Cadillac At Home On Road
With Sunday's victory at LSU's Tiger Stadium, Jon Gruden became the first coach in Tampa Bay history to have a winning record on the road. He can thank rookie running back Cadillac Williams for helping him attain that status. Williams has proven to be quite the road warrior for Tampa Bay this season. "He obviously has been a big part of our planning," said Gruden, who improved to 16-15 on the road as the Bucs' coach with his 75th career victory.
In the five road games Williams has played this year, he has averaged 108 rushing yards. Only one of Williams' road games produced less than 95 yards: 20 against San Francisco in his first game back after missing two with a foot injury. "When you're on the road, the home team is pumped up, so you have to come out with a different attitude," said Williams, who finished Sunday with 22 carries for 96 yards. "You know everybody wants to defend their home turf and it's just that much better when you beat them on their home turf. On the road, it's basically a different tempo."
Williams has been playing with a different tempo lately after failing to produce more than 30 rushing yards in three consecutive games. Fully recovered, he says, from the foot injury he sustained in Week 2 against Buffalo, Williams has averaged 99 rushing yards the past three games.
"I took it personally to take my game up to another level," Williams said.
On Sunday, Williams wasn't the only contributor to the ground game, which accounted for 133 of the Bucs' 248 offensive yards. After carrying the ball only one time in each of the past two games, backup Michael Pittman took advantage of his increased role.
"I thought Mike Pittman gave us a real good, energized, physical look in the hole as well," Gruden said.
Williams rushed the ball 11 times before Pittman got his first carry. The eighth-year veteran provided a change of pace in the third quarter when his first two rushes picked up a combined 35 yards. Pittman carried four times for 40 yards, including a long of 28 yards, one of his three plays that picked up first downs. He also had two receptions for 19 yards.
"Coach gave me some opportunities to play today and I appreciated it," Pittman said. "The past couple of weeks, I really didn't play that much. He called my number today a little bit more and it was fun."
Williams' number was called on three consecutive plays to help set up quarterback Chris Simms' 30-yard touchdown play to Joey Galloway in the second quarter. Williams also contributed on that play with a big block. He also contributed in the passing game, with two receptions for 7 yards. Williams' second reception, early in the fourth quarter, picked up a key first down that helped lead to Todd France's 28-yard field goal.
Williams produced 60 of his 103 all-purpose yards in the second half. "Carnell is a guy that we said all along really starts to get it going in the middle of the third quarter and late in the game," Gruden said. "He played magnificently. He made a key [blitz] pickup on the touchdown pass to Galloway. He's improving in every area. He's going to be a force in this league, provided he continues to do what he's doing." When you're on the road, the home team is pumped up, so you have to come out with a different attitude. You know everybody wants to defend their home turf and it's just that much better when you beat them on their home turf. On the road, it's basically a different tempo."
Katherine Smith, The Tampa Tribune 5 December 2005