Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Historical Signifiance of Bucs' Rushing Attack

Football Geekery: Once again this year we channel our inner pigskin nerd and dive a little deeper into the statistics to help illuminate Buc football…This week: 1,000-yard RB duos, overtime road wins and more.

Statistics can help illuminate the game of football…or they can take us down a misleading path.  As Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith said: "I believe in stats, but it's [which] stats."

Smith, for instance, doesn't pay much attention to the NFL's defensive rankings, since they are based on yards, which he considers a meaningless measure.  When he shares defensive stats with his team, he focuses on points allowed, takeaways, scoring on defense and red zone proficiency.

Here on Buccaneers.com, we unabashedly love stats, but we also understand the need to wield them wisely.  Sometimes, we can get a better feel for why the team is performing as it is by going a little deeper into the numbers. Other times, we simply want to point out a few numbers we consider interesting, and hope you will find it interesting as well.

That's our goal with Football Geekery.  Each week, we're going to give you a sampling of statistical and/or historical analysis, hopefully in a way that is relevant to the Buccaneers' current state of affairs.  This week, noting that both Doug Martin and Charles Sims are on pace to surpass 1,000 yards from scrimmage this year, we look at the history of such duos and what it has meant for their teams. We also share a surprising stat about the Buccaneers in overtime games on the road and look more closely at the team's recent domination in the turnover department. Let's get started.

1. Four-Digit Duo

The Buccaneers rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game and are close to cracking the top 10 in the overall offensive rankings in large part because they've gotten great production out of the running back tandem of Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Martin has three 100-yard rushing games already and is running with the power and moves that made him a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2012. Sims, whose rookie season was largely washed out by an ankle injury, has emerged in his second season as the exact sort of backfield complement the Bucs thought he could be when they spent a third-round pick on him in 2014.

With 748 yards from scrimmage through seven games, Martin ranks sixth in the NFL in that category and is on pace to finish the season with 1,709. Sims has added 440 yards from scrimmage, split almost evenly down the middle between rushing and receiving, and that puts him on pace to get to 1,006 by season's end.

If Martin and Sims both surpass 1,000 yards from scrimmage, it would be the first time a Tampa Bay running back duo has done that since 1999. The "Thunder & Lightning" pairing of Mike Alstott (1,188) and Warrick Dunn (1,205) helped power that '99 Buccaneers team all the way to the NFC Championship Game. They are the only pair of Buccaneer running backs ever to accomplish that dual feat.

That's not terribly surprising, because the 1,000-yard double-dip may not be as common as you think. The only team to do it last season was Cincinnati, with the pairing of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. It's been 25 years since a Chicago Bears duo has done it, 30 since the San Francisco 49ers had such a combo. The Jets, Titans, Ravens, Eagles and Panthers have never had such a pairing, even though you can probably think of a some memorable running back duos in the history of each of those franchises.

From the 1970 AFL-NFL merger through last season, a period of 45 years, there were 60 teams that sported a pair of running backs that each cracked 1,000 yards from scrimmage. That's roughly one-and-a-third teams per season. It was far more common of an occurrence in the '70s, even though the league didn't go from a 14-game schedule to a 16-game schedule until 1978. There were 26 such duos in the 1970s, and another 17 in the 1980s, but only five in the 1990s. There were another six from 2000-09, and there have been another six during the first half of the current decade, which does indicate something of an uptick in frequency of the occurrence. Half of those pairings were during the 2013 season: Buffalo (Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller), Detroit (Reggie Bush and Joique Bell) and San Diego (Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead).

Here are all 60 of those 1,000-yard running back duos since the merger:

Season/Tm

RB #1

Yards

RB #2

Yards

W

L

T

PL

1971 DET

Steve Owens

1385

Altie Taylor

1006

7

6

1

1971 GB

John Brockington

1203

Donny Anderson

1063

4

8

2

1971 MIA

Larry Csonka

1164

Jim Kiick

1076

10

3

1

Y

1971 SF

Vic Washington

1128

Ken Willard

1057

9

5

0

Y

1972 ATL

Art Malone

1383

Dave Hampton

1239

7

7

0

1972 DAL

Calvin Hill

1400

Walt Garrison

1174

10

4

0

Y

1972 GB

John Brockington

1270

MacArthur Lane

1106

10

4

0

Y

1972 MIA

Mercury Morris

1168

Larry Csonka

1165

14

0

0

Y

1972 OAK

Marv Hubbard

1203

Charlie Smith

1039

10

3

1

Y

1972 SD

Mike Garrett

1276

Cid Edwards

1236

4

8

1

1973 CIN

Essex Johnson

1353

Boobie Clark

1335

10

4

0

Y

1973 DEN

Floyd Little

1402

Joe Dawkins

1035

7

5

2

1973 LAN

Lawrence McCutcheon

1386

Jim Bertelsen

1121

12

2

0

Y

1973 MIA

Larry Csonka

1025

Mercury Morris

1005

12

2

0

Y

1974 NE

Mack Herron

1298

Sam Cunningham

1025

7

7

0

1975 BUF

O.J. Simpson

2243

Jim Braxton

1105

8

6

0

1975 STL

Terry Metcalf

1194

Jim Otis

1145

11

3

0

Y

1976 NE

Sam Cunningham

1123

Andy Johnson

1042

11

3

0

Y

1976 PIT

Rocky Bleier

1330

Franco Harris

1279

10

4

0

Y

1976 SF

Delvin Williams

1486

Wilbur Jackson

1116

8

6

0

1977 CLE

Greg Pruitt

1557

Cleo Miller

1047

6

8

0

1978 CHI

Walter Payton

1875

Roland Harper

1332

7

9

0

1978 DET

Dexter Bussey

1199

Horace King

1056

7

9

0

1978 MIN

Chuck Foreman

1145

Rickey Young

1121

8

7

1

Y

1979 CIN

Archie Griffin

1105

Pete Johnson

1019

4

12

0

1979 NO

Chuck Muncie

1506

Tony Galbreath

1192

8

8

0

1980 ATL

William Andrews

1764

Lynn Cain

1137

12

4

0

Y

1980 DET

Billy Sims

1924

Dexter Bussey

1084

9

7

0

1980 GB

Eddie Lee Ivery

1312

Gerry Ellis

1041

5

10

1

1981 BAL

Curtis Dickey

1198

Randy McMillan

1063

2

14

0

1983 CHI

Walter Payton

2028

Matt Suhey

1110

8

8

0

1983 DAL

Tony Dorsett

1608

Ron Springs

1130

12

4

0

Y

1983 SF

Roger Craig

1152

Wendell Tyler

1141

10

6

0

Y

1983 WAS

John Riggins

1376

Joe Washington

1226

14

2

0

Y

1984 SF

Wendell Tyler

1492

Roger Craig

1324

15

1

0

Y

1985 CLE

Earnest Byner

1462

Kevin Mack

1401

8

8

0

Y

1985 NE

Craig James

1587

Tony Collins

1206

11

5

0

Y

1985 PIT

Frank Pollard

1241

Walter Abercrombie

1060

7

9

0

1985 SF

Roger Craig

2066

Wendell Tyler

1021

10

6

0

Y

1986 DAL

Herschel Walker

1574

Tony Dorsett

1015

7

9

0

1986 PIT

Walter Abercrombie

1272

Earnest Jackson

1079

6

10

0

1988 CIN

Ickey Woods

1265

James Brooks

1218

12

4

0

Y

1988 SEA

John L. Williams

1528

Curt Warner

1179

9

7

0

Y

1990 CHI

Neal Anderson

1562

Brad Muster

1116

11

5

0

Y

1990 SEA

John L. Williams

1413

Derrick Fenner

1002

9

7

0

1995 AZ

Garrison Hearst

1313

Larry Centers

1216

4

12

0

1995 MIA

Bernie Parmalee

1223

Terry Kirby

1032

9

7

0

Y

1999 TB

Warrick Dunn

1205

Mike Alstott

1188

11

5

0

Y

2005 DEN

Mike Anderson

1226

Tatum Bell

1025

13

3

0

Y

2006 JAX

Fred Taylor

1388

Maurice Jones-Drew

1377

8

8

0

2007 JAX

Fred Taylor

1260

Maurice Jones-Drew

1175

11

5

0

Y

2007 MIN

Adrian Peterson

1609

Chester Taylor

1125

8

8

0

2008 NYG

Derrick Ward

1409

Brandon Jacobs

1125

12

4

0

Y

2009 CAR

DeAngelo Williams

1369

Jonathan Stewart

1272

8

8

0

2010 KC

Jamaal Charles

1935

Thomas Jones

1018

10

6

0

Y

2011 HOU

Arian Foster

1841

Ben Tate

1040

10

6

0

Y

2013 BUF

Fred Jackson

1277

C.J. Spiller

1118

6

10

0

2013 DET

Reggie Bush

1512

Joique Bell

1197

7

9

0

2013 SD

Ryan Mathews

1444

Danny Woodhead

1034

9

7

0

Y

2014 CIN

Jeremy Hill

1339

Giovani Bernard

1029

10

5

1

Y

The Bucs' recent run of five wins in seven overtime tries has brought the franchise back to .500 all-time in overtime play. In 33 overtime games, the Bucs are 16-16-1. That includes a 7-5-1 record at home and a 9-11 mark on the road.

3. Dominating TO Ratio

Photos of the Bucs vs. the Giants over the years.

The Buccaneers are essentially one late-game defensive stop in Washington from being on a three-game winning streak, having sandwiched that 31-30 defeat in Week Seven between wins over Jacksonville and Atlanta. The single most important factor in that run has been the turnover ratio.

Remarkably, the Buccaneers have taken the ball away seven times in the last three games while giving it away just once…and that lone turnover was a desperation pitch by Sims on the Bucs' final play from scrimmage in Washington. Even more remarkably, the Buccaneers have scored after every single one of those takeaways, while Sims' fumble was essentially the end of that game against the Redskins.

Overall, the Buccaneers have scored 41 points off turnovers in the last three games and allowed none. Neither one of those things is a common occurrence for the team. Here are the last times either one of those things has happened…

Scored 40 or more points off turnovers in a three game span: Sept. 14-28, 2008.

Photos from the Bucs' practice on Wednesday, November 4th, at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa.

During a three-game winning streak during the opening month of the '08 campaign, the Buccaneers dispatched of Atlanta by a 24-9 score in Week Two, won in overtime at Chicago by a 27-24 margin and took down the Packers in Tampa, 30-21. The team forced a total of eight turnovers over the course of those three weeks, turning five of them into touchdowns and two into field goals for a total of 41 points. Two of the five touchdowns were return scores by the defense.

That's almost identical to the Bucs' current streak, in which they've turned seven takeaways into five touchdowns, two on defensive returns, and two field goals. The only difference is an extra takeaway in 2008 that did not result in any points.

Allowed zero points off turnovers during a three-game stretch: Nov. 6-20, 2011

This was a home-and-away pair of games against the Saints with a visit from Chicago in the middle. The Bucs did not turn the ball over in either game against the Saints. They did suffer four giveaways against the Bears, but none of them resulted in points for Chicago (one was immediately followed by a scoring play, but to the Buccaneers' benefit since it was a safety when Ronde Barber tackled Matt Forte in the end zone).

This particular streak didn't work out as well, as the Buccaneers lost all three. And they made up for that scoreless streak by allowing 13 touchdowns and three field goals off turnovers in the next eight contests to close out the season.

Scored 40 or more points off turnovers AND allowed zero points off turnovers in the same three game span: Nov. 4-25, 2007

The Buccaneers were four and four at the  midpoint of the 2007 season, but a four-game winning streak would follow to help them make a run to the NFC South division title. The first three games of that run were comprised of a 17-10 home win over Arizona, a 31-7 drubbing of Atlanta on the road and a 19-13 victory over Washington at Raymond James Stadium.

The Buccaneers' only two turnovers in that span were a pair of fumbles in Atlanta, but neither one resulted in points for the opposing team. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's defense took the ball away from the Cardinals, Redskins and Falcons a combined 12 times and turned eight of them into scores. Specifically, they scored four touchdowns (one on a defensive return) and four field goals for a total of 40 points.

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