Leftwich, offense bordered on the record books

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. – If Josh Johnson hadn’t come to the rescue, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have made history.

That’s saying something for a franchise that started 0-26 and once had a color-blind quarterback (Vinny Testaverde). If Byron Leftwich had continued at his pace, the results would have been laughable and historic.

As it turned out, the Bucs put Johnson in at quarterback in the fourth quarter and he threw everything out of kilter by moving the team 51 yards in a 24-0 loss to the New York Giants. That still was bad enough for the third-worst yardage total in franchise history, but it could have been so much worse.

At the point Johnson relieved Leftwich, the Bucs had managed precisely one first down and 35 yards of total offense.

“We made zero plays,’’ Leftwich said.

That number is pretty accurate. The Bucs did nothing on offense. Starting running back Derrick Ward, who was signed away from the Giants, carried five times for two yards and reportedly tried to get on the Giants’ bus. Kellen Winslow, the tight end brought in from Cleveland, caught three passes for 14 yards and wouldn’t talk to the media after the game.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something in my life where nothing went right,’’ Leftwich said.

Now, Leftwich has been part of that unique club. It wasn’t all his fault and he did have the offense ranked fourth in the NFL after two games.

“It was a major step back,’’ guard Davin Joseph said.

The Bucs finished with 86 yards of offense and Johnson’s one drive left him as the leading passer (36 yards) and leading rusher (15 yards). The only times the Bucs had less offense was in a blizzard at Green Bay when they had 65 yards on Dec. 1, 1985 and when they piled up 78 yards against the Falcons on Nov. 27, 1977 to run the franchise record to 0-25.

Kind of ironic that the Bucs are bringing out their throwback uniforms later this season. They're already playing like the Bucs of old.