Lest you forgot about him

Mike Alsott contributes a touchdown to the Bucs 19-3 victory over Buffalo. It was his 50th rushing touchdown since joining Tampa Bay.

Published September 18, 2005

TAMPA - It was a familiar sight, and a welcome one for Buc fans who haven't forgotten him.

Late in the second quarter Sunday, fullback Mike Alsott took a handoff near the goal line and bulled his way into Buffalo's end zone for a touchdown. And the crowd at Raymond James Stadium went bonkers.

Old No. 40's 1-yard score wasn't significant just because it was the 50th rushing touchdown in his 10-year career with Tampa Bay.

More important, it was a reminder that he still has a key part to play in the Buc running game, after two largely frustrating, injury-plagued seasons when he totaled only two touchdowns in each.

The rushing show may belong to rookie tailback Cadillac Williams now. But Alstott's role still features his pounding, punishing runs - the kind that helped the Bucs open up a 9-0 lead as halftime approached and eat up valuable time as the game wound down.

His final rushing statistics didn't look particularly dazzling - six rushes for 19 yards, with a long of 9 yards - but they underscored the fact that he still has a role to play.

"Yeah, when it goes like that," he said with a laugh. "It was a great day. Everybody got involved. It reminds of 2002, when everybody got involved in the running and passing game. And then getting down to the goal line, and being able to take some time off the clock at the end. It felt good to be out there again in front of our crowd, and play a very good defensive front and do some good things."

Alsott couldn't say enough about the good things done by Williams, who rushed for 128 yards on 24 carries. "I see a kid who can do it all. He can go up the middle with power, and obviously he can hit the edge and run his 4.3 speed. He's a special kid and he's showing what he can do right now."

Alstott, of course, wasn't the only member of the running back to contribute valuable yardage against the Bills in the 19-3 victory. Michael Pittman carried seven times for 46 yards, including a long of 24, while also catching three passes for 20 yards.

"My role is what it is - I'm asked to do a lot of stuff: play fullback, play receiver, and I get my touches whenever I can at running back," he said. "The coaches ask me to do everything, and as a player, you just accept that challenge. I'm willing to do anything I can to help this team win. As long as I'm on the field and contributing, I feel good."

So does offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker, who likes how Alstott and Pittman are rounding out Williams-led attack. "No. 40 still excites me," he said. "And whenever you have him back there, it's going to be scary. And with the combination of him, Cadillac and Pittman, man, we have a three-headed monster."

As for notching his 50th rushing TD, Alstott, 31, was asked what it meant to him.

"I'm old," he quipped.

He downplayed the number ("A landmark? No, I need more") and instead showered credit on the offensive line. Still, there was no missing the affection showered by the crowd on Alstott on Sunday - a sentiment he shares.

"The fans mean everything," he said. "These fans have been like family my whole career. The support through the good times and especially through the rough times. I couldn't ask for anything more."