I thought going into this game that Vincent Jackson was the number one weapon for Tampa. I was wrong, very, very wrong.
Doug Martin single handedly won this game for the Buccaneers. He looked like a mini Bo Jackson for a stretch there with TD runs of 45, 67, and 70 yards. Not even Bo had a collection of TD runs like that in a single game, in fact nobody in the history of time has.
It was the first game in history where one player had TD runs from 45+, 65+, and 70+ in the same game. Doug Martin also set a franchise record with 251 yards rushing, which ties him with Mike Anderson for the 10th spot on the list of single game rushing records in NFL history.
Martin also ended the game with a gut wrenching 1-yard TD with just under 2 minutes left to give Tampa the final 10 point lead. Yes, Doug Martin was Tampa Bay's number one weapon, not Vincent Jackson. If it's any consolation at least Martin has the worst nickname ever; The Muscle Hamster.
Despite getting carved up by Martin like a Thanksgiving turkey the Raiders still were right in this game at the end. If Palmer hadn't thrown those interceptions, if they just could have stopped Tampa on that last drive, if they just tackled Doug Martin once in a while, so many ifs and they would have had a chance to win. They just couldn't overcome an incredible performance by the Bucs running game.
Once again the Raiders missed the chance to win a statement game. A win in this game would have been huge for this franchise.
The Raiders now without a shadow of a doubt are a passing team. Carson ended this game with 39 out of 61 passing for 414 yards with 4 TD's. That has much to do with Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson each getting ankle injuries but they weren't exactly tearing it up while in the game anyway. Unfortunately Palmer also had 3 interceptions, one of which was the killer when the Raiders appeared prime to tie or take the lead after an incredible comeback.
Even though the interceptions killed the Raiders in this game this was still a great game by Palmer. Without the great performance by Carson the Raiders wouldn't have been in a position for his INT's to matter. His performance endeared him even more to my heart and solidifies his status as the best Raider QB since Rich Gannon. I grew up watching a lot of Brett Favre in Green Bay and I love the gunslinger QB's because of that. There is zero doubt that Palmer is from that same mold.
It was especially nice to see Marcel Reece get more involved in this game. He had 8 catches for 95 yards and a great TD catch. He has been used far too little up until now and its great to see he wasn't completely forgotten in this game. As the Raiders move forward Reece will hopefully be a major part of the game plan. With injuries looming for both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, the Raiders might not have much of a choice but to involve Marcel more.
This was both a terrible game and a great game. If the Raiders had been able to pull out the win this would have been one of the greatest regular season games in Raiders history. Unfortunately they didn't and the Raiders are now 3-5 and heading cross country to Baltimore. Despite the obvious reasons for doom and gloom I do still feel good about the Raiders as a team.
Lets face the truth though, at this time 8-8 is probably the best case scenario. Its very much still a possibility to get there and it is still even possible to do better but it will take hard work. Hopefully the Raiders are prepared for the effort they need to put in, but after this game its clear effort is not the Raiders problem.