The Buccaneers accomplished their top goal on Sunday in their 2012 season finale at Atlanta, taking down their division rivals, 22-17, to finish Greg Schiano’s first season on a high note. Perhaps they built momentum for the offseason; perhaps they learned a little about how to win; perhaps they gained confidence that they have the right building blocks on both offense and defense. At the very least, they got one more victory to enjoy.
Secondary to that, but not unimportant, were a variety of team and individual records and milestones that could have been achieved Sunday…and many of them were. Since we’ve been alerting you to the various record-book possibilities here in the Captain’s Blog for a few weeks now, it makes sense to run down exactly which records and notable achievements were reached on Sunday in Atlanta. We’ll even take a look at a few numbers that didn’t quite fall, because they still add to the overall picture of what the Buccaneers were able to accomplish in 2012.
Without further ado:
* QB Josh Freeman took down a series of milestones on Sunday. His touchdown pass to Mike Williams in the second quarter gave him 27 on the season and 78 in his Buccaneer career, and that makes him both the single-season record-holder and the career record-holder in franchise history. Brad Johnson threw 26 TD passes in 2003; Vinny Testaverde tossed 77 of them from 1987-92. Freeman had already set the team’s single-season passing-yardage mark the week before, but his 222 yards on Sunday pushed him to 4,065 on the year, making him the first 4,000-yard passer in franchise history. Freeman finished his fourth NFL season with 12,963 career passing yards, meaning he needs just seven more to pass Trent Dilfer for second place on the Bucs’ all-time list.
* RB Doug Martin didn’t grab any more Buccaneer records on Sunday, but his 160-yard performance did add a few flavorful notes to his incredible rookie season. Those combined rushing and receiving yards pushed his season total to 1,926 and, amazingly, that is the third-highest total in NFL history by a rookie. Only Eric Dickerson in 1983 and Edgerrin James in 1999 did better. Martin’s final total was the second-best mark for all players in Buccaneer franchise history, trailing only James Wilder’s 2,229 in 1984. Martin’s 1,454 rushing yards are also the second-most in team history to Wilder’s 1,544 in that same 1984 campaign. Martin scored once again, giving him a final total of 12, also the second-best Buc mark ever. Yes, it was Wilder in 1984 who set the record, at 13.
* WR Vincent Jackson needed 89 yards on Sunday to surpass Mark Carrier’s Buc record of 1,422, set in 1989, but he finished with “only” 50. However, his final total of 1,384 yards is the second-best mark in team annals. Jackson also finished the year with a yards-per-catch figure of 19.2, which will end up as the NFL’s top mark in 2012. That will make him the first Buccaneer player ever to lead the NFL in that category.
* WR Mike Williams, sadly, did not make it to 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He finished with 996 after leading the team on Sunday with 65 yards on six catches and scoring the game’s first touchdown. That is a new career high for Williams, however.
* The Buccaneers offense scored 22 points in the season finale to give it 389 on the season, and that was just enough to set a new franchise record. The old mark was 388, established in 2000.
* The Buccaneers offense also ran its season yardage total to 5,820, and that is a new franchise record, too, by a pretty wide margin. The old mark was 5,456 in 2008. That’s a quantum leap forward. When the 2008 team set the record, it was by just three yards over the 5,453 the team put up in 2003. And that 2003 squad was just 122 yards better than the mark of 5,321 set in 1984.
* The Buccaneers defense allowed only 65 rushing yards on Sunday, bringing its 2012 per-game average down to 82.5. Not only is that the lowest single-season average in team history, it also marks the first time that Tampa Bay has led the NFL in that category.