TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Carnell “Cadillac” Williams shrugged off a sprained foot and insisted on finishing the game.
Several broken tackles and dozens of yards later, any questions about the rookie’s toughness or ability to handle a heavy workload for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been answered.
“Coming out of halftime, it felt like I couldn’t go. Then once I told coach (Jon) Gruden I wanted to go, they still wouldn’t let me go,” Williams said. “I had to kind of stress the point, `I’m going.”’
Williams carried 24 times for 128 yards and one touchdown. The performance followed a 148-yard, 27-carry debut that raised questions about whether Gruden called on Williams too much in a season-opening victory at Minnesota.
“I should be fine,” Williams said of his sore left foot, adding that the rest of his body is holding up to the physical pounding, too.
“I’m definitely in pain, but you never feel good,” he added. “I’m always going to hurt.”
Tampa Bay’s defense scored on a safety and was every bit as tough on Losman as they’ve been on a list of young quarterbacks that includes Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper in recent years.
Losman completed 12 of 29 passes for 113 yards in his first NFL road start. The second-year quarterback didn’t have any turnovers for the second week in a row, but never came close to getting Buffalo’s offense in synch.
“It’s a humbling experience. We came in high as a kite, and everyone was telling us how good we are. We met a team that matched us in intensity and physicalness,” Losman said.
Willis McGahee was held to 34 yards rushing on 13 carries after gaining 117 in the Bills’ 22-7 season-opening victory over Houston. Star receiver Eric Moulds had one catch for 8 yards as Tampa Bay’s defense held the opposition without an offensive touchdown for the second game in a row.
The closest Buffalo (1-1) came to getting into the end zone was in the closing minutes, when Losman led a drive to the Tampa Bay 4. A penalty for an illegal forward pass knocked the Bills back to the 9, and the march stalled when Derrick Brooks batted down a pass intended for Moulds on fourth down.
“They had a good scheme. They knew where we would be and they watched my eyes the whole game,” said Losman, who was benched for one series in the fourth quarter before returning after backup Kelly Holcomb completed 2 of 3 passes for minus-1 yard.
“I put Kelly in to see if we would get a spark,” Buffalo coach Mike Mularkey said. “We had to try to get something going before it was too late.”
Williams had runs of 31, 23 and 19 yards, the latter on his first carry after sitting two series with a sprained left foot. He finished that drive with a 3-yard TD run, then broke two tackles on the 31-yard burst that set up Matt Bryant’s 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
“He gets stronger as the game goes on, and if his foot arch isn’t a problem he’ll continue to prove what I believe,” Gruden said. “He has intense stamina. This guy is a workaholic and he is at best when a game is on the line.”
Losman threw for 170 yards and a touchdown without any turnovers in Buffalo’s win over Houston, but his inexperience showed against a defense that used as many as six backs to frustrate him in obvious passing situations.
The Bucs set the tone by nearly intercepting Losman three times in the first quarter, then positioned themselves to snap a scoreless tie when Juran Bolden downed Josh Bidwell’s punt at the Buffalo 1 early in the second quarter.
Losman was flushed out of the pocket on third-and-7, but couldn’t get a pass away before stepping out of the back of the end zone with linebacker Shelton Quarles and safety Jermaine Phillips in close pursuit.
The Bills, who lost for only the third time in their last 12 games, averted a shutout with Rian Lindell’s 40-yard field goal in the second quarter. They finished with 145 yards, with much of it coming on their last drive.
“It was a good lesson. … A wake-up call,” Bills coach Mike Mularkey said. “Teams will be prepared when we step on the field.”
Bills WR Josh Reed had six receptions for 71 yards. … Buffalo had 77 yards total offense before gaining 68 on its last possession. … Quarles was credited with a sack on the safety. DE Simeon Rice had Tampa Bay’s other sack. … The Bills didn’t report any injuries during the game.