Bucs' running game sputters during 2-game skid


Bucs' running game sputters during 2-game skid

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay's running game has slowed down during a two-game losing streak, and the Buccaneers know they need to get rookie Doug Martin going again to remain in playoff contention.

Nevertheless, coach Greg Schiano said Monday he's not overly concerned that Atlanta and Denver were able to contain the budding young star, who's third in the NFL in rushing and second in total yards from scrimmage despite not finding much room to run lately.

Schiano said Martin appeared to be on his way to a nice day against the Broncos before Peyton Manning threw a couple of touchdown passes and Von Miller returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter to force Tampa Bay (6-6) to become one-dimensional on offense during a 31-23 loss on Sunday.

``He had 48 yards at the half. ... Usually if the game remains close, those runs only get more - they don't get less - as you wear people down,'' Schiano said. ``I thought he was right on stride to have a really good production day, but then we got behind by three scores. ... So you take away, really, the prime real estate for rushing the football, and that's the fourth quarter when people are worn out.''

Martin carried three times for 8 yards after halftime, finishing with 56 yards on 18 attempts. The Falcons limited him to 50 yards on 21 attempts - a season-low 2.4 yards per carry - in a 24-23 Atlanta victory two weeks ago.

``Overall, I thought Doug ran the ball well. And if we had been able to continue to do that ... I think we would have had a good day,'' Schiano said. ``So, I think we'll be fine there.''

With Martin bursting onto the scene with a 251-yard, four-touchdown rushing effort against Oakland on Nov. 4, the Bucs averaged 171 yards rushing per game during a four-week stretch in which they turned their season around following a 1-3 start.

Now, they've rushed for fewer than 100 yards in three of the past four games.

Tampa Bay led 10-7 at halftime Sunday. But after throwing a first-quarter TD pass to Dallas Clark, Josh Freeman couldn't get the Bucs into the end zone again until late in the fourth quarter.

``It's just when you are behind, your whole game plan turns one-dimensional,'' said receiver Mike Williams, who caught Freeman's second TD. ``We know we are a two-dimensional team. We know Doug is a valuable part of our offense. When we are behind like that and we turn ... one-dimensional, it's going to be hard.''

Only Adrian Peterson (1,446) and Marshawn Lynch (1,138) have rushed for more yards this season than Martin, who's closing in on Tampa Bay's rookie record with 1,106 yards. He's second behind Peterson (1,641) with 1,480 total yards from scrimmage.

Martin, who's also closing in on Warrick Dunn's Bucs rookie record for yards from scrimmage, is confident the team will be able to get the running game back on track.

The rookie attributed his 3.1 yards per carry average Sunday to the Denver defense playing up to its billing as one of the league's best.

He also felt the Bucs showed something by finding a way to get 13 fourth-quarter points and make the score respectable at the end.

``That's the thing about us, we got a lot of fighters on the team. We have a lot of competitors that want to win and will give it their all to win the game,'' Martin after the game. ``That's something that I personally appreciate about this team, that we have a lot of fighters and competitors.''


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Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

ESPN Fantasy Football expert Matthew Berry was at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere last weekend in Los Angeles, where he got the chance to interview the three Redskins rookies in attendance: Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, and Bryce Love. 

Berry, who was a guest of JP Finlay's on the Redskins Talk podcast on Thursday, has been a fan of the Burgundy and Gold since he was a kid, so he was eager to talk to three of the team's newest players and learn more about them.

It was during those interviews where Berry got a quick glimpse of a side of Haskins that now has Berry really excited.

"I thought what was really cool was... When I was interviewing McLaurin, Dwayne Haskins came in and interrupted the interview to give him some crap," he told Finlay. "It was really a wonderful moment to see. Obviously, they know each other very well from Ohio State, but just the fact that they felt comfortable enough and he wanted to come over and mess with him a little bit and have some fun, I was impressed with that."

Once Haskins left, Berry explained how he asked McLaurin about the interaction. Redskins fans will like McLaurin's answer.

"That's Dwayne, Dwayne is being a leader," McLaurin said, per Berry. 

Haskins did something similar to Love during Love's interview as well. Berry even caught up with Colts receiver Parris Campbell, who also played with the QB at Ohio State, to inquire about the 15th overall pick. 

"I asked him, 'Listen, I'm a diehard Redskins fan, what am I getting?'" Berry said. "He couldn't have been more effusive. 'You're not only getting a guy who puts the ball where you want it, but you're getting a leader. You're getting a guy who makes sure everyone in the huddle is included.'"

You can be skeptical of how much these little moments mean, and that's fair. Ultimately, how quickly Haskins picks up Jay Gruden's playbook and how accurate his arm turns out to be will factor more into his success in the NFL than being able to joke around a bit with some of his guys.

But you can also hope that these little moments are hints of a bigger personality and approach, a look into an athlete who can get a football team to buy into him. That's the side Berry is on.

"I thought that was really cool, and just showed somebody who's very comfortable in the leadership position and who's trying to be inclusive of everyone," he said. "It's early in the process, but I have yet to hear somebody on or off the record say something bad about Dwayne Haskins."


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WNBA Finals loss only more fuel for Elena Delle Donne, Mystics heading into 2019 season

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WNBA Finals loss only more fuel for Elena Delle Donne, Mystics heading into 2019 season

For Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics, last season's heartbreak in the WNBA Finals is only fuel for another potential postseason run in 2019. 

"That's something I don't think I'll ever let go," Washington's star forward told Chris Miller on the latest episode of the Wizards Talk podcast. "It's always tough when you get to that Finals and you can't finish it off. But I think it's something that can fuel you. You don't want to let it just bring you down and depress you and make it so you can't get over that hump."

"If you use it as fuel and motivation, it can help you get better. I think that's what we're all gonna do."

The Mystics reached their first WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2018 but ultimately lost to the Seattle Storm. Delle Donne, recently named in's GM survey as the favorite to win league MVP, is back for her third season in Washington and headlines a strong team that has the talent to compete for the title again.

Her status for Saturday's season opener against the Connecticut Sun is up in the air due to a left knee injury, but Delle Donne believes the Mystics will have another great season given the continuity on the roster from last season and the return of All-Star forward Emma Meesseman. 

"We feel great. We've got our core back," said Delle Donne. "And to be able to add a superstar like Emma to that roster is pretty scary. Especially with her style of play and the way that our team started playing last season, where it was such positionless basketball. Spreading the floor, just spreading it, making it easy for one another to attack, get some threes. She's just gonna add so much to that."

NBC Sports Washington will be broadcasting 10 Mystics home games during the 2019 WNBA season. For the full regular season schedule, click here.