TAMPA - Tom Cable, the Raiders interim head coach, would love to become the Raiders head coach.
But he's ready if that doesn't happen.
"It would be tough but that's life and that's football," Cable said after the Raiders beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-24, to knock the Bucs out of the playoffs.
A few players think Cable did enough to earn the job, as they all know, their opinion doesn't matter.
The final say belongs to team owner Al Davis, who didn't make the trip as he continues to recover from a knee injury suffered earlier this month in San Diego.
"If (Davis) wants to ask or if he's interested in our opinion, I'm sure any man in this locker room would vouch for (Cable)," said running back Justin Fargas. "From just the way he's treated us with respect and raised our expectations."
The offensive line already knew how good Cable was at motivating players and building up battered psyches.
And Cable's effect started to show as the season progressed.
Players that were called out for being unable to understand the offense (Johnnie Lee Higgins) or useless (Mario Henderson) began to find their stride under Cable.
As linebacker Kirk Morrison said after the game, it's a shame it took the team this long to find it's identity.
"He's passionate about football," said guard Robert Gallery, who has become a Pro Bowl-caliber player under Cable. "I think it was a good change for us. I hope to have the opportunity to work with him next year."
Cable said he began feeling comfortable in the last six weeks (around the time the Raiders won in Denver) and that there isn't much else he can do to sway Davis.
Meanwhile, Davis' son, Mark, beamed while shaking hands after watching the Raiders knock send former coach Jon Gruden home for the offseason.
"It's all I can do," Cable said. "It's the best I can do. I certainly know I put this team together and got it going in the right directed and proved that today."
*Michael Bush ran for 129 yards in the fourth quarter and finished with 177 yards, seventh-most in team history, just behind the 179 by Justin Fargas last year in Miami.
If not for injuries to Fargas (knee) and Darren McFadden (ankle), Bush wouldn't have carried the ball as much as he did (27 times), if at all.
He had only four carries for four yards in his previous six games.
Bush hopes the way he played today will be enough to convince his next coach - or Cable if he's back - that he is a tailback and not a fullback.
"Bush's 129 yards rushing in fourth quarter are most for a Raider since
at least 1991 and third most in the NFL in that span.
Minnesota's Adrian Peterson had 146 against San Diego on Nov. 4, 2007, and Arizona's LeShon Johnson ran for 131 against New Orleans on Sept. 22, 1996.
Fargas had previous Raiders mark of 113 at Miami last year.
*Cable addressed Shane Lechler and Nnamdi Asomugha having already cleaned out their lockers in Alameda.
He said it wasn't a big deal. Lechler is expected t be at Monday's mandatory team meeting at 10 a.m. Asomugha had already been excused, Cable said.