some of the holes he ran through Sunday.
Crabtree, a free agent signed from Green Bay, stumbled on the play. He was on the ground in the end zone when James went airborne, but scrambled to his feet to make the catch.
“We felt the situation was right,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “It almost went awry. Crabtree fell down and he kind of caught it going backwards.''
Rutgers alums have big day
The finish was disappointing, but Sunday's 27-24 overtime setback was gratifying for some of the Buccaneers who played for Schiano at Rutgers.
Wright and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood each caught a second-quarter scoring pass from Glennon, and running back Brian Leonard displayed his versatility while accounting for 68 yards of total offense in a reserve role.
Wright grabbed a 12-yard touchdown toss to cap a 90-yard drive that put Tampa Bay ahead 7-0. The rookie from Rutgers caught all four of the passes Glennon targeted him with, for 58 yards.
“In the first half today, we showed what this football team can do,'' Wright said. “We took a step forward in my opinion. Mike Glennon plays well above his classification and he should be proud of what he did against a team as good as Seattle. ... He makes everyone around him play hard.''
Underwood's 20-yard touchdown reception gave the Bucs a 14-0 advantage, ending another long march.
“Mike showed poise the entire game and as an offense, we feed off of that,'' Underwood said. “To see Mike grow from the offseason to now has been amazing. He's a testament that you get rewarded for all that hard work.''
Leonard's 20 yards on five carries contributed to Tampa Bay's 205-yard rushing game and he added four catches for 48 yards as Glennon posted a glittering passer rating of 123.1.
Like a blanket
Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis says his surgically repaired knee is close to 100 percent and he went out and proved it against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's favorite target.
Revis played press coverage against wide receiver Golden Tate virtually the entire game, and Tate finished with three catches for 29 yards. His 19-yard reception midway through the third quarter came with the Bucs playing a zone.
“It's not enough,'' said Revis, who was credited with four tackles. “We've got to close out games, especially against one of the best teams in the NFL.''
Wilson threw for only 28 yards as Tampa Bay built a 21-7 halftime lead, but he finished with 217 yards through the air and 36 more on the ground.
“He makes plays,” Revis said. “Wilson can hurt you with his legs and also in the passing game.''