Buccaneers wide receiver Ike Hilliard sustained a concussion after taking a huge hit from Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill in the second quarter...
TAMPA — Buccaneers wide receiver Ike Hilliard sustained a concussion after taking a huge hit from Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill in the second quarter.
Hilliard crumpled to the turf and looked to be unconscious after making a 4-yard catch to the Seahawks’ 4-yard line. Hill’s hit, replays showed, was under Hilliard’s chin.
Hilliard crumpled to the turf in the second quarter after a fierce hit by Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill.
The hit was so powerful that Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who was in on the play, suffered a concussion, too, and had to leave the game. Hilliard had to be taken off the field on a cart after a five-minute delay, and neither he nor Tatupu returned.
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“I went and apologized to him,” Hill said of Hilliard. “When I looked at him he was out. I didn’t mean for it to happen like that. But that’s the game.”
Hill’s hit could get the NFL’s attention and result in a fine.
“I can’t gauge if it was a high [hit] or not,” Hill said. “That’s the game. Like I said, I apologized and that’s it. I’ll have to look at the tape.”
The Seahawks ended up getting the ball. Officials ruled it a catch and down by contact at first, but Seattle challenged the ruling and it was overturned to a fumble, recovered by Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson.
“I was right there, so I could see that he fumbled it when he was still up,” Wilson said. “I could see he [Hilliard] was dinged.”
Three happy returns
But two unhappy results. Rookie Justin Forsett, playing in his first game as a Seahawk, returned a kick 24 yards and cornerback Josh Wilson ran back another kick 61 yards, but neither resulted in points.
Quarterback Seneca Wallace threw an interception after Forsett’s return, and a bad exchange between Wallace and center Chris Spencer resulted in a fumble in Tama Bay territory after Wilson’s return.
Forsett added a 24-yard punt return that led to a field goal in the third quarter
“It was just good to get back out there,” Forsett said. “The comfort level is definitely high now. All we can do is, when we get the ball, try to do the best we can with it.”
long road back
On a night when many Seahawks backups saw quality playing time, perhaps no one waited longer to get into a game than Will Herring.
The second-year linebacker wasn’t credited with a tackle, but he played on special teams in his first game since the 2007 regular-season finale.
Herring was on the physically-unable-to-perform list with chronic knee joint inflammation until last week, then practiced and was activated for Sunday night’s game.
“It felt real good to get back out there with the guys,” Herring said. “Somebody got me good one time out there on kickoff return, but that’s going to happen. Tampa’s a good team.”
Herring said after the game he felt fine.
Darryl Tapp made his first start at defensive end in place of Lawrence Jackson and Jordan Babineaux opened the game at right cornerback. Babineaux was the third Seahawk to start at the spot this season, joining Kelly Jennings and Wilson.
Rookie defensive tackle Red Bryant, playing in his first game since the season opener, got some snaps beginning very early in the game. Ray Willis got in at right tackle for a couple of series, in place of Sean Locklear. Jordan Kent played his first game since Buffalo in Week One, and D.D. Lewis, normally a special-teams player, played most of the game at middle linebacker when Tatupu went out.
“It was just one of those things that you have to press through,” Lewis, who took a shot to his left knee in the game, said.
Buccaneers fans paid tribute to one of the franchise’s most popular players, former fullback Mike Alstott, who spent all 11 of his NFL seasons in Tampa Bay. Alstott rushed for 5,088 yards and scored 71 touchdowns in his career. He was named to six Pro Bowls and was a three-time first-team All-Pro.
Alstott, who officially retired from the NFL in January, was introduced with the Bucs’ starting lineup and ran out onto the field, and was saluted with a standing ovation as he joined the team captains for the pregame coin toss.
At halftime, Alstott was honored in a ceremony on the field, presented with a pair of framed jerseys. One was in the original Bucs orange and cream, and the other in pewter and red, the current version.
Before he could get going on his acceptance speech, the crowd at Raymond James Stadium chanted his last name.
“I love you, and I will miss you,” Alstott told the crowd. “I appreciate it.”
• Joining Matt Hasselbeck on the list of those inactive for the game were WR Deion Branch, who missed his fifth game of the season; K Brandon Coutu, CB Kevin Hobbs, OL Mansfield Wrotto, TE Will Heller, DE Baraka Atkins and DT Howard Green. Green was inactive for the first time this season, as were Hobbs and Heller, who has a knee injury.
• Holmgren said there’s a chance Hasselbeck could be back for the game at San Francisco this Sunday.
Freelance reporter Steve Isbitts contributed to this report.