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Bucs offense riding running back Rachaad White into playoff contention

The second-year back on Sunday had his second 100-yard rushing day in his past three games.
 
Bucs running back Rachaad White (1) completes a catch-and-run for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Bud Dupree (48) gives chase during the second half of Sunday's game in Atlanta.
Bucs running back Rachaad White (1) completes a catch-and-run for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Bud Dupree (48) gives chase during the second half of Sunday's game in Atlanta. [ MIKE STEWART | AP ]
Published Dec. 11, 2023

TAMPA — Rachaad White is carrying the Bucs offense with his legs, which pumped like pistons Sunday and made the unit go.

White rushed for 102 yards on 25 carries and scored Tampa Bay’s second touchdown on a 31-yard catch and run from Baker Mayfield.

It was White’s second 100-yard rushing effort in the past three games. He reached the century rushing mark only once last season as a rookie.

He ranks third among running backs in scrimmage yards this season, behind only the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey and Jaguars’ Travis Etienne.

Head coach Todd Bowles credited White’s maturation.

“Not just learning the scheme, but becoming an every-down back and understanding what it takes to play week in and week out instead of going through the ups and downs of the rollercoaster,” Bowles said.

“He’s really settled in and become a leader. He’s become a workhorse. He understands the grind every week, and he knows when to run in there and when to bounce it out. The maturation process has been really good.”

For once, the Bucs got some help for White Sunday. Backup Chase Edmonds pitched in with eight carries for 40 yards and two receptions for 18 yards.

“Chase had some tough runs. He went in there and spelled Rachaad and got some very positive runs,” Bowles said. “He broke out a few times. It’s good to have a 1-2 punch like that where you can get Rachaad some rest. It finally showed up this game.”

White’s touchdown reception gave the Bucs a 19-10 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. He broke one tackle and used his speed to get into the end zone.

He needs 255 yards to become the Bucs’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Doug Martin in 2015.

“It’s mentally, man,” White said. “It’s a trust factor in all phases and us just getting in a rhythm. Keep fighting. If things aren’t going well early in a game, we’re not bickering. We’re pushing each other. We’re very confident and understanding of who we’ve got on our side of the football.”

It was the sixth game this season and third in a row White has had at least 100 yards from scrimmage. McCaffrey leads the NFL with nine.

Chasing perfection

Bucs place-kicker Chase McLaughlin connected on a 55-yard field in the opening quarter to convert his fifth field goal of 50-plus yards this season. He is now 22-for-27 (81.5%) in his career on attempts of 50 or more yards — the second-best field-goal percentage from that distance in the NFL since he entered the league in 2018 (minimum 15 attempts). McLaughlin made both of his field-goal attempts (38, 55) and all three of his extra-point tries in the game.

Rookies shine again

Bucs defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and outside linebacker YaYa Diaby continue to make big plays for the Bucs.

Kancey tallied his fourth sack of the season, tying him for fifth-most among rookies. Diaby is tied for third among rookies with five sacks. Both players had three tackles Sunday.

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McCollum making a name

Bucs second-year cornerback Zyon McCollum is playing himself into a starting role.

McCollum had his best game Sunday, leading the team with nine tackles, to go along with two passes defensed and one forced fumble.

He has been filling in all season for either Carlton Davis or Jamel Dean, who was inactive. But with games like Sunday’s, it will be hard to take McCollum off the field.

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