Stopping the run
The Bucs have had reasonable success against some of the top backs in NFL history.
Curtis Martin: The fourth-leading rusher in NFL history, above, faced the Bucs three times. He had one decent game, rushing for 90 yards in 2000 with the Jets. But in two other games (once with the Jets, once with the Patriots), Martin rushed for 26 and 59 yards.
Marshall Faulk: The ninth-leading rusher in NFL history broke 100 yards in his first game against the Bucs, in 1994 with Indianapolis, rushing for 104 yards on 18 carries. But in his six remaining career games against Tampa Bay (one more with Indy and five with the Rams), Faulk rushed for 40, 44, 79, 55, 9 and 40 yards.
Thurman Thomas: The 12th-leading rusher in NFL history faced the Bucs twice, both times with the Bills, and the Bucs shut him down. In 1988 he had a grand total of 1 yard on seven carries. In 1991 he rushed for 54 yards on 17 carries.
Best rushing performances against the Bucs
Four times the Bucs have allowed a 200-yard rushing game to one back. One player did it twice, and if you've followed the Bucs over the years, it's no surprise as to which back that was:
Detroit Lions — Nov. 13, 1994
In the first half of this game at the Pontiac Silverdome, the Bucs contained the NFL's leading rusher at the time to a mere 37 yards. Then came the second half, when Sanders picked up 200. He carried the ball 26 times for 237 yards in the game. No player has rushed for more yards in a game against the Bucs. "That was as good a performance by an individual as you could ever see,'' then-Bucs coach Sam Wyche said afterward. ''In my mind, he'd have to be, right now, the greatest running back playing the game."
Detroit Lions — Oct. 12, 1997
This game might have more impressive than the 1994 game. A month earlier, the Bucs had held Sanders to 20 yards on 10 carries in Detroit. But in this game in Tampa, Sanders had touchdown runs of 80 and 82 yards, and also caught a pass for a touchdown. It could have been worse. Sanders fumbled what appeared to be another sure touchdown. He finished with 215 yards on 24 carries.
Los Angeles Rams — Oct. 5, 1986
Put an asterisk next to this one; Dickerson needed overtime to crack 200. He did it on the last play when he rambled 42 yards for a 26-20 victory in Los Angeles. That run, along with a 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, gave Dickerson 207 yards on 30 carries in a game in which the Bucs, led by quarterback Steve Young, overcame deficits of 14-0 and 17-7.
Houston Oilers — Oct. 19, 1980
The Bucs shouldn't feel too bad about this afternoon in Houston when Campbell carried 33 times for 203 yards. It was one of four 200-yard games Campbell had that season as he led the NFL in rushing with 1,934 yards. Campbell carried the ball for what was a record 373 times that season and averaged 128.9 yards a game and 5.2 yards a carry. No wonder this guy's career lasted only eight seasons.
Best of the best against the Bucs
No running back has had more success in his career than Lions legend Barry Sanders, famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for tearing up the Bucs. In 19 games over 10 seasons, Sanders carried the ball 392 times for an incredible 2,195 yards — about 1.2 miles. More than 14 percent of his career rushing total (15,259 yards) came against the Bucs. Or think of it this way: Sanders' average game against Tampa Bay was 21 carries for 116 yards. He had 11 100-yard rushing games against the Bucs, more than any other back. Here's a game-by-game breakdown of Sanders against the Bucs:
12/17/89 21 104 Lions, 33-7
9/9/90 14 79 Bucs, 38-21
9/23/90 15 52 Bucs, 23-20
9/29/91 27 160 Lions, 31-3
11/10/91 23 118 Bucs, 30-21
9/27/92 20 70 Bucs, 27-23
10/25/92 21 122 Lions, 38-7
10/3/93 22 130 Bucs, 27-10
11/7/93 29 187 Lions, 23-0
10/2/94 20 166 Bucs, 24-14
11/13/94 26 237 Lions, 14-9
11/12/95 19 92 Lions, 27-24
12/23/95 18 48 Lions, 37-10
9/8/96 20 125 Lions, 21-6
9/29/96 15 73 Lions, 27-0
9/7/97 10 20 Bucs, 24-17
10/12/97 24 215 Lions, 27-9
9/28/98 27 131 Lions, 27-6
11/22/98 21 66 Lions, 28-25
Heisman highs and lows
Since 1976 — that's the season the Bucs started playing in the NFL — 15 running backs have won the Heisman Trophy. Of those, 10 have had at least one 100-yard rushing game against the Bucs.
The ten who have
Tony Dorsett Cowboys
Earl Campbell Oilers
George Rogers Saints
Billy Sims Lions
Charles White L.A. Rams
Barry Sanders Lions
Mike Rozier Falcons
Herschel Walker Vikings
Rashaad Salaam Bears
Eddie George Titans
The five who have nOt
Reggie Bush: He has had little success against the Bucs: 23, minus-5, 27, 64 and 51 yards. But you have to think it's only a matter of time before the Saints running back gets 100 against Tampa Bay.
Ron Dayne: The former Wisconsin back, above, has had only three 100-yard games in his career. His lone game against the Bucs was a seven-carry, 17-yard performance with Houston last season.
Ricky Williams: In three career games vs. the Bucs, he has a total of 75 yards on 29 carries.
Marcus Allen: The great USC back faced the Bucs only once, and it was when he was with Kansas City. In that 1993 game, he had 79 yards on 13 carries.
Bo Jackson: Drafted by the Bucs with the first pick in 1986, he never faced the team that he refused to play for.
When Kansas City's Jamaal Charles rushed for 106 yards against the Bucs on Nov. 2, he became the 83rd running back to rush for at least 100 against Tampa Bay. Of those 83, 14 have done it more than once, led by, of course, Barry Sanders, who did it 11 times. Here's a look at the 14:
11 — Barry Sanders
8 — Walter Payton
4 — Deuce McAllister
3 — Neal Anderson, Stump Mitchell, Eric Dickerson
2 — Clinton Portis, Nick Goings, Tyrone Wheatley, Fred Taylor, Ahman Green, Stephen Davis, Raymont Harris, Terry Allen
Rocky Bleier did it. So did the great Matt Suhey. And the immortal Tyrone Wheatley. Heck, he did it twice. Then there's household name Haskel Stanback, who was a household name in the Stanback household. What did all these players do? They had 100-yard rushing games against the Bucs. We bring this up because the NFL's leading rusher, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, is in town today to face the Bucs. That leads us to look at some of the notable rushing performances against the Bucs over their history.