FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Simeon Rice and record books seem to be synonymous, and the Bucs defensive end landed there again Saturday.
Rice notched his 10th sack of the season, giving the 10-year veteran his eighth season with 10 or more; tied for fifth most in NFL history. Rice has reached double digits in sacks five consecutive seasons dating to his first season with the Bucs in 2001.
The eight seasons ties Rice with Richard Dent, Chris Doleman and Leslie O'Neal. Bruce Smith leads with 13. The only drawback was the circumstances during which the record was achieved: a loss.
"It's hard to come out and perform like that for a long time," Rice said. "But at this point, with a victory, it would have been really big.
"But we still have to grind ahead. Personally, (the numbers) matter from an interest factor. But from an overall perspective, they don't (in terms of) what we're trying to accomplish. It's about the team situation right now."
Since 2002, Rice leads active players with 521/2 sacks followed by Michael Strahan's 45.
NOT THERE YET: Cadillac Williams came into the game needing 76 yards to reach 1,000, but he was held well short with 23 on 14 carries. It was his lowest output since Nov.13, when he was held to 20 yards against Washington.
But Williams' performance was probably more surprising in light of his recent play. Williams had rushed for 408 yards in his past four games, an average of 102. But the Patriots defense, led by stellar linebacker play, proved too much.
"It just seemed like those guys were everywhere," Williams said. "They had a good scheme. I just want to tip my hat. They're the best defense we've played. We've played some pretty good defenses. You can put them up there with the best of them."
So tough was the Patriots' defense that Williams had nine carries of 2 yards or fewer, finishing at 1.6 yards per carry. That was Williams' lowest since 1.5 against San Francisco on Oct.30, his first game back from a foot injury.
NOT A TOUGH CALL: The Bucs' deepest penetration into New England territory came in the third quarter, when they reached the 33. But the drive fizzled on consecutive incomplete passes to Joey Galloway.
Coach Jon Gruden bristled when asked about his decision to go to Galloway on third and 1 and fourth and 1. "It might have been 1 yard to you looking at the scoreboard, but it was almost 2 yards," Gruden said. "I thought we had a couple of good looks in the passing game. We had Galloway twice, and we don't make the play.
"It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes."
Galloway had a good chance to make the catch on fourth down but dropped the ball.
A RECURRING THEME: The Bucs have had their share of dropped passes this season, and they had two critical ones Saturday.
Galloway's drop on the fourth-down play ended a scoring chance, and he had an earlier pass that could have been construed as a drop. Ike Hilliard also had a drop.
"It's a situation where everybody has to be accountable for their own actions on the field," said Michael Clayton, who has dropped some passes this season. "Everybody has a different way of settling that score.
"We have to put ourselves in position to catch the football, and hopefully it'll pass."
McFARLAND NONCOMMITTAL: Injured defensive tackle Anthony McFarland (hamstring) was noncommittal when asked if he would be ready for Saturday's home game against Atlanta. He did say he believed there was some chance he could play against New England, but his injury did not make enough improvement.
"It's about coming back from this loss right now," McFarland said.
In his absence, Ellis Wyms made his first career start and finished with five tackles.
ET CETERA: Josh Bidwell's streak of 14 games with a punt of 50 or more yards ended, though just barely. Bidwell had two of 49 yards. ... Fullback Mike Alstott moved up to fifth in receptions in franchise history with 279. Alstott is tied with Jimmie Giles. ... Linebacker Marquis Cooper (chest strain) was inactive for the third straight game.