This week's bright spot is Cobb
You've got to hand it to Reggie Cobb. That statement not only lauds the 93-yard rushing effort by Cobb on Sunday, but it also describes a philosophy the Bucs took eight weeks to discover. Cobb set career highs for carries (21) and yardage against the Vikings, helping Tampa Bay control the football while building a 6-0 lead.
It was the most rushing yardage by a Bucs running back since Gary Anderson gained 108 yards in Week 4 last season at Minnesota. "I've always said I have to run the ball a lot," Cobb said. "I think the offensive linemen need to come off the ball a lot to get a rhythm. If you run here, and pass here, you know, it's good to mix it up. But sometimes, you have to stick to something."
Cobb, whose previous career high was a 70-yard rushing effort against Buffalo, said he hoped Sunday's performance convinced the Bucs to utilize him more as a featured tailback.
"I hope so, but that's yet to be seen," Cobb said. "I just need the opportunity. When my number's been called, I've done pretty well. I just have to wait my turn. It's tough, because me and Gary are alternating. But at times, neither one of us are carrying the ball. You're splitting time, and nobody's getting any carries. That's really rough."
Bucs tackle Rob Taylor, who replaced rookie Charles McRae in the starting lineup Sunday, said the offensive line felt confident it could control the Vikings' front. "I think we had a few running plays we put in to take advantage of their defense," Taylor said. "The scheme helped. But I think more than that was just that we had real good intensity on the offensive line and Reggie was running harder than I've ever seen him run. I'm not so sure it was the plays as much as our attitude. Everybody came to play today, and there was a fire in each guy's eyes. That's what it takes to run the ball."
Unfortunately, Cobb's best day as a pro was tainted when he tipped a pass from quarterback Vinny Testaverde into the arms of Vikings linebacker Mike Merriweather, who returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. According to Testaverde, the Bucs' game plan wound up making it hard to come from behind. "You're running the ball, you're eating up the clock," Testaverde said. "And it doesn't leave you much time if you fall behind."
But if there was a silver lining for Tampa Bay on Sunday, it was that the Bucs' running game finally showed a pulse with Cobb. "I think if you try to find some positive, that was an area we improved in," Taylor said. "I felt we're able to give Reggie some holes, and he was doing a good job running the ball. But there's little satisfaction when you don't win."
Rick Stroud, The St.Petersburg Times 1991