TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did more than shake off a nine-game losing streak at Minnesota on Thursday night.
They also put to rest questions about trading up into the first round last spring to draft 5-foot-9, 223-pound running back Doug Martin out of Boise State.
Martin broke out with a huge game in the Bucs' 36-19 victory against the Vikings, running for 135 yards and a touchdown and sprinting 64 yards with a screen pass for another touchdown. Martin was the largest of several impressive offensive factors in Tampa Bay's first victory on the road in more than a year.
"From the beginning we've been saying this guy's got some special abilities," head coach Greg Schiano said Friday. "He just keeps getting better and better and I think things are slowing down for him like they do often-times for very talented rookies."
Martin was having a decent rookie year through his first six games, but Thursday night's game vaulted him up to eighth place on the NFL rushing list with 543 yards.
"I wasn't really aware that this was going to be a breakout game," he said Thursday night. "I just wanted to come in and focus on my job and do my job and the rest would take care of itself."
A 41-yard run early in the game was Martin's first clue that this could be a special night for him, but he says he is still adjusting.
"As a rookie running back it is hard to come from college to the NFL," he said. "The speed of the game has definitely increased. It's a feel thing; you have got to have that rhythm as a running back and get comfortable in the offense and have that game-time experience. I believe I'm definitely there, right where I need to be."