Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia couldn't bend over to pick up his towel in the locker room and will have a sore back on Monday after gutting through a 19-13 win vs. Washington. Garcia left after the third play of the first offensive series of the game with a back injury and didn't return until early in the fourth quarter.
Garcia struggled in the two series that he had in the fourth quarter and knows that this week is all about rest and treatment. He must be ready for next week as the Bucs travel on the road vs. New Orleans, a game that will ultimately decide the NFC South.
"I am sore right now. It was a painful day, but one that we can fortunately smile about with the outcome of the game," Garcia said. "I just took a shot in the lower back, right between the rib cage and the hip bone, almost like a kidney shot and it was pretty deep."
On the first play of the game, Garcia scrambled out of the pocket and tried to get some yards up field. The nine-year veteran was tackled by Washington defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, who planted his helmet between Garcia's ribs and hip. Garcia was slow to get up after the hit and had to come out of the game two plays later.
"Well I think it was the first play of the game. It's a lower back bruise, we're calling it. He's tough as hell. He wanted to go back in and play several times but he just didn't have the mobility," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. "He just didn't look right on the sidelines. It's a credit to him. He kept loosening himself up. He felt he could go in and finish a football game. He's a tough customer. It was tough sledding today obviously, and we hope to have him next week against the Saints."
Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski came into the game, but was ineffective running the offense, especially throwing the ball. Gradkowski finished the game 9-for-19 with 106 yards, but missed open receivers several times throughout the game. The Bucs offense was only able to score one touchdown despite getting the ball inside the Redskins' 35-yard line four times on defensive turnovers in the first half.
Garcia went through stretching, throwing and running for two and a half quarters to somehow get himself healthy enough to go back into the game. He realized that the offense was struggling without him and wanted to provide a spark as a leader for the Bucs.
"I just felt like at the time when I went in that the offense needed some sort of a spark. That's not taking anything away from Bruce [Gradkowski] because he played his tail off and he did the best he could do out there on the field," Garcia said. "We just needed something. As much as I didn't necessarily go in and create a first down or anything like that, I felt like I needed to be out there for the guys."
Garcia finished the game 2-for-4 for nine yards and was unable to move the ball late in the fourth quarter to run out the clock. With all the injuries that the Bucs have sustained this year, the one constant has been Garcia. The Bucs can't afford to lose Garcia as they make their final push toward the NFC South division title and a playoff berth. Sunday's victory vs. Washington was proof that the engine that runs the Bucs offense is Garcia and they will sputter without him in the game.
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