1) Doug Martin. Martin. Martin Martin Martin. Martin TOUCHDOWN. TOUCHDOWN MARTIN MARTIN! MARTIN TOUCHDOWN DOUGIE TOUCHDOWN TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN!!!
You may have noticed the game at Oakland turned into the Doug Martin Show in the Third Quarter, with an encore performance in the Fourth Quarter during which Doug Martin achieved f-cking GODHOOD. There are tribes in the South Pacific that are now worshiping him instead of the local volcano gods...
2) This was a game won by offense. Sheer offense. The defense made a few plays, but it was all on the offense just EXPLODING in the Second Half of the game racking up 35 points. And they had to, because the Bucs' defense had more issues than a multiple personality disorder victim running out of meds.
3) Let's just note the key elements of the offensive performance of the Bucs' season to date (which excels the offensive performance Martin had LAST WEEK):
3a) Doug Martin had three long touchdown runs. The first went for 45 yards, which by itself is impressive. The second went for 67 yards, including some excellent effort at the end of the run to avoid the pursuit close to the end zone (compare to that long reception by V-Jax where Jackson got outrun and was tackled at the 2-yard line vs. the Saints: Martin did what Jackson SHOULD HAVE done, which was juke that tackler and step into the end zone). The third went for 70 yards and was pretty much just Martin hitting the afterburner at the 50-yard-line and leaving all Raiders defenders in the dust. The fourth touchdown run Martin earned was for 1 yard... almost an after-dinner mint, but also a game-winning one, which makes it just as sweet.
According to the Stats guys, Doug Martin is the first running back since 1940 - perhaps EVER - to garner three touchdowns over 40 yards EACH in one game. Bo Jackson never did. Barry Sanders, nuh-uh. Emmitt Smith, puh-leeze. Jim Brown? Well, we don't talk smack about Jim Brown, but still even he never did this.
3b) Martin set the team record at 251 rushing yards. He'd have had more but that dumbass coach Schiano was personally obligated to not call Victory snaps and forced Martin to make run plays that got tackled for losses. Even then, Martin tied for third overall among rookies with this game-day performance.
3c) I'm not so sure about the number of touchdowns in a game for a running back. Four TDs is a big number, but have any other Bucs' RB scored that many in one game? Maybe Mike Alstott or James Wilder? Check the stat records, krewe!
3d) The other offensive performance goes to, yes, QB Josh Freeman. His ongoing trek of getting at least 3 TD passes per game ended here, but he comes out of this game with a respectable 2-TD performance with 237 yards and more importantly no INTs. The important thing is that he managed the game well, which is what we want to see out of him as he gains more confidence in this new offensive scheme.
3e) While Zuttah had bad moments... for most of the game... the offensive line overall played well considering the loss of OG Carl Nicks to injury. Lacking our two starters - Davin Joseph also out - watching good lanes open up for Martin in the Second Half is a good sign our patchwork line can work.
4) The bleak spot haunting the Bucs' performance tonight was clearly the suffering passing Defense. Giving up 402 yards overall to Carson Palmer? Not a good sign. Letting the Raiders back into the game in the Fourth Quarter giving up 22 points? Not a good sign.
The only good sign was that the Bucs' defense made key plays at key moments: forcing 3 INTs, which led to points off turnovers.
4a) Another player having a great day today was Safety Amhad Black. He made an excellent heads-up play snagging the onside kick Oakland attempted early in the Fourth. He also showed up with a key INT late in the Fourth that turned into the clinching TD by Martin.
4b) LaVonte David led the team in tackles, hitting the double-digit count at 16 total tackles, 14 solo. When I said he most reminded me of Derrick Brooks on draft day, I was not kidding.
4c) DE Michael Bennett got shaken up early, but came back and garnered a huge sack on Palmer. The stats seem meager, but Bennett's having an All-Pro year. The other DE, Da'Quan Bowers, also had a sack, keeping the stat guys happy.
4d) Other guys keeping the fantasy league owners smiling are Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, both of them snagging good yardage stats and a Touchdown each, again. They aren't overwhelming, but together they're one of the best WR tandems right now in the league.
5) If we gotta talk goats of the game, the Bucs' secondary overall had a weak game. Specific players can be pointed at for screw-ups, but the entire unit is struggling even the good players like Ronde Barber and Mark Barron. Considering there's little the Bucs organization can do with trading deadlines passed, we're just gonna have to see better adjustments and pray the next 8 games aren't as bad... What's that about QBs like Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning playing us? Oh, crap...
5a) Jeremy Zuttah earns serious Goat honors by giving up his assignment on Connor Barth's first FG try, which got blocked. Poor Barth ended up zero-for-two on Field Goal tries, which isn't his fault. That was supposed to be an easy FG well within range... and Zuttah f-cked it.
5b) While I mentioned Freeman having a good game, he made one key flaw: he and LeGarrette Blount muffed up a handoff on a run play early in the Fourth Quarter. Blount was out there to let Martin - who'd had his 70-yarder the previous drive - rest up a little. That fumbled handoff went to the Raiders, and Palmer made our team pay with a Touchdown drive that got the score to 35-32.
Blount's gotten a lot of blame from the online fans real quick - partly because he has that history of fumbles, but mostly because the love for him is gone daddy gone now that there's a new sexier RB in town... The blame is shared between Freeman and Blount: they gotta work on those damn handoffs.
6) There is another thing that almost cost the Bucs the game today: Penalties. A ton of stupid-ass, what-the-hell penalties that we're not supposed to be seeing under the Schiano regime. FOURTEEN penalties for a total of 116 yards (that's a touchdown drive's length plus punt return yards). The most egregious? Having 12 men on the field on defense on the first play of the Fourth Quarter, when we had a field-changing time-out and we STILL screwed up the head count. C'MON MAN...
7) In other NFL news, Andrew Luck reportedly set a rookie record for yards passed during the Colts' win over the Dolphins. But WHO CARES about first overall draft picks? DOUG MARTIN DESERVES THE ROOKIE OF THE WEEK AWARD DAMMIT...
7a) The Chicago Bears scored more points on defense than some teams scored all day...
7b) Carolina won their game, with Cam Newton recovering some poise beating out the Flavor of the Year RGIII. The fight for first overall draft pick now exists between Kansas City and Jacksonville...
8) In college football news: WILL SOMEONE PLEASE BEAT ALABAMA AND NOTRE DAME BEFORE WE'RE DOOMED TO THAT BCS MATCHUP OF TWO TEAMS THE REST OF THE WORLD F-CKING HATE?
8a) I am all for an Oregon - Louisville BCS matchup. Just to screw with the media elites in the Northeast corridor. UP YOURS ESPN.
9) In professional hockey news, Arena Football is just months away.
10) Next up: Bucs return home to face the San Diego Chargers. Doug Martin is figuring out how he can get to 300 yards rushing in just 12 carries in case the coaches wanna pull him too early...
What do you think, sirs?