Stifled Graham More Concerned With Victories Than Yards
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 22 September 2008

Earnest Graham is still on pace to reach his goal of 1,000 rushing yards this season, but he won't be with many more outings like Sunday's. Graham had 12 carries for 16 yards in Tampa Bay's 27-24 overtime victory against Chicago. Warrick Dunn fared slightly better, rushing five times for 31 yards. Overall, Tampa Bay's running game tallied 17 carries for 47 yards as the Bucs continue to focus on their passing attack. "We won. I'm not upset with that at all," Graham said. "I don't care how many times we run the ball as long as we get a 'W.'"

Graham's positive demeanor might be beneficial this season. In Tampa Bay's season opener, Graham rushed only 10 times, but gained 91 yards. Last week, Graham had 15 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown before his statistics dropped against the Bears.

Tampa Bay's game plan was to pass against Chicago's defense, which stacked several players in the box and challenged Tampa Bay to pass. The Bucs accepted that challenge as quarterback Brian Griese attempted 67 passes (nearly an NFL record), completing 38 throws for 407 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. "We wanted to come in and throw the football today. That we did ," Jon Gruden said. "We didn't expect to throw it 70 times, but you have to know what you have to do to win."

Stevens returns
Jerramy Stevens was on the couch for the first two games this season, but did not show any signs of rust. Stevens served a league-mandated suspension prior to Sunday's game, but returned and had five receptions for 61 yards and one touchdown. "It's never going to be a one-man show, but Griese was spreading the rock nicely today," Stevens said. "We knew what we had to do. Obviously they had a tough, tough run defense, so it fell on the quarterback and receivers to get it done."

Gilmore back home
John Gilmore stepped onto Soldier Field nearly two hours before kickoff to get reacquainted with his old stomping grounds. Gilmore spent six seasons in Chicago before signing with Tampa Bay this past off-season. Sunday's game was Gilmore's first return to Chicago since joining his new team. He finished Sunday's game with one reception for 3 yards, but left Chicago with a victory, which was more important to him. "This is good," Gilmore said. "All I wanted was a 'W'. Today Sunday is my 29th birthday and that was all I wanted for my birthday. It feels good."

Another wardrobe malfunction
Dexter Jackson hoped to impress his idol (Devin Hester) during Sunday's game, but had problems winning the approval of Tampa Bay's coaching staff. Jackson tripped over his feet during two returns in the first half. Tampa Bay's coaches seemingly became so frustrated with Jackson, he was replaced on kickoffs by WR Michael Clayton. He also was on the benched in the first half on a punt return in favor of Ike Hilliard.

However, Jackson said his cleats were to blame for those struggles. "On the first kick return, I had on different cleats and basically when I tried to make a turn at a certain point, I would slip," Jackson said. "Basically, coaches were saying hurry up and put the new cleats on. They put Mike Clayton out there and then stayed with Mike, but let me get back on punt returns."

Buc notes
Ronde Barber recorded his 22nd career sack, and tied John Lynch for fourth in team history for most games played (164)
Greg White recorded a sack in his third consecutive game. White sacked Chicago QB Kyle Orton for a 5-yard loss in the first quarter and has 3.5 this season
Ike Hilliard continued his resurgence with a 4-yard TD reception, his the second of this season. Hilliard had only one TD in 2007 and two in 2006
Barrett Ruud recorded his first interception this season, third of his career .