The first thing that greeted Buccaneer RB Doug Martin when he emerged from the O.co Coliseum on Sunday was a row of tables waiting for the players stacked high with In-N-Out Burgers, a Cali favorite. The second was a huge group of people, many of them wearing red #22 jerseys, waiting specifically for him.
Can’t ask for a better taste of home than that.
Martin, the Oakland-born Buccaneers rookie running back who played his prep ball in the Bay area before heading off to Boise State and then the NFL, had just turned in one of the greatest games by a running back in NFL history. That it came in his hometown, with so many friends and family members on hand, made it that much sweeter.
Martin passed the table of burgers and the waiting buses and walked over to the cordoned area of Buccaneer fans, where he received a hero’s welcome. And no wonder – from a football standpoint, he was very much a hero on this day. There are many ways to slice up the incredible damage he inflicted on the Oakland defense – 251 rushing yards, 272 total yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns, 10.0 yards per carry – but here are two that frame it pretty well: 1) He is just the second player in league history to rush for 250+ yards and four TDs in one game; and 2) He is the first player in NFL annals to have a 45+-yard, 65+-yard and 70+-yard TD run on the same day.
Martin would have been greeted with open arms at the huddle near the Bucs’ buses no matter what happened on Sunday, but given his afternoon the cheers were enormous.
“It’s an exciting accomplishment,” he said. “It’s even more exciting that I did it at home, my hometown, being around much of my family and friends. It was very special. They were very excited to see me after the game and I was excited to see them. It couldn’t happen any better.”
Martin’s team won, too, which made it that much more satisfying, especially in the stadium he used to visit during his childhood. Martin set a handful of Buccaneer records (most rushing yards in a game, most scrimmage yards in a game, most rushing TDs in a game) and put up the 10th-best single-game rushing mark in NFL history.
“Couldn’t have scripted a better [homecoming],” Martin agreed, almost shyly, on Monday. “It happened perfectly.”