Pittman Shows Flashes, But Numbers Aren't There
The Tampa Tribune, published 18 November 2002

The boos came from the stands, followed by the ``Alstott'' chant. There were many times Sunday when Bucs running back Michael Pittman touched the ball, the Raymond James Stadium crowd roared its disapproval. His numbers didn't support his cause. The free-agent acquisition finished with 21 carries for 57 yards and also caught four passes for 21 yards. ``I hear the boos and it bothered me a little bit, but I try not to let it get to me,'' Pittman said. ``I'm out there trying my best. I hear it and it can be frustrating, but at the same time, I'm trying to get it out of my head and go on to the next play. I'm out there doing the best that I can and if people don't understand that, then I'm sorry. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win.''

Though his average was down, 2.7 yards per carry, Pittman got more carries than he had all season and was able to break off a couple of runs, showing some flashes of the running back Bucs fans expected. There were four plays where he had negative yardage, but he also picked up four first downs. ``Coach [Jon] Gruden let me get into the flow,'' Pittman said. ``I ran the ball hard today. I know I didn't have the big yardage, but I was running as hard as I could, jumping over defenders and just trying to do what I could get done. I'm just going to keep plugging and keep running the ball hard.''

Arguably Pittman's best play came in the fourth quarter, when he recovered quarterback Brad Johnson's fumble. It kept a scoring drive alive, allowing Martin Gramatica to kick a 32-yard field goal for a 20-10 Bucs lead. ``I tried to show a little bit today,'' Pittman said. ``I knew it was going to be rough all day because they have a good defense.''

Carolina's defense is stingy against the rush. Entering the game, the unit was ranked seventh in the league and it limited the Bucs to 67 yards on the ground. It didn't help that Pittman and running back Aaron Stecker each lost fumbles or that the Bucs' longest run of the game was 8 yards. ``We need a long run and we're going to get that,'' Gruden said. ``We're going to keep pounding the rock.''