Final

Buccaneers 36

(3-4, 1-2 away)

Vikings 17

(5-3, 4-1 home)

Coverage: NFL

8:20 PM ET, October 25, 2012

Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 10 10 10 636
MIN 0 10 7 017

Top Performers

Passing: J. Freeman (TB) - 262 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: D. Martin (TB) - 29 CAR, 135 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: P. Harvin (MIN) - 7 REC, 90 YDS, 1 TD

Doug Martin piles up 214 total yards as Buccaneers rip Vikings

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Traveling to Minnesota to play on Thursday night was supposed to be tough for Tampa Bay.

Rookie Doug Martin ran around the field as if he didn't want to leave.

Martin racked up 214 total yards -- including a career-high 135 rushing -- and two touchdowns, and the Buccaneers romped to a 36-17 victory to hand the Vikings their first home loss this season.

"It was pretty fun. I'm not going to lie," said Martin, who took a screen pass 64 yards for a score, one of three Josh Freeman touchdown passes, to give Tampa Bay a 27-10 lead just 1:21 into the second half.

Then Martin, the first-round draft pick out of Boise State, capped a drive of more than 9 minutes with a 1-yard muscle into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter to crush the comeback opportunity for Minnesota (5-3).

"It's hard to come from college to the NFL. The speed of the game is definitely increased, and this is a feel thing. You're looking for that rhythm, as a running back, getting comfortable in the offense and having that game-time experience. I'm definitely there, right where I need to be," Martin said.

Adrian Peterson had a season-long 64-yard run for a score that brought the Vikings to 30-17, but his lost fumble in Minnesota territory in the second quarter led directly to a touchdown by the Buccaneers (3-4).

"It can get frustrating sometimes, but you can't show that during the game. You've got to stay focused, stay resilient," Peterson said. "I feel like we did that, but we just weren't able to continue with it and stay on a roll with it."

The Bucs, who became just the second visiting team to win on a Thursday night in seven games this season, revived their struggling pass rush with three sacks and flustered Christian Ponder with a heavy dose of blitzes. Ponder finished 19 for 35 for 251 yards, one touchdown and a late interception at the end of a desperation drive.

With a 13-point lead, just trying to keep that clock running as quickly as possible, the Bucs could've gone conservative, but they refused to settle for a punt. Starting at their own 13 with 1:12 left in the third quarter, they plowed their way up the field -- Freeman completed four third-and-long passes -- and finished off the game with Martin's third-and-goal touchdown run with 7:03 remaining.

"Ah, he is definitely an asset to our football team," cornerback Ronde Barber said of Martin. "For a young guy to have that kind of vision, to have that kind of patience as a runner, it's pretty impressive."

Freeman went 19 for 36 for 262 yards and, most importantly, no turnovers. Mike Williams had one of the touchdowns and 68 yards on six receptions, and the Bucs held the ball for nearly 38 of the 60 minutes.

With two games apiece against division rivals Chicago and Green Bay plus road trips to Seattle and Houston in the second half of their schedule, the Vikings have quite the challenge waiting for them and their strong start after Thanksgiving.

They faced an important test in this second half, too, after taking the clear advantage they had as the home team in this matchup and handing it over to the Buccaneers.

"There are so few opportunities in the NFL to ride that momentum, and we've got to take advantage of them," Ponder said.

Their first three possessions were three-and-outs, Ponder started 0 for 5, and Jerome Simpson lost a fumble after a short catch near midfield. The Bucs turned that into the second of Connor Barth's three field goals and took a 13-0 lead.

"It's always good to have a fast start, especially playing in an environment like this one. I think it makes things a lot easier down the road," Freeman said.

Harvin finally gave the Vikings some life by grabbing a screen pass for a 32-yard gain and then pivoting to haul in sideline pass over his shoulder for an 18-yard touchdown catch.

But Peterson, who was having no trouble reaching the Tampa Bay secondary with almost every run through the line, had the ball stripped after a spin move by the veteran Barber. The Bucs got the ball at the Minnesota 37, and Williams made a tricky catch in the corner of the end zone for a 3-yard score and a 20-7 lead.

The Buccaneers won only two of new coach Greg Schiano's first six games, but all four of their losses were by seven points or less. So here was their chance to finally enjoy a comfortable victory, setting up a second half that was just as eventful as the first.

Martin caught a screen pass and sped straight through the Vikings, escaping Chad Greenway's tackle and not stopping until he reached the end zone. The Bucs used a three-and-out by the Vikings to add three more points and stretch the lead to 30-10.

Peterson made up for his earlier fumble, though, by matching Martin's big play with one of his own, sprung by a pancake block from Simpson to reach the end zone and bring the Vikings back in it.

The game got even more intense, too, with Jared Allen and Donald Penn trading shoves after one play that left Minnesota's All-Pro with a facemask penalty and a bashed-up nose after Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl left tackle pried Allen's helmet off and got a personal foul of his own. Allen was yelling at Penn after the whistle, pointing at the blood running down onto his teeth and telling him he was coming after him. Allen finished off that drive with a sack, forcing the Buccaneers to punt late in the third quarter.

But Tampa Bay, after blowing a 21-7 lead in losing to New Orleans last week, finished strong this time.

"Guys are getting more comfortable with what we're doing and with each other," said Schiano, the former Rutgers coach. "We're getting better and that's what you're supposed to do."

Game notes


Peterson finished with 123 yards on 15 carries. ... The Bucs improved to just 4-13 in their history on the road in prime-time games. ... Harvin had 90 yards on seven catches.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
MIN
1st Downs2316
Passing 1st downs
1411
Rushing 1st downs
84
1st downs from Penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
8-175-13
4th down efficiency
0-00-1
Total Plays7859
Total Yards416369
Yards per play5.36.3
Total Drives1414
Passing257229
Comp - Att
19-3619-35
Yards per pass
7.16.5
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks - Yards Lost
1-53-22
Rushing159140
Rushing Attempts
4121
Yards per rush
3.96.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-41-2
Penalties4-495-32
Turnovers03
Fumbles lost
02
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession37:4522:15

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Freeman19/362627.3301-5
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Ponder19/352517.2113-22

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Martin291354.7141
Blount8162.008
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson151238.2164
Ponder4123.006

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Martin37926.31646
Williams66811.313411
MINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Harvin79012.913212
Jenkins47819.50289

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBMIN
tbFG09:48Connor Barth 28 Yd 30
tbTD03:34Erik Lorig 1 Yd Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick) 100
SECOND QUARTERTBMIN
tbFG12:20Connor Barth 40 Yd 130
minTD09:39Percy Harvin 18 Yd Pass From Christian Ponder (Blair Walsh Kick) 137
tbTD04:30Mike Williams 3 Yd Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick) 207
minFG01:40Blair Walsh 51 Yd 2010
THIRD QUARTERTBMIN
tbTD13:39Doug Martin 64 Yd Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick) 2710
tbFG07:50Connor Barth 38 Yd 3010
minTD07:28Adrian Peterson 64 Yd Run (Blair Walsh Kick) 3017
FOURTH QUARTERTBMIN
tbTD07:03Doug Martin 1 Yd Run (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed) 3617

Research Notes

The Buccaneers prevented big plays from Christian Ponder by allowing only three completions of more than 10 yards downfield. Through the first six games, the Buccaneers defense had allowed quarterbacks to complete more than 56 percent of such passes (26th in the NFL), including nearly 80 percent by Drew Brees last week.
  [+]
Adrian Peterson attempted 13 of his 15 rushes inside the tackles, gaining 126 yards and averaging a season-high 9.7 yards per rush. The Vikings have continued to limit Peterson's rushes to mainly straight-ahead runs after his ACL injury last season, as he rushed for -3 yards outside the tackles on two carries Thursday. Peterson has now gained 94.6 percent of his rushing yards this season between the tackles.
  [+]
Doug Martin rushed for a career-high 135 yards, 121 of which came on rushes between the tackles. It was the second-most yards between the tackles by a Buccaneer running back in the last five seasons. Martin's 65 yards after contact between the tackles are the fifth-most by a rusher this season.
  [+]
Josh Freeman was 10-19 for 124 yards and three touchdowns on passes traveling five or fewer yards downfield. It was the first time Freeman has ever had three touchdowns in a game on passes of that distance and only the third time it has been done in the NFL this season.
With his 214 total yards (135 rushing, 79 receiving) in Tampa Bay's win at Minnesota on Thursday night, Doug Martin became the third running back this season with at least 200 yards from scrimmage in a single game.
  [+]
Ponder was 2-7 for 17 yards when the Buccaneers sent 5 or more pass rushers.
Josh Freeman's three touchdown passes have traveled a combined 1 yard past the line of scrimmage.
Continuing his season-long trend, Adrian Peterson has 61 rushing yards inside the tackles (-1 outside).

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