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Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Bucs bit by injuries during stunning loss


TAMPA, Florida - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to defend their Super Bowl title without Mike Alstott.

The team on Tuesday placed their six-time Pro Bowl fullback on injured reserve, ending his season, with a neck injury.

Alstott has been bothered by neck soreness for the last few weeks and aggravated the injury in Monday's 38-35 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He had two catches for 25 yards and rushed three times for one yard in the loss.

On Tuesday morning, Bucs coach Jon Gruden announced Alstott would miss this weekend's game against Washington. But later in the day, Gruden decided to shut down Alstott for the rest of the season.

"It's unfortunate that I suffered an injury and will be unable to help my teammates win another championship this year," said Alstott. "I am going to turn all of my attention to getting better, and the doctors and everyone that I have consulted with, fully expect me to be in a Buccaneer uniform next season."

Alstott, 29, is the team's all-time leader with 59 touchdowns and 47 rushing touchdowns. He had 27 carries for 77 yards and caught 10 passes for 83 yards this season.

In his eighth year with the Bucs, the 6-1, 248-pound Alstott is known for his durability at a physically demanding position. He has missed just four games since entering the league in 1996.

The Bucs may also be without cornerback Brian Kelly and receiver Keyshawn Johnson for this weekend's game at Washington.

Kelly suffered a left pectoral strain in Monday's loss and is listed as doubtful. His absence was especially damaging when the Buccaneers squandered a 21-point lead with less than four minutes left. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning exploited Tim Wansley, who replaced Kelly at left cornerback.

Kelly led the Bucs with eight interceptions last season.

Johnson suffered a left thigh bruise in the second half. He has 21 catches for 272 yards this season.

Johnson led the Bucs last season with 76 catches for 1,088 yards to go along with five touchdowns. He had a career-high 106 catches for 1,266 yards, but only one touchdown in 2001.