s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe

OAKLAND — Adrian Peterson ... Walter Payton ... O.J. Simpson ... Doug Martin?

Yep, thanks to the Raiders defense, the Buccaneers rookie now stands aside some of the greatest running backs to play in the NFL, at least in terms of single-game production.

Martin, who grew up in Oakland and graduated from St. Mary's College High before playing at Boise State, ran for 251 yards in Tampa Bay's 42-32 victory on Sunday, tying Mike Anderson for the 10th-best performance in league history.

It was the most ever by a Buccaneer, the most ever in Oakland, and most in the NFL this season.

"He broke a lot of tackles today," Raiders defensive end Dave Tollefson said. " ... We really didn't do a good job of getting him down. Seems like he got through that first wave. And we were hitting him. This time of year, obviously you can't tackle at practice. But it's something we need to work on."

The game developed slowly, the Raiders leading 10-7 at halftime. The second half got wild, with Martin ripping off big run after big run, and Oakland frequently countering with Carson Palmer's passes.

With star halfback Darren McFadden and backup Mike Goodson both on the bench with injuries, the Raiders had little choice but to keep the ball in the air, and for a while it looked like a blessing. When Palmer hit Marcel Reece for a 13-yard yard touchdown pass with 3:51 remaining — and followed with a jump-ball completion to Juron Criner for the 2-point conversion — the score was 35-32 and the O.co Coliseum crowd was finally invigorated.

The Raiders had two more possessions after that, but both of them ended with Palmer throwing interceptions — a play on which the quarterback and wide receiver Denarius Moore had different notions and the ball wound up going right to safety Ahmad Black, and a deep pass intended for Rod Streater that was caught by cornerback E.J. Biggers.

"We had done a good job on being patient and then wanted to take some shots when they were in pressure situations, they were leaving us one-on-one," Palmer said. "Obviously, you can sit back and wish you did it differently after a loss, and after a win everything looks right. But we need to look at this game film. We had some critical errors. I had some critical errors."

Palmer threw a pick in the second quarter, too, giving him three for the game, eight for the season and 24 in 18 games as a Raider.

When he wasn't throwing the ball to the Buccaneers, Palmer was putting up big numbers for his offense. He wound up completing 39 of 61 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns — one to Streater, two to tight end Brandon Myers and one to Reece.

It wasn't enough, because the Oakland defense was porous. Martin scored on runs of 45, 67 and 70 yards (plus a 1-yard plunge to ice the game with 1:49 left), and Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman connected on passes of 64 yards to Vincent Jackson and 37 yards to Mike Williams.

All told, the Buccaneers (4-4) wound up with 515 yards of offense, the most the Raiders (3-5) had surrendered since the Tennessee Titans gained 527 on Dec. 19, 2004.

A lot of it was logged by Martin, the 31st overall pick in last April's draft. It was his first visit ever to the Coliseum, and he made it a keeper. He estimated that he had a rooting section of 60 to 70 people, with ticket distribution arranged by his mother.

"It means everything to me, having my friends and family out here to support me," Martin said after the game. "This is an awesome feeling. I'm about to go see them after this. We're going to celebrate and have a shared moment, and then I have to get back on the plane to Tampa."

Martin deserves a lot of credit for his shifty moves and fifth-gear speed, but the Raiders hurt themselves with mistakes Sunday. They had a touchdown pass to Derek Hagan erased by a holding call on tackle Willie Smith, a pass by Shane Lechler out of punt formation that connected but fell short of a first down, and a neutral-zone infraction by defensive end Lamarr Houston that turned third-and-3 into first-and-goal at the Raiders' 6-yard line for the Buccaneers.

Certainly, the ankle injuries to McFadden and Goodson — the former in the second quarter, the latter early in the fourth — hindered the offense. The Raiders ran for just 22 yards on 11 attempts, and only five yards on three carries after halftime.

The defense has fewer excuses, and more to fix — and it had better happen fast. Next Sunday the Raiders play at Baltimore, a step or three up from recent competition.

"We talked all week about big plays and trying to prevent 'em," Tollefson said. "If you look at it, a lot of those backbreaking scores there late were runs, if not after a long run. We've just got to get some stuff cleaned up. I don't think they've burnt down the facility in Alameda yet. Not trying to make light of it, but we've got another week. And the crazy thing is, we're still in this thing, in this division."

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.