Injured Cadillac feels sting of sideline
Cadillac Williams made NFL history in his first three games, but spent Sunday at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Extreme disappointment. Williams, limited a week ago by foot and hamstring injuries, was inactive. It was the first time he hadn't played since missing the final six games of his sophomore season at Auburn with a fractured fibula. "I feel like I could have helped," said Williams, the first player to rush for more than 100 yards in each of his first three games. "When you're an athlete and you're not playing and you're watching, you're disappointed. So, I'm very disappointed."
Without Williams, the Bucs failed to gain 100 yards rushing for the second week. Michael Pittman , Earnest Graham and Mike Alstott combined for 76 yards on 23 carries, led by Pittman's 46 yards. Pittman also had seven catches for 41 yards. Williams, who barely practiced last week, did not even test his strained left foot during warmups. Trainer Todd Toriscelli told him Sunday morning it was in his best interest not to play, Williams said. "It really wasn't feeling too good," Williams said. "Carnell just isn't ready to go," coach Jon Gruden said. "He will remain questionable until we see how he progresses."
Bucs' Runners Unable To Break Free
With Cadillac Williams out with foot and hamstring injuries, backups Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham carried the load, combining for 64 of Tampa Bay's 84 rushing yards.
While it moved the ball at times, the Bucs' ground game failed to produce any long runs or touchdowns. The longest run of the day, a 16-yarder by Pittman, was negated by a penalty. "I thought we were just pounding the ball," C John Wade said, "and I was hoping for one of them to break out at some point, but it unfortunately didn't happen for us."
In the first half, Tampa Bay controlled the ball for nearly 23 minutes and the Jets defense started to wear down approaching halftime. In the second half, however, mistakes cost the Bucs possession time. After New York opened the second half with RB Curtis Martin's 1-yard touchdown run to go ahead, 14-9, the Bucs began their next drive with the 16-yard run by Pittman to Tampa Bay's 41-yard line. But a holding penalty against TE Nate Lawrie brought the ball back to the 15 and the Bucs were forced to punt three plays later.
"We lost [the momentum] right there," said Pittman, who led the team with 13 carries for 46 yards and seven receptions for 41 yards. "It's hard to fight back. It's all about momentum in this game and when something like that happens, you lose momentum and they gain confidence."
Jon Gruden had warned his team that its high number of penalties would eventually be costly. Tampa Bay entered Sunday's game with the third-most penalties in the league (41) and added 12 to that total, which included four unnecessary roughness calls and three false starts. It was the eighth time in the Bucs' last 17 games they've committed 10 or more penalties. "We may have to regroup and figure out how we can get some of these errors solved because they are clearly hurting us," Gruden said.
Other injury woes
Williams wasn't the only starter on the sideline with an injury. SS Jermaine Phillips was also inactive with a fractured thumb and second-year S Will Allen started in his place. Another starter limited by injury was WR Michael Clayton, who played in Sunday's game but failed to record a catch. Clayton re-aggravated a shoulder injury in last week's game against Detroit. "Obviously, Clayton didn't play a major role today and is clearly not himself," Gruden said.
Kenyatta - the tackling machine
Kenyatta Walker was asked if he had an incentive clause in his contract that rewarded him for tackles. "Maybe I should," Walker said. For the third consecutive game, Walker made a touchdown-saving tackle following an interception. On third-and-2 from the Bucs 39-yard line, a Brian Griese pass intended for WR Edell Shepherd was intercepted by Jets CB Ty Law.
Law ran 43 yards before Walker and LG Dan Buenning brought him down at the Bucs 8.