On a day where Doug Martin could’ve taken a commanding lead for the rushing title and staked his claim as the best back in 2015, he instead ran for just 49 yards – his third lowest total of the season – and put the ball on the turf twice, costing his team 10 points in the process.
“Right now it feels like a bad dream. That’s out of character for me to fumble the ball twice in one game,” said Martin, who fumbled three times in his career before the season. “I’m embarrassed. It’s frustrating.”
While both fumbles involved helmet-to-helmet contact, Martin wasn’t going to use that as an excuse for two errors that ultimately led to the team’s demise in the 26-21 loss.
The first fumble – on second-and-8 in the second quarter – came after Tampa Bay moved 27 yards down the field, setting the Bears up at their own 45-yard line where they would eventually kick a field goal to make it 10-7 game. That blunder, however, pales in comparison to the second one, as Martin fumbled inside the Bucs’ 30-yard line late in the third quarter. With a 14-13 lead, Tampa Bay’s defense held strong after Jameis Winston’s interception but possession and momentum was given right back, as Chicago would score five plays later to take a 20-14 lead.
“Turnovers are why we couldn’t win the game,” Martin said. “We had three and we can’t do that and win games. We emphasize that all the time. It’s easier to say that than do it, but we just have to keep practicing on not turning the ball over.”
The turnover battle has plagued the Bucs all season, especially over the last five games, and Martin is only part of the issue. They’ll have one more opportunity to correct it this season, but even that game lost some excitement.
After another letdown loss, players thought they could at least take solace in knowing they’ll have a chance at knocking off the undefeated Panthers in Carolina. But that won’t entirely be the case.
“That’s unfortunate,” Martin said after finding out the Falcons won, 20-13. “It would’ve been nice for us to beat them, but it’s still a good team and good challenge.”
“It just would’ve been good to go into the final game with them undefeated and have an opportunity to end that,” added Gerald McCoy. “We still have a great opportunity. They’re still, in my opinion, the best team in the NFL.”
While disappointed in another losing season – the fourth in as many years – McCoy said the Bucs have to “enjoy” the final game. One way to do that would be to flip the turnover trend and start the New Year on a positive note.
And for Martin personally, the Pro Bowl running back has had a great season and is still in the hunt for the rushing title. With 1,354, he trails Adrian Peterson by 64 yards and could totally redeem himself – and the team – with a grand finale in Carolina.
“Like I said, I had everything to play for this game and I feel like I let the team down,” Martin said. “It’s tough to swallow but we’re going to prepare for the Panthers next game… We still have one game to finish strong. After the season, we’ll look back on these games and see why we didn’t finish the way we should but it is what it is right now. We getting better and growing up and we’ll be successful team.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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If I were the Bucs, I wouldn’t chastise Martin for his untimely fumbles. I would instead, put my arm around his shoulders and say “Come on in to my office son and let’s get that new contract done”. Never let an opportunity pass you by! lol.
Doug, you gave every team an excuse not offering to pay you more than 5 million a year.
Give Schiano credit for teaching Doug to protect the ball , I think it’s clear Schiano is a much better X’s and O’s and fundamental coach than Lovie . Martin is also a great back when he runs with his head up but he is avg at best when he starts dropping his head .Cant have great vision with your head down and you tend to get crushed a lot , when you get crushed a lot you may fumble a tad more…………. Martin has had a great season and deserves kudos, however I have seen numerous big holes he has missed due to dropping his head , so believe it or not I actually think he can be better.
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