In what is turning into a memorable year for rookies, Doug Martin took the excellence to a record level.
Martin, the Buccaneers' first-round pick, rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-32 victory at Oakland his hometown. He scored on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards in the second half as he gashed what had been an improved run defense for the Raiders (3-5).
Martin, the 31st pick in April out of Boise State, became the first back since at least 1940 to score on three TD runs of at least 45 yards in one game, according to STATS LLC.
About 60 friends and family members witnessed Martin's magic.
"Everybody was there. It was awesome," he said. "It's surreal right now. I'm just doing my job out there. I'm honored."
He finished 45 yards shy of tying Adrian Peterson's single game record of 296 set in his rookie season in 2007 and joined Denver's Mike Anderson as the only backs with at least 250 yards rushing and four TDs in a single game.
"He's turned into a heck of a player here these last two weeks," Bucs veteran safety Ronde Barber said. "He's really jumped onto the scene, just the way he's handled the pressure that he's had to be the main guy here in our offense these past couple of weeks. It's impressive, man."
CBSSports.com's Clark Judge says Martin may actually beat out Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
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"All he's done his last four starts is rush 83 times for 547 yards, average 6.59 yards a carry and scoring six times. Nice, huh? You don't know how nice. At that pace he'd finish with 2188 yards. As it is, Martin is on schedule to finish with 1,588, which means we've got a race for Offensive Rookie of the Year," Judge writes.
But Luck is certainly making a case for himself. He broke the NFL's single-game rookie record by throwing for 433 yards in leading Indianapolis over Miami 23-20. He was 30 of 48 with two TDs and broke Cam Newton's mark of 432 yards set last season. And it came on the day coach Chuck Pagano returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia.
"His presence is felt every day in the facility," Luck said. "But to see him in the flesh, in the locker room, to hear him speak I think gave all the guys a boost."
Luck, the first overall draft pick, showed it the most as Indianapolis (5-3) won its third straight after winning only twice a year ago. He has four 300-yard passing games, tied with Peyton Manning (1998) for the most by a rookie in a season.
"The kid, he continues to amaze," Reggie Wayne said after catching seven passes for 78 yards. "Hopefully I can help, you know, add on to his legacy that he's about to build."
Judge says the win over the Dolphins proves Luck is the real deal.
"He and the Colts punctured a decent Miami defense for six first downs of 10 or more yards and eight drives of eight plays or more," Judge writes. "Oh, yeah, he's also 5-3. Peyton Manning won three games his entire rookie season."