Bucs' run game persistence doesn't pay off
The Buccaneers are determined to get their running game going. The proof came Sunday afternoon with 2:43 to play in their 16-10 loss to the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium.
Despite being down two scores at the time, the Bucs dialed up a running play on first-and-10 from their 20-yard line and tried to run again two plays later on third-and-9 from their 21.
Neither play worked, but not just because quarterback Josh Freeman failed to hear the proper play call when the transmitter in his helmet went haywire on the third-down play.
The Bucs, who came into the game averaging 3.6 yards per carry, were stymied throughout the day, recording just 75 rushing yards on 25 carries against a team that allowed an average of 132 yards rushing the first two weeks of the season.
"The Cowboys are a good team and they played well,'' said Bucs rookie running back Doug Martin, who ran 19 times for 53 yards. "We just didn't make the plays we needed to make on offense.''
This wasn't the first time that happened. The Bucs have hit what Freeman refers to as offensive "lulls'' on several occasions this year, and it has often been caused by an inability to run the ball.
That was the case on Sunday. Martin had one run for 17 yards, but was held to gains of 1, 2 or 3 yards on the majority of his runs.
Through two games, the Boise State product the Bucs drafted late in the first round, has 63 carries for 214 yards, giving him a modest 3.4 yard average.
The only runner to surpass four yards per carry on Sunday was Tampa Bay backup LeGarrette Blount, who ran four times for 19 yards, including an 11-yard gain on his first carry midway through the game.
"They made it tough on us,'' Schiano said of the Cowboys defense. "They crowded the box. We had some opportunities, but we also had some penalties. We had 10 penalties today, that's more than we've had.''
It wasn't just penalties that derailed the running attack. Poor play up front was part of the problem, as well, according to several members of the offensive line.
"It just comes down to everybody doing a little more,'' center Jeremy Zuttah said. "We have to be tighter on the details. We're pushing people back, but if you're not on your aiming point or on the right angle then the guys (get off the block) and they make stops when it could have been an explosive play. We just have to get better on the details.''