There were only two candidates for the Game Ball of the Week: Legarrette Blount and Josh Freeman. I can make great arguments for both players, but I think Blount was more crucial to the eventual success of the team. It wasn't until Blount started to play well that the Bucs' play-action passing game got going and Freeman started to drive the Bucs downfield.
Blount was absolutely dominant in the second half. Run after run after run he hit the hole hard, he didn't dance in the backfield and there was no hesitation in any of his moves. He ran downhill and powerfully, and he was his usual beastly self as soon as he got to the second level. In the second half he ran for 67 yards on just eight carries and two touchdowns, which comes out to a ridiculous 8.4 yards per carry.
What was perhaps most encouraging for Blount was that when it was crunch time and when the Bucs had to have a touchdown, he got the ball. The Bucs had marched downfield in a shotgun-based, no-huddle offense with Earnest Graham as the third-down back. But when the Bucs faced first-and-goal at the Minnesota four-yard line, Blount came in and pounded the ball inside for his second touchdown.
Fullback Erik Lorig also deserves some credit for the running game's resurgence in the second half, and some of the blame for the running game's lackluster performance in the first half. While he looked bad on Blount's five runs in the first half, he looked very good in the second half.
Legarrette Blount was a key to the Bucs first win of the 2011 season. Hopefully the Bucs can get him going earlier in games, because as we have seen so often, this one was much closer than it needed to be.