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Rays beat Blue Jays in extra innings behind Mallex Smith’s big night

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For a moment, it appeared that the strategy had worked. It hadn’t. For a moment, it appeared that the Toronto Blue Jays could get out of the jam. They couldn’t. The Tampa Bay Rays won another close one Saturday night, edging the Blue Jays in 11 innings. And the catalyst to it all was a speedy outfielder who had a career night. Mallex Smith reached base five times, on two hits and three walks. He hit a double and scored…

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USF will host former Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith on September 15

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The first season of new USF coach Charlie Strong will feature a familiar face. Former Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith, now in charge of Illinois of the Big 19, vists USF on Friday, Sept. 15, in a prime-time ESPN game. The Bulls announced their schedule Thursday, which starts with an opening game at San Diego State. The Bulls also have defending AAC champion Temple (Sept. 21), 2015 champion Houston on Nov. 4 and Tulsa, which was second in the AAC West…

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Bucs retain defensive coordinator Mike Smith with extension

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The Tampa Bay Bucs have made their first big off-season signing, and it isn’t a player. The Bucs signed defensive coordinator Mike Smith to an extension shortly after Smith withdrew his name from consideration from the (now Los Angeles) Chargers. Tampa Bay came on late in the season in their 6-2 second half. They had 29 takeaways, and they led the league in third-down defense. The Bucs started the season slowly with new corners and new defensive ends. Smith, 57,…

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Bucs hope to move Brees out of the way of their playoff dreams

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No quarterback has beaten the Tampa Bay Bucs as much as Drew Brees. Now, he has a chance to do it two times in three weeks in an effort to derail the team’s playoff hopes. Brees, the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, is 14-7 against the Bucs and has won eight of the last nine meetings. Lifetime, he has a 96.1 rating against Tampa Bay. “Me and Drew (Brees) have a little personal rivalry because we train together, so…

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Mistake by Lightning’s Victor Hedman lifts Florida Panthers to 3-1 victory

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Victor Hedman, one of the steadiest members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, made the key mistake in the team’s latest loss. Reilly Smith of the Florida Panthers stripped the puck from Hedman and scored with 4:32 to play in Monday night’s 3-1 defeat. The Panthers added an empty-netter at the end. The Panthers led 1-0 on a goal by former Lighting player Jonathan Marchessault. Ondrej Palat tied the score early in the third period, but Tampa Bay couldn’t manage another…

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Bucs think rookie Vernon Hargreaves III is showing progress

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One month into his career, Tampa Bay Bucs rookie Vernon Hargreaves has played decently. But so far, he hasn’t made a major impact in the Bucs’ secondary. That might change Monday night, when the Bucs play the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers and their big receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olson. Hargreaves played last week on the outside for the Bucs rather than divide time. “I think he likes it better, where he’s not moving in and out,” Bucs’ coach Dirk…

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Tampa Bay’s defense is off to a slow start after three games

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No one in the National Football League has given up more points in three games than the Tampa Bay Bucs. And guess what? Here come the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The Bucs are the only team that has given up more than 100 points (101) through three games. The Bucs are giving up 370 yards a game, 19th in the league. “I think we’re dead average, to be quite frank,” said defensive coordinator Mike Smith. “We’re not rushing the…

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