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Martin, Buccaneers race past Vikings, 36-17

Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin runs from Jamarca Sanford. (Associated Press)
Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin runs from Jamarca Sanford. (Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS – Rookie Doug Martin racked up 214 total yards and two touchdowns, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blew out Minnesota 36-17 on Thursday night to hand the Vikings their first home loss this season.

Martin took a screen pass 64 yards for a score, one of three Josh Freeman touchdown passes, to give Tampa Bay a 27-10 lead 1:21 into the second half.

Then Martin, a first-round draft pick from Boise State, capped a drive of more than 9 minutes with a 1-yard muscle into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter to crush the comeback opportunity for Minnesota (5-3).

Adrian Peterson had a season-long 64-yard run for a score that brought the Vikings to 30-17, but his lost fumble in Minnesota territory in the second quarter led to a touchdown by the Buccaneers (3-4).

The Bucs, who became just the second visiting team to win on a Thursday night in seven games this season, revived their struggling pass rush with three sacks and flustered quarterback Christian Ponder with a heavy dose of blitzes. Ponder finished 19 for 35 for 251 yards, one touchdown and a late interception at the end of a desperation drive.

With a 13-point lead and just trying to keep that clock running as quickly as possible, the Bucs could’ve gone conservative, but they refused to settle for a punt. Starting at their own 13 with 1:12 left in the third quarter, they plowed their way up the field – Freeman completed four third-and-long passes – and finished off the game with Martin’s third-and-goal touchdown run with 7:03 remaining.

Freeman went 19 for 36 for 262 yards.

Mike Williams had one of the touchdowns and 68 yards on six receptions, and the Bucs held the ball for nearly 38 of the 60 minutes.

With two games apiece against division rivals Chicago and Green Bay plus road trips to Seattle and Houston in the second half of their schedule, the Vikings have a challenge waiting for them.

The Buccaneers won only two of new coach Greg Schiano’s first six games, but all four of their losses were by seven points or less.