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Rachaad White Powers Resurgent Ground Game

Data Crunch: Second-year RB Rachaad White is among the NFL's leaders at his position in yards from scrimmage in 2023 after another 100-yard outing in Atlanta

data crunch

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Atlanta Falcons, 29-25, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, and one of the deciding factors in a game that saw two lead changes in the last four minutes was the Buccaneers' superiority in the run game.

As Head Coach Todd Bowles noted after the game, that was a "very rare" occurrence because the Falcons came into the game with the NFL's sixth-best rushing attack. Moreover, Tampa Bay's run game ranked 30th coming into the game and was averaging almost exactly 50 fewer yards per game than Atlanta. Yet it was the Buccaneers with 148 yards on the ground by the end of the game, 52 more than the 96 compile by the Falcons.

This marked the third game in a row in which the Buccaneers have set a new season high in rushing yards, following a 125-yard outing in Indianapolis in Week 12 and a 128-yard game in a win over Carolina in Week 13. Tampa Bay's 401 rushing yards over the last three weeks ranks sixth in the NFL.

Powering that resurgent ground game is second-year man Rachaad White, who has quietly emerged as one of the most productive running backs in the NFL. White currently ranks fourth in the NFL at his position in yards from scrimmage in 2023.

Most Yards from Scrimmage, NFL Running Backs, 2023

Table inside Article
Running Back Team Yards
Christian McCaffrey San Francisco 1,461
Travis Etienne Jacksonville 1,189
James Cook Buffalo 1,180
Rachaad White Tampa Bay 1,164
Bijan Robinson Atlanta 1,110

White had 102 yards on 25 carries in Atlanta, recording his second 100-yard game of the season. He also caught two passes for 33 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown on a screen in the third quarter. White now has seven touchdowns on the season, five rushing and two receiving. He has now exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage in six games this season, including the last three in a row. He is the first Buccaneer running back with three consecutive games of 100-plus yards from scrimmage since Leonard Fournette in 2021, from Weeks 4-6. Overall, White is tied for the second most games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage among NFL backs.

Most Games with 100-Plus Yards from Scrimmage, NFL Running Backs, 2023

1. Christian McCaffrey, 49ers: 9

2t. Rachaad White, Buccaneers: 6

2t. James Cook, Bills: 6

2t. Derrick Henry, Titans: 6

2t. Kyren Williams, Rams: 6

The Buccaneers' other two touchdowns against the Falcons were scored on a one-yard run by quarterback Baker Mayfield in the second quarter and an 11-yard reception by tight end Cade Otton in the fourth quarter. Mayfield's score was his first rushing touchdown as a Buccaneer and the seventh of his career. Otton's trip to the end zone provided the Buccaneers' game-winning points with 31 seconds left in regulation. It marked the second time in his career that Otton has caught a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of a Buccaneers victory. Tom Brady's one-yard TD pass to Otton on November 6, 2022 gave Tampa Bay a 16-13 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Otton's score was the 12th play of a clutch 75-yard drive that included one fourth-and-one conversion and one third-and-10 conversion. The latter was a 32-yard reception by wide receiver Chris Godwin, who led the team with five receptions for 53 yards. Godwin was playing in the 100th regular season game of his career, and the first of his five receptions on the day happened to be the 500th of his career, making him the 30th player in NFL history with 500-plus receptions in his first 100 games. Godwin is just the second Buccaneer to reach that mark.

Most Receptions, Buccaneers History

Table inside Article
Player Seasons Recs.
Mike Evans 2014-23 745
Chris Godwin 2017-23 504
James Wilder 1981-89 430
Mark Carrier 1987-92 321
Warrick Dunn 1997-2001; 2008 306

The Bucs' other nine points on offense Sunday were provided by kicker Chase McLaughlin, who made field goals of 55 and 38 yards and all three of his extra point tries. McLaughlin has made 21 of his 23 field goal attempts in 2023, his first year with the Buccaneers, and his only two misses were blocked kicks. He is five for six from 50 yards and beyond this season and 22 of 27 from that range in his career. McLaughlin's field goal percentage on kicks of 50 or more yards ranks second in the NFL since he entered the league in 2018.

Best Success Rate, 50+ Yard Field Goal Attempts, NFL, 2018-23

(minimum 15 attempts)

Table inside Article
Kicker Team(s) Made Att. Pct.
Chris Boswell PIT 23 28 82.1%
Chase McLaughlin Seven teams 22 27 81.5%
Graham Gano CAR/NYG/WAS 26 33 78.8%
Daniel Carlson LV/MIN 25 32 78.1%
Younghoe Koo ATL 23 30 76.7%

Overall, McLaughlin's five successful field goals of 50 or more yards are tied for the second most in a single season for the Buccaneers. Connor Barth made six of them in 2012, Martin Gramatica hit on five of them in two different seasons (2000, 2002) and both Matt Gay (2019) and Patrick Murray (2014) did it five times in a season once.

Of McLaughlin's five successful field goals from 50 yards and beyond, four have been from 55 yards out or further. He has made two 55-yarders and two 57-yarders and now accounts for four of the 17 field goals in team history from 55 or further. McLaughlin is the first kicker in Buccaneers history with more than two field goals of 55-plus yards in a season and the first in team history with more than three such field goals for the franchise in a career.

Tampa Bay's defense also provided two points on the first safety the team has scored since the 2020 season (Shaq Barrett in Denver, September 27). Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. sacked quarterback Desmond Ridder in the end zone by stripping the ball from his hand. Fullback Keith Smith recovered for Atlanta but defensive lineman Patrick O'Connor tackled Smith in the end zone for the two-point safety.

That was the 14th safety scored by the Buccaneers in team history, and O'Connor was the ninth different player in team history to be credited with one. Five of the 14 safeties were credited to the team as a whole.

Winfield's sack was his fourth of the season and it gave him 13.0 sacks over the course of his first four years in the league. He is the NFL's sack leader among defensive backs in that span by a wide margin.

Most Sacks, NFL Defensive Backs, 2020-23

Table inside Article
Defensive Back Team(s) Sacks
Antoine Winfield Jr. Buccaneers 13.0
Jamal Adams Seahawks 9.5
Donovan Wilson Cowboys 8.5
Brandon Jones Dolphins 8.0
Isaiah Simmons Cardinals/Giants 7.5

Winfield's forced fumble was his team-high fourth of the season and he is tied for third in that category in the NFL, behind the Chargers' Khalil Mack and the Chiefs' Trent McDuffie, both of whom have five. Winfield's nine forced fumbles since he entered the league in 2020 are second among defensive backs in that span behind only 10 for Baltimore's Marlon Humphrey. Winfield and Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins are the only two defensive backs since 2000 to have at least three sacks, at least three forced fumbles and at least three fumble recoveries in a single season. Dawkins did it in 2002.

The other two sacks recorded by the Buccaneers' defense in Atlanta belonged to defensive linemen Greg Gaines and Calijah Kancey. It was Gaines' first sack as a Buccaneer, while Kancey recorded the fourth of his rookie season. Kancey was also credited with a tackle for loss and now has nine on the season, which is the most among all NFL rookies in 2023.

Most Tackles for Loss, NFL Rookies, 2023

1. Calijah Kancey, Tampa Bay: 9

2t. Will Anderson, Houston: 8

2t. Tui Tuipulotu, L.A. Chargers: 8

4t. Yaya Diaby, Tampa Bay: 7

4t. Brian Branch, Detroit: 7

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