Big day on the ground for the Muscle Hamster
Obscured in the Bucs' 16-14 loss to New Orleans was a strong game by second-year running back Doug Martin, who matched his career high with 29 carries and went for 144 yards, the second-best total in his young NFL career.
Martin was especially good in the third quarter -- when he earned 61 yards on nine carries -- but came up just short as the Bucs tried to salt away the final minutes of the game with a 14-13 lead.
Martin converted a key third-and-2 for a first down in New Orleans territory with 2:24 left, and had another chance on a third-and-6 after the Saints had used their last time out. Martin got the ball but was stopped for a 3-yard gain, forcing a punt that gave the Saints their shot at the comeback victory.
The only game better in Martin's 18 career games was his 251-yard effort in last year's win against Oakland. It's also the most rushing yards in a game by any NFL player in the first two weeks of the season entering Sunday night's Seahawks-49ers game.
"I thought we ran the ball very well today," said coach Greg Schiano, whose team outrushed the Saints 160-75. "I thought Doug and the offensive line, I thought it was a good effort that way."
Martin has now rushed for a 100-yard game against all three of the Bucs' divisional opponents, having done so against the Falcons and Panthers as a rookie. Of Martin's six career 100-yard games, Sunday was just his second at home, following a 128-yard effort against Philadelphia last season.