Copyright 2006 PewterReport.com
On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did what they could not do in two meetings with the Washington Redskins last year – establish the running game behind halfback Cadillac Williams. Last year’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year was held to 20 yards on 10 carries and had a critical fumble in last year’s 36-35 win over Washington, and could only muster 49 yards rushing on 18 carries in Tampa Bay’s 17-10 playoff loss to the Redskins. Williams also had a costly fumble that was returned for a 51-yard touchdown in that postseason defeat.
But in Tampa Bay’s 20-17 win over Washington at Raymond James Stadium, Williams rushed for a season-high 122 yards on 27 carries (4.5 avg.) to help the Bucs improve to 3-7. For his efforts, Williams is this week’s Pewter Report MVP.
After a slow start, the Buccaneers running game was kick-started by Mike Alstott, who had three carries for 25 yards, including a 16-yard dash, on Tampa Bay’s field goal drive in the first quarter. With Alstott creating some early momentum, the Bucs stuck with the run and turned the ball over to Williams, who had 46 yards on 13 carries at halftime with his longest run being a 7-yard scamper.
Despite being down 10-3 when Tampa Bay got the ball in the third quarter, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden stayed committed to the run in the second half, where Williams gained 76 yards on 14 carries. Williams ripped off a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter to help set up Tampa Bay in field goal position to take a 10-point lead over Washington late in the game.
The Williams-fueled ground game allowed the Bucs to control the clock 36:01 to 23:59 to help key the win.
Williams was also a factor in the passing game, too. After dropping several passes over the past three weeks in games at New York, against New Orleans and at Carolina, Williams caught every ball thrown his way and finished the game with two catches for 34 yards, including a season-long 21-yard reception.
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