Howard's powerful running overshadowed by fumbles
Jack Sheppard, The St.Petersburg Times, published 25 September 1989

William Howard continued to demonstrate powerful running Saturday, rushing for 52 tough yards on 12 carries in the Bucs' 20-10 win over New Orleans. But Howard left the game with a sour taste in his mouth after fumbling twice inside the Saints' 15-yard line in the final period, preventing Tampa Bay from wrapping up the game early. “I'm pleased for the team, but I don't feel real good about my job,” said Howard, who fumbled once at the Saints' 10 after a 5-yard reception and again at the Saints' 8 after a 3-yard run.

“It makes me mad, because down there I should be concentrating on wrapping my arms around the ball. The first time I was trying to sidestep a linebacker and the ball just popped loose. The second time I don't know what happened. I played hard but I made some mistakes.” They did not go unnoticed by head coach Ray Perkins. “I'm disappointed we fumbled the ball twice when we had the chance to put the game away,” he said. “I don't appreciate making the head coach nervous like that. But I'm sure the players aren't worried about that.”

Saints placekicker Morten Andersen, who owns the title as the most accurate kicker in NFL history (151 of 193, .782), would have a tough time proving it to Saints fans today. Anderson missed two field goals Sunday - a 54-yarder in the second quarter and a 47-yarder in the third. Both of the kicks had the distance but went wide right. Anderson successfully kicked a 33-yarder just before halftime to tie the score 10-10.

Reviews were good for new offensive guard Tom McHale, who got the starting nod Sunday over rookie Carl Bax in place of the injured Mike Simmonds. In fact, Perkins hinted the line may have been improved with the switch of McHale from backup tackle to starting guard. “We might even be better off,” Perkins said. “You don't know what you have there until he (McHale) plays. He might be one of our two best athletes we have on the offensive line.” The NFL's instant replay system had a definite impact on Sunday's game. Facing third-and-6 at the New Orleans 31 early in the second quarter, field officials ruled Mark Carrier didn't get his feet down inbounds and, therefore, his 11-yard reception was ruled incomplete. But after a review by replay officials, the catch was allowed to stand, the Bucs were given a first down at the Saints' 20, and Donald Igwebuike kicked a 34-yard field goal three plays later for Tampa Bay's first points of the game.

One of the most bizarre series of events occurred late in the first half when (1) Lars Tate obviously lined up in the wrong position, forcing a frustrated Vinny Testaverde to call a timeout; (2) Tate was replaced by Don Smith, who moved out to a receiver position and proceeded to run 15 yards downfield before the ball was snapped; (3) Smith shook off the 5-yard penalty, gaining 17 yards on his first carry of the season, and (4) on the next play rookie receiver Danny Peebles made the first reception of his NFL career, a 22-yarder to the Saints' 5-yard line. Three plays later Testaverde fired an 11-yard touchdown to Ron Hall for a 10-7 Buccaneer lead.

The second most bizarre series came in the third quarter when rookie Chris Mohr was forced to punt three times. On the first punt, which was fumbled by Derrick Shepard and recovered by the Saints at their own 1-yard line, the Bucs were flagged for leaving the line of scrimmage early. On the re-kick, the Saints were flagged for running into the kicker, a 5-yard penalty. And on the third try, Mohr punted the ball 58 yards into the end zone for a touchback. Unfortunately for the Bucs, it was on that third attempt that rookie receiver Peebles suffered a dislocated shoulder, which may force him to miss Sunday's game in Minnesota.