TAMPA, Fla. – Ricky Williams is back, but it could be some time before the Miami Dolphins can boast the same about their offense.

Michael Pittman ran for 127 yards and a touchdown Sunday, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 27-13 victory that ruined Williams’ return from a one-year retirement and four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The enigmatic running back who spent his year away from football traveling and studying yoga and holistic medicine appeared in his first regular-season game since December 2003, starting alongside rookie Ronnie Brown.

Neither runner had much success against Tampa Bay’s defense, which limited the Dolphins (2-3) to 64 yards rushing and created plenty of problems for Gus Frerotte, too, sacking the quarterback four times and forcing him to fumble twice. Frerotte completed 21 of 43 passes for 267 yards and no interceptions.

Pittman, filling in for injured rookie Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, scored on a 57-yard run in the third quarter.

Brian Griese threw a 7-yard TD pass to Joey Galloway before leaving the game with a sprained left knee, and safety Will Allen scooped up one of Frerotte’s two fumbles and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown that put Tampa Bay up 27-6.

Matt Bryant added field goals of 36 and 32 yards to help the Bucs (5-1) rebound from a 14-12 loss to the New York Jets.

Ricky Williams was held to 8 yards rushing on five attempts, and his best run of the day – 13 yards in the second quarter – was nullified by a penalty. The 2002 rushing champion caught a team-high six passes but never really got into the flow of the offense.

The Bucs limited Miami to a pair of field goals by Olindo Mare until Channing Crowder recovered a fumble to set up Brown’s 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Brown finished with 22 yards on nine carries.

Tampa Bay played without Cadillac Williams, who sat out for the second straight week with a sprained left foot. The Bucs lost Griese in the second quarter when linebacker Zach Thomas rolled into his leg as the quarterback released a pass, and Chris Simms came on in relief.

Cadillac’s absence meant that a long-awaited matchup between two of the first five players selected in this year’s draft never materialized. He and Brown were teammates at Auburn, sharing the Tigers’ rushing workload for four years.

Griese completed 12 of 16 passes for 120 yards before leaving the game, with eight of his completions going to Galloway, who finished with nine receptions for 96 yards. Simms went 6-of-10 for 69 yards.

The Dolphins hurt themselves with 18 penalties and five turnovers in a six-point loss to Buffalo the previous week and continued to undermine themselves with costly mistakes against the Bucs.

A holding call against center Seth McKinney wiped out Chris Chambers’ 34-yard for an apparent touchdown in the first quarter, and Frerotte missed several open receivers for potential big gains that could have swing the momentum to Miami before the Bucs pulled away.

Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor missed part of the first quarter with a foot injury, but was able to return.

AP-ES-10-16-05 1647EDT


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