Hard Work Pays Off For Cadillac
The last time Cadillac Williams celebrated an individual achievement was Sept. 23, 2007. Prior to Tampa Bay's 23-20 victory against New Orleans on Sunday, that was the last time Williams scored a touchdown. It was a 7-yard run in the third quarter and one week later, Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Williams returned to action last week, and on Sunday his 8-yard touchdown run against New Orleans ended his 14-month scoring hiatus. "I was just like, 'Wow,'" Williams said of his third-quarter score. "It just put me back to all the hard work I had put into rehab. For me to go out there and score, I was just ecstatic."
Jon Gruden also was thrilled about Williams' touchdown and said he is slowly integrating his running back into the offense. While players and coaches were happy about Williams' performance, the only player who showed little emotion after scoring was the touchdown maker, which surprised fellow RB Warrick Dunn.
"To see what he's been through and where he's going is huge," Dunn said. "He gains confidence with every carry in every game, but it's a great to see him back. I'm a little surprised that he didn't go a little crazy, but I'm happy for him right now."
Milestones for Gruden
Tampa Bay's ninth victory of the season has assured Gruden of his first back-to-back winning seasons as a Bucs coach. He is also the first NFC South coach to have consecutive winning seasons.
In addition, Gruden, 45, became the third-youngest head coach in the NFL during the Super Bowl era to reach 100 wins. Only John Madden, 41, and Bill Cowher, 44, reached 100 wins at a younger age since 1966. Gruden won 12 games in 2002; with four regular-season games left, he has a chance to tie or eclipse that mark.
Just for kicks
Matt Bryant could not be happier about his weekly contributions, but a part of him wishes he was not as active. "Honestly, you want to go out there and kick five extra points a game, but sometimes you've got to have a field goal," Bryant said. "It's my job to make field goals and I go out there and do that."
Bryant did his job well against New Orleans, making field goals of 38, 23 and 37 yards, plus two point-after attempts. He has scored 110 points this season, which has him ranked as the fourth-highest single season total in team history.
Tampa Bay committed only one penalty, prompting Gruden to say: "We've got a disciplined group of guys. It's very important to them. They kept their poise and won a hard, tough football game."
Tampa Bay's 9-3 record matches the best start in team history. The team was 9-3 in 1979 and the 2002 Super Bowl season.
Antonio Bryant scored his third touchdown of the season on a 39-yard pass. Bryant has 57 receptions for 736 yards and three touchdowns, and Tampa Bay is 3-0 when he catches a touchdown.
Cato June recorded his first interception of the season and 12th of his career. Phillip Buchanon's game-sealing interception was his second this season. His first was against New Orleans in Week 1.
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune 1 December 2008