One week after getting toasted by the Cowboys, the Buccaneers' Sabby Piscitelli burned the Bills twice Sunday. First was a 72-yard fumble recovery that led to a touchdown and helped get his team back in the game just before halftime. That was followed by a third-quarter interception at the Bucs 6 that kept Tampa Bay's hopes alive. The performance came on the heels of a forgettable effort in the season opener against Dallas, when Piscitelli was victimized on a pair of long touchdown passes by Tony Romo. That put the third-year safety on the hot seat Sunday, but he met the challenge. The Bucs were trailing 20-7 with less than a minute left in the first half, and the Bills were poised to widen their lead. But on second and 10 from the Tampa Bay 14, Ronde Barber tackled running back Fred Jackson from behind. The ball popped loose and right into the arms of Piscitelli, who raced down the sideline.
It looked as if he might score. But fleet wideout Roscoe Parrish closed the gap and dragged him down 8 yards shy of the goal line.
Instead, he had to settle for the third-longest fumble return in franchise history.
One play later, Byron Leftwich completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cadillac Williams with 32 seconds left to cut the Bucs' deficit to 20-14.
Piscitelli's pick - accompanied by a lateral to linebacker Barrett Ruud - came after the Bills moved to the Bucs 32 in the third quarter and the score still 20-14.
The two big plays weren't enough to secure the win. Nor was Piscitelli in the mood to dwell on them after the game.
On the fumble return:
It really doesn't matter. It wasn't good enough. We didn't win. The secondary didn't get it done. Ronde did a great job of hitting that ball out. And I was pursuing the ball, trying to make a play. And our offense did a great job of capitalizing.
On what it means after a tough week of criticism:
Nothing at all. We didn't win. We just have to stay level and not ride that emotional roller coaster. Keep working. Keep trying to get better every day. ... We didn't get it done in the secondary. We didn't get it done in a lot of areas. We just have to go to the film and correct our mistakes and get ready for our first win.
On getting caught from behind by Parrish:
I ran a 4.41 (in the 40-yard dash) at the (scouting) combine. I'm just glad we put it in the end zone.
On the run defense:
I think we could improve in every area. Everybody needs to evaluate themselves and improve. You have to take your hat off to their running back (Fred Jackson). He did a great job.
On why Buffalo had so much success running the ball:
He's a really good back. We just have to analyze our problem, fix it and come out next week ready to adjust. No excuses. We just didn't get it done defensively or offensively.
Going a long way the other way
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Longest fumble returns in Bucs history (all touchdowns except Piscitelli's):
Cedric Brown, safety................80.....Oct. 19, 1980....Oilers
Martin Mayhew, cornerback.....78.....Oct. 15, 1995....Vikings
Sabby Piscitelli, safety..............72....Sunday...............Bills
David Logan, defensive tackle...60...Dec. 14, 1980....Lions
Hugh Green, linebacker............60...Jan. 9, 1983.......Cowboys