Michael Pittman is the first Buc running back in four years to win Player of the Week
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suspected they would need everything in their arsenal to outlast the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Turns out they had a weapon that couldn't be matched: The NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
That honor was bestowed upon running back Michael Pittman on Wednesday in recognition of his career day in the Bucs' 34-31 shootout win over the Chiefs. Pittman ran 15 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns and added two receptions for 30 yards as the Bucs compiled season highs in points, first downs (23) and total yards (418).
Pittman's top play of the day was a 78-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half, a simple sweep left that turned into the longest rush in franchise history when he shot through a gap near the right sideline and outraced the rest of the Chiefs' defense to the end zone. Pittman also scored on two shorter runs, a second-effort, one-yard carry on fourth down in the second quarter and a three-yard dive over the pylon in the fourth quarter that provided the game-winning points.
Pittman tied the team record for rushing touchdowns in a single game, a mark accomplished on four other occasions. He also became the first Tampa Bay back in almost four years to post consecutive 100-yard games, following Warrick Dunn's feat late in the 2000 season.
Pittman beat out an impressive field of candidates for the Week Nine award, including but not limited to Seattle running back Shaun Alexander (160 rushing yards, two touchdowns), Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme (299 passing yards, three touchdowns), Seattle wide receiver Darrell Jackson (114 receiving yards, two touchdowns) and even teammate Brian Griese (296 passing yards, two touchdowns). In so doing, Pittman became the first Buccaneer to win a Player of the Week award this season.
Pittman is also the first Buccaneer running back to be so honored since Dunn in 2000. All three Offensive Player of the Week awards won since Dunn's victory after his three-touchdown game against St. Louis that season were taken by quarterback Brad Johnson. Defensive Player of the Week awards have been much more common for Buc players, 16 in the past six years, in fact.
Pittman could have a trio of honors before the week is up. In addition to his award from the NFL, he is also in the running for the Levitra Play of the Week and the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week. Both of these awards are determined by fan voting at NFL.com.
Pittman's 78-yard touchdown run is one of five plays nominated for Play of the Week, competing against touchdown catches by Cincinnati's Matt Schobel and Seattle's Koren Robinson, a touchdown run by Chicago's Anthony Thomas and an interception-return touchdown by Baltimore's Ed Reed.
Click here to cast your vote for Pittman to win Play of the Week.
In the Ground Player of the Week competition, Pittman has two competitors: Alexander and Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis.
Click here to cast your vote for Pittman to win Ground NFL Player of the Week.