Josh Bidwell's clutch punt in the fourth quarter helped keep Green Bay away from the Bucs' end zone
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hadn't won in Lambeau Field since 1989. Josh Bidwell hadn't been back to that stadium since he left the Green Bay Packers for the Bucs after the 2003 season.
Both left Lambeau with a prize on Sunday.
The Bucs earned a 17-16 win to stay undefeated and break their Lambeau draught and Bidwell, in recognition of his outstanding efforts in that victory, has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
In the game, Bidwell punted six times for 284 yards, compiling outstanding gross and net averages of 47.3 and 40.2. He was a key element in the Bucs' ability to keep the Packers to an average drive start of their own 29-yard line.
In the first quarter, Bidwell's first punt of the day was boomed 57 yards, pinning Green Bay at its own 10-yard line. His last kick was equally important, a 47-yarder out of the Bucs' own end zone midway through the fourth quarter. That kick was high and deep enough to allow Tampa Bay's cover men to stop punt returner Antonio Chatman at the 50-yard line and eventually turn back the Packers' last scoring threat.
Only the second Buccaneer punter ever to win that award, joining Tom Tupa in Week Three of 2003, Bidwell had the added pleasure of earning it against his former teammates. A fourth-round draft pick in 1999, Bidwell missed his rookie season due to a battle with testicular cancer, but he handled the punting duties for the Packers from 2000-03 and is the fifth-leading punter (gross average) in Green Bay franchise history.
In 2004, Bidwell signed with the Buccaneers and immediately gave them one of their best seasons by a punter ever, with a gross average of 42.3 and a net of 36.8, both roughly a yard better than his career marks. He has started off 2005 even more impressively. After an almost ridiculously good preseason (53.0 gross, 44.2 net), Bidwell has continued to boom the ball through three regular season games, averaging 46.8 yards per kick and compiling a net average of 38.1. He currently ranks second in the NFL in gross average behind Minnesota rookie Chris Kluwe (49.9).
Bidwell's long punt of the year so far is a 61-yarder. He has dropped three kicks inside the 10 while suffering three touchbacks. Bidwell has also served as the holder for all of Matt Bryant's placekicks, helping Bryant remain perfect on three field goal tries and seven extra point attempts.
Bidwell is the Bucs' second conference Player of the Week award winner of the young season, following linebacker Shelton Quarles' defensive accolades last week. He is the first Buc to be honored for special teams contributions since Tupa in 2003. The Bucs won only two Player of the Week awards last season (Michael Pittman, offense, Week Nine and Derrick Brooks, defense, Week 13).
Caddy Drawing the Votes
In other weekly award news, rookie running back Cadillac Williams seems well on his way to his third straight NFL Rookie of the Week award, as voted on by fans.
Williams took that honor after Weeks One and Two and is the clear leader in the votes so far in Week Three. The balloting, which runs through Thursday afternoon, had attracted just under 20,000 voters as of Wednesday morning, and Williams had received 71% of the votes. That easily outdistanced his former Auburn teammate, Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, who had 15% of the votes at the time.
To vote for NFL Rookie of the Week, please click here.