By Kyra Hallett
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now won that last six match-ups with the Minnesota Vikings. The win also ended the Bucs’ nine-game road losing streak. The last time the Bucs won on the road was last season, also against the Vikings. Neither team started the game strong but the Bucs soon kicked it in. The Bucs used several different weapons with the rookies stepping up in the game. Rookie running back Doug Martin had his best game all season getting a combined total over 200 yards. Rookie cornerback and local boy Leonard Johnson had his first career interception to end the game.
The Bucs offense was clicking on all cylinders, especially the run game. Martin rushed for 135 yards and one touchdown with his longest being for 41 yards. That is his longest run all season. Martin had over 100 yards in the first half. He also had 79 receiving yards including a 64-yard reception for a touchdown. That is also his longest reception on the season and the longest pass play the Vikings have allowed this season. Martin is the first Bucs running back since Warrick Dunn to get a touchdown both running and receiving in the same game. LeGarrette Blount recovered from Sunday negative-yardage game against the New Orleans Saints by rushing for 16 yards.
At one point, Martin and the Vikings had the same stat line: 184 yards total offense and one touchdown.
Quarterback Josh Freeman had another strong game. He didn’t throw as much as he did versus the Saints but that was due to how well Martin was running the ball. Freeman threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He had no interceptions for the second straight game and was only sacked once. Freeman is the first quarterback in Bucs history to have three or more touchdown passes in three straight games. This was his 10th straight game with a touchdown pass.
Wide receiver Mike Williams had 68 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Dallas Clark had one of his bigger games getting the ball three times for 40 yards. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson only touched the ball twice but both came in big third down conversions. He had 40 yards in the game. Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood received the ball three times for 27 yards. Fullback Eric Lorig had his first career touchdown for one yard.
The Bucs were able to go five-for-five on third down conversions in a 16-play drive that ended in a touchdown. They tried for one two-point conversion but couldn’t score. Grade: A
Buccaneers’ Special Teams
Kicker Connor Barth had a perfect game, going three-for-three on field goal. His longest was for 40 yards. Punter Michael Koenen punted six times with an average of 41.7 yards per punt. He had a 19-kick touchback streak going that ended in the third quarter. The returners didn’t have a big game. Kickoff returner Arrelious Benn knelt in the end zone for a touchback each time. Punt returner Roscoe Parrish had a difficult game. He dropped one punt but was able to recover it. He was able to run one back for one yard. Grade: A
After two weeks without getting a sack, the Bucs defense had three. The first one came from defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. Linebacker Mason Foster and defensive end Michael Bennett followed. Veteran safety Ronde Barber led the team in tackles with eight. He also forced a fumble, the 15th in his career. Bennett also had a forced fumble. Foster recovered one fumble for four yards and linebacker Quincy Black recovered the other. The Bucs were able to score both times from those turnovers. Rookie Leonard Johnson had two tackles and broke up some big plays. He had a near-interception on a third down play towards the end of the first half but he was ruled out of bounds. Luckily he had another opportunity and got his first career interception in the end of the fourth quarter with just seconds left in the game. Grade: A
The Bucs coaches learned from Sunday’s game versus the Saints. When the Bucs got down to the goal line, they did not go up the middle three times; they faked it and threw to Lorig. They also stayed with whoever was hot and that was Martin. The Bucs would put in Blount at times to give Martin a break but Blount wasn’t hot. Towards the end of the third quarter, the Vikings were getting wise of the run game. At that point, Freeman should have thrown a little more but it was probably due to trying to kill the clock. Grade: A
The Bucs will have extra time to prepare for the Oakland Raiders. They will play in Oakland on November 4. If the Bucs keep up the way they have been playing since their bye week, they have a good shot at being .500 when they face off against the Atlanta Falcons on November 25.
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Kyra Hallett is a freelance writer and a Multimedia Sports Journalist. She has experience covering Tampa Bay sports in many outlets including Examiner.com. Her dream job would be to work with the athletes and their fans. You can view some of her work at KyraHallett.com or here at Examiner.com.