One thousand, eight hundred and sixty-five days passed between Jacquizz Rodgers' NFL debut and his first 100-yard rushing game. Thirteen days passed between that and his second 100-yard rushing game, and it was only that long because of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' bye week.
Rodgers is just the 10th back in Buccaneers history to have back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts, and surely the most unlikely. He is just the third of those 10 to have started his career somewhere other than Tampa, joining Michael Pittman and LeGarrette Blount, and in fact Rodgers wasn't even on NFL roster when the 2016 season began. The Buccaneers signed him on September 13, reuniting him with Head Coach Dirk Koetter, who was his offensive coordinator for three seasons in Atlanta.
Rodgers got his first start as a Buccaneer in Week Five, in a Monday Night Football contest in Carolina. He rushed a career-high 30 times for 101 yards in a victory over the Panthers. In his second start, on Sunday in San Francisco, Rodgers ran 26 times for 154 yards, the 13th-highest single-game total in franchise annals. With that performance, Rodgers joined Cadillac Williams as the only two players in team history to gain top 100 rushing yards in their first two Buccaneer starts. Williams actually did it in each of his first three games, and his cleats ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of it.
Rodgers, amazingly, has set his own single-game career high twice in the last two games, in his sixth season in the NFL.Here are the top five games, by rushing yardage, in this increasingly entertaining Quizz Show:
Rodgers has 255 rushing yards in his last two games. Prior to joining the Buccaneers, he had 258 rushing yards in his last two seasons. With a total of 324 yards in 2016, he needs only 39 more to break his single-season career high of 362, set with Atlanta in 2012.
Rodgers, whose previous single-game high for carries was that 18-tote performance against Miami listed above, has become an unlikely workhorse for the Buccaneers in the absence of Doug Martin. In fact, he joins Martin as two of the five running backs in team history who have had consecutive games with at least 25 carries. James Wilder dominates the list, but otherwise, Rodgers, Martin and Errict Rhett have each done it once.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' game against the 49ers.
Rodgers' biggest play in Sunday's win over the 49ers was a 45-yard run in the second quarter, which set up a Roberto Aguayo field goal. That was the longest run of his career, and it was the Bucs' longest of the game, but only barely. Rookie RB Peyton Barber salted the game away in the fourth quarter with a 44-yard touchdown run, the longest of his (very brief) career. That marked the first time in Buccaneer history that two different players each had a carry of 40 yards or longer in the same game.
With that long run, Barber finished the game with 84 yards on 12 carries. Had he tallied 16 more yards, he would have joined Rodgers in duplicating a feat that has only happened once in team history. The "Thunder & Lightning" duo of Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn rushed for 128 and 115 yards, respectively, in a win over the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 1, 1998, marking the only time that two Buccaneer backs have cracked 100 yards in the same game.
Even as an 80-80 pair, however, Rodgers and Barber pulled off a rare feat in Buc history. That was, in fact, the first time since the aforementioned Minnesota game – nearly two decades later – that two Buccaneer backs each surpassed 80 yards in the same outing. That has only happened six times in team annals, and Sunday's game was the first time it has occurred in a road game in 28 years.
Two Buccaneers with 80+ Rushing Yards in the Same Game
Rodgers and Barber led the Buccaneers to a total of 249 rushing yards on Sunday, the fourth-highest single-game total the team has ever logged. Not surprisingly, the Buccaneers have won every game in the top five on that list. They've also scored at least 27 points in each of those five games, and averaged exactly 35 points across the five contests.
Most Rushing Yards, Single Game, Buccaneers History
Overall, Tampa Bay finished the win over the 49ers with 513 net yards of offense, tied for the fourth-most in a single gamein team history. The Buccaneers have now cracked 500 yards in six games, and half of them have come in the last two years, with Dirk Koetter calling the plays. Now the team's head coach, Koetter was the Buccaneers' offensive coordinator in 2015. Tampa Bay also put up 472 yards of total offense in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week Three, which is the 11th-highest mark in team history. Five of those 11 have come with Koetter at the helm of the offense.
Most Net Yards, Single Game, Buccaneers History
We added columns showing the breakdown of those overall yardage totals into passing and rushing yards in order to highlight how balanced Tampa Bay's attack was on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. As you can see, that game marked the first time that the Buccaneers have ever surpassed 240 yards passing and 240 yards rushing in the same game. Running into a stacked defense on the Bucs' final play from scrimmage on Sunday, Barber lost a yard; otherwise, this would have been a cleaner 250/250 combination.
Still, the Buccaneers are one of only two teams to have fielded such a balanced and productive offense in a single game in 2016, with at least 240 rushing yards and 240 passing yards in the same outing. The Cincinnati Bengals pulled off the same feat on the same day, with 288 passing yards and 271 rushing yards in a win over Cleveland on Sunday. That's not a particularly common occurrence; in fact, it has happened only 56 times since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, an average of just 1.2 times per season across the entire NFL.
Tampa Bay's offense also moved the chains with regularity on Sunday, compiling 27 total first downs. That's tied for the 10th-best single-game mark in franchise history, but it's not even the Bucs' top total of 2016. Tampa Bay also had 30 first downs in that aforementioned Week Three outing against the Rams, which tied the team record. Overall, the Buccaneers have 133 first downs through six games in 2013, an average of 22.2 per contest. If they can maintain that pace, the Bucs would finish the campaign with 355 first downs, which would break the team record, set at 344 in 1984.
Tampa Bay's 94-yard march ending in Mike Evans' four-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter on Sunday was the team's longest scoring drive of the season so far, surpassing a 92-yarder in the Week One win over Atlanta. The Bucs also had two 77-yard TD drives in the win over the Niners, which means three of their four longest scoring possessions of the year came in the same game.
Comparable drive data is available on the excellent Pro Football Reference website back through the 1998 season. Since then, the Buccaneers have only produced three TD drives of 77 or more yards in the same game eight times, and half of them have come under Koetter's direction. The Bucs pulled off the same feat last year in wins over Atlanta (Dec. 6) and Philadelphia (Nov. 22) and in a loss to Carolina (Oct. 4).