Steve DeBerg threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Adger Armstrong and Donald Igwebuike kicked three long field goals today to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first victory of the NFL season, a 16-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals.
James Wilder ran for 120 yards on 29 carries and DeBerg completed 11 of 27 passes for 196 yards as the Buccaneers ended a nine-game losing streak and handed the 4-6 Cardinals their fifth loss in six games.
The win was only the ninth for Tampa Bay in its last 42 games and was the first for the franchise under Coach Leeman Bennett, who replaced John McKay after last season.
It also was only the second shutout in the Buccaneers' 10-year history. The other was a 3-0 victory over Kansas City in 1979.
"It's been a long time coming and the football team had battled hard every Sunday," Bennett said. "I'm very proud of those guys that fought all year. I am very, very happy and I'm going to enjoy this at least for a little while."
"It was something we should have had weeks ago," Buccaneers nose tackle David Logan said. "It was a good one . . . I just want six more."
Igwebuike, a native of Nigeria who played football and soccer at Clemson, kicked field goals of 46, 47 and 50 yards.
The rookie place-kicker's 47-yarder with 4:12 left in the first period gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead, and DeBerg's scoring pass to Armstrong on fourth down completed a 10-play, 72-yard drive that made it 10-0 early in the second quarter.
DeBerg helped the touchdown drive with completions of 10 and 35 yards to tight end Jimmie Giles, who caught six passes for a career-high 134 yards.
A pass interference call in the end zone against St. Louis cornerback Cedric Mack set up the score, giving Tampa Bay a first down at the one-yard line after a holding penalty had pushed the Buccaneers back to the 23.
Igwebuike, who missed a 43-yarder to end a string of eight consecutive successful attempts, added his field goals of 46 and 50 yards in the fourth quarter. The latter came with 8:07 to go and gave him three field goals of 50 yards or longer this season.
St. Louis, coming off a 21-10 victory over Dallas, sputtered offensively all day long as quarterback Neal Lomax completed 21 of 33 passes for 197 yards and was intercepted twice.
Former Maryland kicker Jess Atkinson missed field goal attempts of 45 and 42 yards for St. Louis, and the Buccaneers' defense preserved the shutout by recovering Ottis Anderson's fumble at the Tampa Bay 10 with 6:08 to go.
Anderson, who was playing with an ailing foot, suffered an apparent injury to his left knee on the play and was wheeled from the field.
St. Louis all-pro receiver Roy Green missed the game with an injury and starting tackle Tootie Robbins played sparingly.
"The Bucs scrambled, they hung in there and did the things it takes to win," St. Louis Coach Jim Hanifan said. "We moved the ball between the 20s, but each time we got down there we didn't execute."