This time the defense wasn’t at its best, but that didn’t seem to really matter. Doug Martin is running behind a line missing its best two players. That didn’t seem to matter either. What we learned in this game is that this offense is electric. Oakland doesn’t have an elite defense, but they aren’t horrible either. Racking up 42 points against them is no small feat. The player of this game is without a doubt Doug Martin. He ended up nearly setting a rookie rushing record, falling just short of Adrian Peterson. The remarkable thing is that he is doing this on a line held in place with duct tape. 25 carries for 251 yards. He added 21 through the air and reached the end zone 4 times. 4 times… Yeah he is the real deal. I questioned his ability to be full time back earlier in the season, and he is really making me look like a fool.
With Martin’s monster game, Josh Freeman almost gets overshadowed. He added nearly 250 yards himself through the air with a couple of scores as well. His top target Vincent Jackson wasn’t looked at all day, but he had an effective 84 yards and a TD, 64 yards coming on one play. Mike Williams had 68 yards as well, and Freeman is doing a great job hitting his top two receivers. All of a sudden Freeman is looking like a franchise QB.
The defense took a step backwards, and I kind of saw that coming with a better QB throwing at them. Palmer isn’t incredible, but he can still rack up the yardage. He had a huge total of 414 in this one, but it took him 61 passes to reach that. That is over double of what Freeman threw, and some quarterbacks get away with a third of that in games. He had 4 touchdowns, but also 3 interceptions. The rushing defense just seems to be getting better with each coming week. The Raiders abandoned the run early after Tampa jumped out to an early lead. McFadden is an exceptional runner, but only got 17 yards on 7 carries. He has struggled this year, but Oakland was clearly looking away from the rush.
That is now 3 out of 4 for Tampa, and they are very much alive in the NFC at 4-4. Unfortunately, Atlanta plays in the same division and stand at 7-0. If The Buc’s are looking to make the playoffs, they will have to do so through the wild card. It is possible, but they have a long road ahead. Up next is San Diego, who come to Raymond James Stadium. Philip Rivers is one of the better passers Tampa has faced in a while, so that is a little concerning. Really it is a big test for a rough secondary. If they can force him into mistakes similar to how they did with Palmer then they have a good shot at winning. I’ll have more on the game later, but this team is really starting to get exciting.