Pittman's Return Provides Spark
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 4 October 2004

Michael Pittman showed Sunday why the Bucs have been anticipating his return since the season began. Pittman was suspended the first three games for violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. He was not allowed to be around the team while Charlie Garner struggled in his place, carrying 30 times for 111 yards in three games before rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee last week, ending his season.

As Pittman's name was announced at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, he received a standing ovation from the 65,341 fans and his play was one of the few aspects for Bucs fans to cheer about as Tampa Bay dropped to 0-4. ``I was trying to do my best and help the offense and supply a spark to this team. I guess I didn't do enough as far as getting the ball into the end zone and winning our first game,'' Pittman said. ``I was out there trying to do my best, but my best wasn't good enough.''

Pittman at least provided the Bucs with a rushing presence, something that had been lacking. He ran 15 times for 72 yards but received little help from Jamel White, who carried four times for 17 yards, or Mike Alstott, who rushed three times for 7 yards. Overall, the Bucs had 24 carries for 110 yards and no touchdowns.

The positive aspect for the Bucs is that Pittman battled through some fatigue and should improve as the season progresses. ``I thought he did extremely well in his first game back. It's an understatement what he did here [Sunday],'' Jon Gruden said. ``To be out of practice for three weeks and show up in a game of this magnitude and play as hard as he did and as long as he did is a credit to him.''

Pittman nearly was credited with a huge offensive play in the first quarter. The Bucs had possession on their 35 and faced third-and-2. Brad Johnson lofted a pass down the left side to Pittman, who was tripped up by linebacker Al Wilson at Denver's 45. Before anyone could say first down, the play was negated because receiver Michael Clayton was called for offensive pass interference in setting a pick for Pittman to get open. On the next play, Johnson was sacked, ending Tampa Bay's offensive series. ``It was great to see Mike in the game. The pass interference call early with the pass down the sideline hurt,'' Johnson said. ``He really hit the hole well. He really added some explosion.''