Published October 26, 2012
| Sports Network
Minneapolis, MN – Josh Freeman fired three touchdown passes and Doug Martin racked up over 200 total yards and two scores, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended a nine-game road losing streak with a 36-17 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field.
Freeman threw for 262 yards on 19-of-36 passing, while Martin carried the ball 29 times for 135 yards and a rushing score and added three catches for 79 yards and a touchdown grab to help the Buccaneers (3-4) earn their first road victory since Sept. 18 of last season in Minnesota.
"Doug had a huge night tonight," Freeman said of his rookie running back. "The moment is never too big for Doug and he did a great job tonight."
Christian Ponder completed 19-of-35 passes for 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception and Adrian Peterson rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for the Vikings (5-3), who have lost six straight against Tampa Bay.
"We definitely did not play good football in any phase," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier admitted. "I didn't do a good job of getting our guys prepared for a game like this. We did not play well. It's extremely obvious."
Tampa Bay struck first on its second touch of the game, as Martin's 41-yard rush down the left sideline set up Connor Barth's 28-yard field goal.
After a Minnesota three-and-out, Freeman converted a 3rd-and-10 with a 26-yard strike to Vincent Jackson down to the Minnesota 22.
Freeman's 10-yard pass to Dallas Clark gave the Buccaneers a 1st-and-goal at the one and on the next play, Freeman faked the handoff and tossed a 1-yard TD pass to Erik Lorig to give the visitors a 10-0 lead with 3:34 left in the first.
A Jerome Simpson fumble on Minnesota's ensuing possession set up another Tampa Bay score, as Barth buried a 40-yard field goal early in the second to extend the lead to 13-0
Minnesota finally broke through on their next drive, as Ponder hit Percy Harvin for 32 yards and Peterson followed with an 11-yard surge.
A roughing the passer penalty moved the Vikings to the Tampa Bay 22, and on 3rd-and-6, Ponder lofted a pass into the front right corner of the end zone for Harvin, who hauled in the 18-yard touchdown pass to bring the home team within 13-7 with 9:39 left in the second.
Minnesota forced a quick three-and-out from the Bucs to regain possession, but Peterson was stripped by Ronde Barber and Quincy Black jumped on the ball to give Tampa Bay possession at the Minnesota 37.
The Buccaneers needed just six plays to capitalize on the turnover, as Freeman found Mike Williams in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard TD strike to cap the abbreviated drive and restore Tampa Bay's 13-point advantage.
Minnesota countered with a 10-play, 47-yard scoring march, as Ponder found Simpson for 33 yards on 3rd-and-12 to move the Vikings to the Tampa Bay 37 just before the two-minute warning.
The Vikings were unable to convert another third down however, and they settled for a 51-yard field goal from Blair Walsh to pull within 20-10 heading into the locker room.
Tampa Bay needed just four plays to score on the opening possession of the second half, as Martin caught a screen pass, stiff-armed a defender, and scampered 64 yards for a touchdown to extend the margin to 27-10.
"We needed it," Williams said of Martin's score. "We said in the locker room we need to go out and put up points so we can set the momentum for this half and that's what we did."
After a three-and-out from the Vikings, Martin carried the ball three straight times for a total of 19 yards before Freeman hit Williams for 12 more to the Minnesota 27.
The drive stalled there however, as Barth's 38-yard field goal gave the Buccaneers a 30-10 lead with 7:50 left in the third.
Harvin returned the ensuing kick 43 yards to the Minnesota 36 and two plays later, Peterson broke through the right side of the line, shook off a defender and raced 64 yards into the end zone to bring Minnesota back within 13 points.
The Buccaneers were able to put the game away late though, as they put together a 16-play, 87-yard trek that chewed up over nine minutes, spanning the third and fourth quarter.
Freeman converted four third downs on the march, including an 11-yard completion to Williams down to the Minnesota 5-yard line.
Three plays later, Martin punched it in from one yard out before Freeman's two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete to account for the final margin.
Minnesota hasn't defeated Tampa Bay since a 20-16 victory in 2001 ... Tampa Bay activated defensive end Da'Quan Bowers off the physically able to perform list before the game ... The Vikings fell to 5-1 when Peterson rushes for 80- plus yards this season ... Peterson is now first all-time in Vikings history for most 100-yard rushing games with 30.