By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer
November 25, 2002
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Warren Sapp sat in front of his locker and answered the same question over and over.
Tampa Bay beat Green Bay 21-7 on Sunday in a meeting of teams with the top records in the NFL, however the hottest topic of discussion was what happened between the defensive tackle and Packers coach Mike Sherman during an obscenity-laced exchange.
Sherman initiated the confrontation, waiting on the field for Sapp to finish a television interview. The coach accused Sapp of knocking one of his players out of the game with a cheap shot.
``What you did was wrong,'' Sherman said before he and Sapp were restrained from getting closer to each another.
``You're so tough, put a jersey on,'' Sapp said. ``Win some more games.''
Sherman was angry about a block Sapp put on Chad Clifton during Brian Kelly's return of a third-quarter interception that set up the Bucs' go-ahead touchdown. The offensive tackle was carted off with Sherman said was a severely sprained right hip.
Sapp, who appeared to hit Clifton in the front of the right shoulder, said the hit was legal and he was stunned Sherman took exception. The Packers coach not only questioned the block, but thought Sapp made the situation worse by celebrating -- an accusation Sapp also denied.
``I just went up to Warren and I told him that I didn't appreciate the lick that he put on Clifton. That was the extent of it,'' Sherman said. ``The joviality that existed after when a guy's laying on the ground, with numbness in his legs and fingers, I just thought that wasn't appropriate for any NFL player.''
Sherman added that he may have overreacted, but that ``what I saw looked kind of cheap.'' Some of Clifton's teammates, including Brett Favre, said they would wait to look at the film before commenting on whether the hit was legal.
Clifton was pursuing Kelly, but was not close to the interceptor, who ran the pick back 31 yards to the Packers 18. Four plays later, the Bucs scored on Brad Johnson's 4-yard pass to Joe Jurevicius and added a 2-point conversion for a 14-7 lead.
Sapp said the film will show he was just playing football.
``I've got two or three (blockers) on me. We get a pick, Brian Kelly is running all over the field. I see a guy going at my man, I put a lick on him. What's the problem? I didn't hit him below the waist, there's no flag on the play. Is this not a contact sport?'' Sapp said.
``Nine referees on the field didn't find anything wrong with it, and I'm sure they're looking at 99 (Sapp's number). I don't care if they review it. It's nothing but the man's running after the ball and I put a lick on him.''
Kelly had two of Tampa Bay's four interceptions, setting up a TD with one and stopping a drive deep in Bucs territory with the other. Ronde Barber stepped in front of a slant pass intended for Terry Glenn to turn back another threat, and Dexter Jackson's 58-yard interception return to the Green Bay 5 led to Johnson's 3-yard TD pass to Ken Dilger.
Favre, who dropped to 0-5 at Raymond James Stadium, finished 20-of-38 for 196 yards and was sacked three times. Johnson was 15-of-25 for 134 yards with no interceptions and no sacks.
The loss was the second straight for Green Bay (8-3) following a seven-game winning streak.
``We can do one of two things,'' said Favre, who threw a 4-yard TD pass to Donald Driver in the first quarter. ``We can worry about this one and last week and let it affect us the next five games. Or we can win the next five. We win the last five and I'm sure we'll like where we are at the end of the season.''
The Bucs (9-2) are off to their best start ever and thrust themselves into position to make a run for home-field advantage in the playoffs, which would be major for a franchise that's never won a postseason game on the road.
``Their defense was tough. We scored seven points, and we're a better offense than that,'' Sherman said. ``They certainly made us look bad.''
Favre's TD pass was his 20th of the season. He has thrown 20-plus nine consecutive years, one shy of the league record held by Dan Marino. ... Bucs DE Simeon Rice had two sacks, giving him 11 1/2 . ... Tampa Bay leads the league with 25 interceptions. ... Packers QB Na'il Diggs' intercepted Rob Johnson's passand returned the pick 29 yards to set up Green Bay's touchdown.
Updated on Monday, Nov 25, 2002 1:40 am, EST
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