It was a rude homecoming of sorts Sunday for Tampa Bay tailback Gary Anderson. He gained just 26 yards on 10 carries, did not catch a pass and was no factor against his former team, the San Diego Chargers. It was no coincidence the Bucs lost. But Anderson's thoughts quickly turned from losing to the world of 2 a.m. feedings. His wife Ollie was close to giving birth to the couple's third child.
"I'm just trying to get back home," Anderson said. "They called and said she was in pains, so I hope that we can get back in time. They said she was getting there. The pains were a lot more regular. I hope I can get back in time before she has it."
The timing was all wrong for Anderson on Sunday. With Tampa Bay quickly falling into a 14-0 hole, the Bucs had to nearly abandon the running game.
Anderson, who played four seasons in San Diego before sitting out last year in a contract dispute, found little room to run when the Bucs did call his number.
"They had people chasing my tail off," Anderson said. "They had people blitzing, and it was more their quickness than anything.
"We were behind from the jump. We wanted to mix it up more, but we had to go to a lot more passes and stuff. It's kind of hard to get cranked up when they know you're going to throw all the time."
If any team was aware of what Anderson can do, it's the Chargers. San Diego's defense strung out plays and stayed in their lanes, preventing Anderson from cutting back. His longest carry Sunday was 7 yards.
"We wanted to gang-tackle him and hold him to no big gains," said Chargers linebacker Leslie O'Neal. "We wanted to get people in his face, so if he shook off one guy, there would be another right there to make the tackle. I'm sure it was frustrating for him. I'm sure he wanted to come in here and play well against his old teammates."
However, Anderson, who was traded for a third-round draft pick in 1991 and a conditional second-round pick in 1992, was not concerned with having a 100-yard game.
"The first thing is that we really wanted to get back on the winning track," Anderson said. "In doing that, you'd like to have a good game when you go back to where you played. But the big thing on my mind was getting a W."
Or at least it was until Sunday night, when the big thing on Anderson's mind was getting home to his wife and perhaps a new child.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
The San Diego Chargers were well aware of what Gary Anderson can do on a football field. Anderson was a standout for four seasons with the Chargers. The San Diego defense, however, limited Anderson to 26 yards on 10 rushes. He did not catch a pass. Here's a look at what Anderson did in his four years in San Diego.
Year Att Yds Avg TDs
1985 116 429 3.7 4
1986 127 442 3.5 1
1987 80 260 3.3 3
1988 225 1119 5.0 3
Year Rec Yds Avg TDs
1985 35 422 12.1 2
1986 80 871 10.9 8
1987 47 503 10.7 2
1988 32 182 5.7 0
Two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be proud of their care of the football. Lately, the Bucs can't hold onto it. Look at the numbers, Tampa Bay vs. the opposition.
First six games
Fumble recoveries 6-6
Win-loss 4- 2
Last two games
Fumble recoveries 1-5