QB Trent Dilfer may miss the rest of the season
It was at once an important victory and a costly loss. Tampa Bay prevailed 16-3 in Seattle to remain tied for first in the NFC Central, but in the process lost its starting quarterback to a broken right clavicle.
Dilfer suffered the injury just seconds into the third quarter on the fourth of the four times he was sacked. Dilfer was ridden hard to the turf by DE Phillip Daniels and did not immediately get up. He was helped off the field and into the locker room by trainers, and was replaced on the field by rookie Shaun King.
"The play was like a quarterback's worst nightmare," said Dilfer after the game. "It was a rollout, on artificial turf, and I got driven into the ground. I really don't know how long I'll be out. Could be two weeks, could be five weeks, I don't know."
Midway through the third period, word arrived from the X-ray room that Dilfer had suffered a broken clavicle. Buccaneer doctors predicted a longer recovery time, suggesting Dilfer could take four to eight weeks to heal. Head Coach Tony Dungy did not think Dilfer would be able to return this season.
It marked the second significant injury by a Buccaneer quarterback in a little over a month. Eric Zeier had been named the starter over Dilfer six weeks into the season and played the entire October 31 game, a 20-3 loss at Detroit. However, Zeier suffered a ribcage cartilage injury in that game and has been sidelined ever since, opening the door for Dilfer to return. Dilfer then led the Buccaneers on a three-game winning streak with strong performances at New Orleans and at home against Kansas City and Atlanta.
Next week's game will mark the first Dilfer has missed due to injury since opening the 1995 season, his second as a pro, as the team's starter. Buccaneer Head Coach Tony Dungy has not yet determined if Zeier or King will replace Dilfer next week for Tampa Bay's Monday Night Football contest against the Minnesota Vikings in Raymond James Stadium.