Rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries last Thursday night in Minnesota, and anyone who didn’t believe Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik made the right move trading back into the first round to grab Martin got extra proof Sunday.
Martin rushed for 251 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 42-32 win over the Oakland Raiders.
During his post-game press conference, head coach Greg Schiano said he spent some time this week wondering how Martin would handle himself after such success on a national stage.
“This test he stepped up and met the challenge for sure,” said Schiano. “He’s going to have a lot of challenges along the way, but I tell you what, today was special.”
It wasn’t just special from a sheer numbers standpoint, the day was record-setting.
Jenna Laine of Sports Xchange mentioned a nearly 29-year-old Buccaneers record that Martin shattered. James Wilder was Tampa Bay’s most prolific single-game running back until Martin bested that effort by 32 yards on Sunday.
Martin followed up his first career 100-yard rushing game last week with his first 200-yard rushing game this afternoon. He’s been a driving force in Tampa Bay’s resurgence ever since their bye week.
The Buccaneers are 3-1 during that span and Martin’s rushed for 547 yards and averaged 6.29 yards per carry. Not bad for a rookie, and not bad for a first-round pick that changed hands twice before Tampa bay called Martin’s name.
The New England Patriots owned the original pick and traded it to the Denver Broncos, who then handed it over to the Buccaneers. There’s not a team out there that wouldn’t use that end-of-the-first-round selection on Martin now.
Martin isn’t doing it alone. He wasn’t the sole reason for success in Oakland, and he hasn’t been the only guy working since the bye week.
Quarterback Josh Freeman posted his fourth consecutive quarterback rating of over 100 Sunday, and has thrown for 1,247 yards in those games.
Freeman is very comfortable in his new role of downfield passer and is spreading the ball around well to his top two targets—wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams—both of whom had touchdown catches on Sunday.
In all likelihood, he’s also very comfortable with the Buccaneers' new winning ways.