This past Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned their second road win in successive weeks, defeating the Oakland Raiders 42-32. It was the second consecutive week that the Buccaneers scored at least 36 points, and a big part of that offensive surge has been the great running of rookie tailback Doug Martin. Martin, who ripped off a 251-yard game against the Raiders, has been everything Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers hoped for, but so has Josh Freeman, whose play is being overlooked.
I tried to resist posting this, because eventually I’ll be given the keys to the Doug Martin fan bus, and I can only imagine a Martin fantasy fan bus would look something like this, just jammed to the tits with jubilant owners.
So yeah, go wild, because you can. Martin’s 251 rushing yards yesterday tied him for the 10th best single-game rushing performance of all time, and when we add that with his four rushing touchdowns and 21 receiving yards, the math leads to 51 fantasy points using standard scoring. How absurd is that? Absurd enough that he jumped from ninth to first in fantasy points among running backs. In one day.
The conclusion of Week 9′s Sunday afternoon slate of games featured Christian Ponder continuing to be an underwhelming mess, with only 63 passing yards during the Vikings’ loss to Seattle at a pace of just (wait for it) 2.9 yards per attempt. We also saw the appearance of the other Eli Manning, the one who’s wayward and a little frantic in the pocket as he completed just 41.6 percent of his passes. That’s significantly lower than his 61.0 percentage on the season, and it comes a week after he completed just 51.7 percent.
Those were hurtful numbers, both for Manning owners, and anyone who owns anyone on the Vikings’ offense not named Adrian Peterson (he was pretty good too with 182 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries) and wished to see them get the ball with some degree of regularity.
But the two most impressive and surprising developments came in the same game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is on the verge of taking a major hit, after news cornerback Eric Wright is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy, according to Jay Glazer. The Bucs are already missing cornerback Aqib Talib due to a four-game ban for taking Adderall, an ADD medication.
Wright has played six seasons in the NFL for the Browns, Lions, and Bucs. This season, he’s recorded 31 tackles and one interception in seven games.
The Tampa defense currently ranks 25th in the league, allowing an average of 394.7 yards per game.
Doug Martin has received all of the praise for all of his running and pass catching and tackle dodging last night. He deserves your words and admiration, because his 214 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns — which included a 64-yard score on a screen pass when he showcased impressive breakaway speed — did more than just collect 32 fantasy points for his owners.
What’s even more important is that if there was still any lingering doubt about who was the lead RB in Tampa’s backfield between the rookie first-round pick and LeGarrette Blount, it was violently crushed Thursday night. So keep sporadically thrusting your fist high into the air, Martin owners, and don’t inform your co-workers about the motivation behind your spontaneous action.
But I’m more interested in the continued uprising of a Bucs wide receiver who isn’t named Vincent Jackson.
What started eight weeks ago as a completely unoriginal idea and a way to keep two interns busy for a few hours has become its own breathing, living being. First, our weekly Thursday Madden simulation was able to predict Kevin Ogletree’s Jerry Rice impression on opening night when he had 114 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. When Madden forecasted that he’d have 115 yards and one score, we were petrified, knowing that with great power comes great responsibility. How were we to harness our oracle abilities? There’s never been an awful television show about the possession of such a power, so we were lost, alone, and cold.
But with one giant step comes another bounding leap, and now we’ve grown from this post’s humble beginnings that featured the profane rantings of a few interns who have since become paid employees solely because of their ability to watch a video game*. Now we have actual moving pictures with sound, and not just any sound. From now on when I play Madden, epic gladiator music will fill the room at max volume.