Bucs’ running game sputters during 2-game skid

Tampa Bay’s running game has slowed down during a two-game

losing streak, and the Buccaneers know they need to get rookie Doug

Martin going again to remain in playoff contention.

Nevertheless, coach Greg Schiano said Monday he’s not overly

concerned that Atlanta and Denver were able to contain the budding

young star, who’s third in the NFL in rushing and second in total

yards from scrimmage despite not finding much room to run


Schiano said Martin appeared to be on his way to a nice day

against the Broncos before Peyton Manning threw a couple of

touchdown passes and Von Miller returned an interception for a

touchdown in the third quarter to force Tampa Bay (6-6) to become

one-dimensional on offense during a 31-23 loss on Sunday.

”He had 48 yards at the half. … Usually if the game remains

close, those runs only get more – they don’t get less – as you wear

people down,” Schiano said. ”I thought he was right on stride to

have a really good production day, but then we got behind by three

scores. … So you take away, really, the prime real estate for

rushing the football, and that’s the fourth quarter when people are

worn out.”

Martin carried three times for 8 yards after halftime, finishing

with 56 yards on 18 attempts. The Falcons limited him to 50 yards

on 21 attempts – a season-low 2.4 yards per carry – in a 24-23

Atlanta victory two weeks ago.

”Overall, I thought Doug ran the ball well. And if we had been

able to continue to do that … I think we would have had a good

day,” Schiano said. ”So, I think we’ll be fine there.”

With Martin bursting onto the scene with a 251-yard,

four-touchdown rushing effort against Oakland on Nov. 4, the Bucs

averaged 171 yards rushing per game during a four-week stretch in

which they turned their season around following a 1-3 start.

Now, they’ve rushed for fewer than 100 yards in three of the

past four games.

Tampa Bay led 10-7 at halftime Sunday. But after throwing a

first-quarter TD pass to Dallas Clark, Josh Freeman couldn’t get

the Bucs into the end zone again until late in the fourth


”It’s just when you are behind, your whole game plan turns

one-dimensional,” said receiver Mike Williams, who caught

Freeman’s second TD. ”We know we are a two-dimensional team. We

know Doug is a valuable part of our offense. When we are behind

like that and we turn … one-dimensional, it’s going to be


Only Adrian Peterson (1,446) and Marshawn Lynch (1,138) have

rushed for more yards this season than Martin, who’s closing in on

Tampa Bay’s rookie record with 1,106 yards. He’s second behind

Peterson (1,641) with 1,480 total yards from scrimmage.

Martin, who’s also closing in on Warrick Dunn’s Bucs rookie

record for yards from scrimmage, is confident the team will be able

to get the running game back on track.

The rookie attributed his 3.1 yards per carry average Sunday to

the Denver defense playing up to its billing as one of the league’s


He also felt the Bucs showed something by finding a way to get

13 fourth-quarter points and make the score respectable at the


”That’s the thing about us, we got a lot of fighters on the

team. We have a lot of competitors that want to win and will give

it their all to win the game,” Martin after the game. ”That’s

something that I personally appreciate about this team, that we

have a lot of fighters and competitors.”

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