Rookie of the year ... Doug Martin???
Coming into the season, most of the attention on offensive rookie performers centered on quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Colts and Robert Griffin III of the Redskins. Well, don't look now, but Bucs running back Doug Martin has now entered the picture for NFL Rookie of the Year honors.
The first-round tailback put on another fine showing - this time before more than 60 family members and friends he grew up with in Stockton, Calif. - by rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-32 win over the Raiders in Oakland.
"Just about everybody was here," Martin said, per Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. "My mom was here, of course, and a whole bunch of family members and friends. Even some of my teammates from high school were here. I'm just glad I could put on a good show for them."
Good show? It was a record-breaking show, as Martin set franchise marks for most rushing yards, most touchdowns and most yards from scrimmage (272).
Martin was the 31st overall pick in the draft out of Boise State. He was drafted one spot ahead of the Giants' David Wilson, who is currently a reserve back and return man.
"I really have to take a step back here and just look at it all," Martin said of running into the Bucs and NFL record books. "It's just surreal right now. I mean, I'm just trying to do my job out there."
At 4-4, the Bucs are now in contention for a spot in the wild card playoffs; it's almost out of the question that they'd be able to catch 8-0 Atlanta in the NFC South. But first things first, said coach Greg Schiano.
"We keep talking about being 1-0 (after each game), and if we can just keep doing that we're going to be in something," Schiano said. "We're not naive to the fact that if you win enough games you get into the tournament. That's everybody's goal. But we break it down into 16 smaller goals, and that's what we've done a good job of here so far."
After rushing for 31 yards on eight carries in the first half against Oakland, Schiano told Martin he was dropping his head as he ran through the hole, which took away the balance he'd need for big gainers. But Martin made the adjustment, breaking off runs of 61, 67 and 70 yards in the second half.
"I was getting to the line stumbling on a few runs and then coach told me, ‘Just keep your head up,' " Martin said. "After that, I did what he said and it helped me keep my balance and then, it was off to the races."
Martin broke James Wilder's single-game Bucs record of 219 rushing yards, a mark that had stood since Nov. 6, 1983.