Rookie back Rhett carries the load, not the blame
Rick Stroud, The St.Petersburg Times, published 21 November 1994

It's getting harder to run down Errict Rhett - on the field and off. The critics who said he was too slow to be a big-time back in the NFL might be eating their words Sunday after Rhett became the first Bucs player to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games since James Wilder in 1985.

The second-round pick from Florida bulled his way for 111 yards on 24 carries in Sunday's 22-21 loss to the Seahawks. But Rhett couldn't carry the day for the Bucs. "One-hundred-yard games don't mean much when you lose," Rhett said.

It was just Rhett's third start this season at tailback, replacing Vince Workman on Sunday who surprisingly was inactive. But for all his hard running, it was Rhett's third-quarter fumble near the goal line that came back to haunt the Bucs. On third and goal from the 1-yard line, Rhett was dropped for a 3-yard loss and lost the ball after being hit by Seattle linebacker Rod Stephens.

"I'm almost sure my knee was down," Rhett said. "It's my first fumble since - I don't know - practice in 1988. I don't think that will happen again. It's the first time it's happened in a long time. I don't really know what happened. It was early in the game, but one play never really determines the game. That's the way I look at it. There was a lot of plays we should've made, that's the way I look at it. We didn't make them."

It was Rhett's running that enabled the Bucs to erase a 15-0 deficit and make the Bucs' play-action passing game click. "He's really running possessed," said quarterback Craig Erickson. "He's playing as physical as anybody out there."

Early in the season, Rhett had trouble feeling at home in the Bucs' offense. He was frustrated after being held to just 20 yards in his first pro start against the Bears three weeks ago - a team that entered the game last in the league against the run. But Rhett bounced back for 112 yards at Detroit and 111 Sunday. "Errict's been a good runner all his life," said center Tony Mayberry. "It's just that he's starting to adjust to the scheme. He's starting to understand what we're trying to do up front and taking advantage of it. We're just glad he's maturing. He's got two 100-yard games out of three starts. That's pretty good."

As a backup, Rhett couldn't get a rhythm or feel before he was out of the game. And the Bucs often abandoned the running game after falling behind. "I've always been a hard worker. I'm feeling more comfortable with my offensive line," Rhett said. "I'm beginning to know where to go if the hole's not there. As a starter, you can do that. As a backup, you don't get enough reps. I'm very frustrated. Just a lot of bad breaks happened. Just to lose - point blank - it's very hard. We're working so hard and this one right here we thought we really deserved. The scoreboard didn't show it, but we thought we won the game overall."