NFL news of December 4, 2002

Here’s one statistic that doesn’t bode well for Tampa Bay — the Bucs have fallen to 31st (second to last) in NFL team rushing.

The Bucs are averaging just 87.4 yards rushing per game. Last year, the Bucs finished with an 85.7 yard average.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden knows that 87.4 yards rushing will get him nowhere in the postseason, even if the Bucs do manage to secure home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

The Bucs hit a season low Sunday night, held to just 34 yards in 16 carries on the ground in the 23-20 loss to New Orleans.

Two plays epitomized Tampa Bay’s plight. For all the talk about “pounding the rock,” Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott was stuffed twice on running attempts after the Bucs lined up at first and goal from the Saints’ 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay has gained more than 100 yards only three times in 12 games.

—Tom Baralog, The Sarasota Herald Tribune “Gruden disappointed with lack of a running game”
The Bucs had over 100 yards rushing in three of their final four games of the 2002 regular season, including 2 games with 150 or more yards. In three playoff games, they rushed for more than 100 yards twice, with Michael Pittman carrying 29 times for 124 yards in their Super Bowl win over the Oakland Raiders.

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