Rookie Doug Martin broke through a few holes early only to stumble after a short gain on what he felt should have been big gainers.
A small tweak to his style at the suggestion of coach Greg Schiano proved to be just the trick to give Martin a record-setting day.
Martin rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns, and Ahmad Black intercepted a Carson Palmer pass after Oakland had cut an 18-point deficit to three late in the fourth quarter as the Bucs beat the Raiders 42-32 Sunday.
"A few of those I got through the line and kind of stumbled and my head went down. Coach kept telling me, 'Get your head up, get your head up,' because that will increase your balance," Martin said. "So after that I kept my head up and kept my balance and I was on to the races."
Was he ever.
Martin, who was born in Oakland and went to high school in nearby Stockton, had a memorable return home for the Bucs (4-4) by scoring on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards in front of more than 60 friends and family members.
"Everybody was there. It was awesome," he said. "It's surreal right now. I'm just doing my job out there. I'm honored."
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.
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.
"The way Doug is breaking tackles and having that top-end speed to make people miss and outrun people to the end zone, it's exceptional," quarterback Josh Freeman said. "It's all about preparation with him. Doug doesn't get in the game and when the moment's not too big, he gets in the game, he knows what he's got to do."
But Tampa Bay still struggled to hold onto an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead against an Oakland team that lost star running back Darren McFadden to an ankle injury late in the first half.
Palmer threw for 414 yards and had three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter as Oakland cut the Bucs' lead to 35-32 with 3:51 to go.
The Raiders then got a defensive stop and took over at their 38 with 2:42 to play. But on second down, Palmer threw off-target down the left sideline and Black came up with the second of Palmer's three interceptions.
"I can't throw that ball," Palmer said. "You just need to take a sack sometimes if things are off of the same page and come back the next play."
Martin then ran three straight times to score his fourth touchdown and put the game away.
Freeman threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns as Tampa Bay won for the third time in four games. The Bucs are averaging 477 yards and 36 points per game over the past four contests.
"We have a lot of different weapons," said receiver Vincent Jackson, who scored Tampa's first touchdown. "The coaches do a great job of just giving teams different looks, spreading the ball around. ... It's fun to play in an offense like this that can be very explosive.
The Raiders, coming off two straight victories against one-win Jacksonville and Kansas City, had no answers for Martin and the Bucs, allowing the three long runs in the second half when Martin gained 220 of his yards.
"I really think we have to take this extremely seriously," linebacker Miles Burris said. "For something like this to happen, it's not OK."
Along with the loss, the Raiders had to deal with another injury to McFadden, who left in the second quarter because of his ankle. X-rays were negative, but McFadden did not return and his status was unknown. He missed 19 games in his first four seasons with foot, toe, shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries.
But McFadden would have been no help trying to stop Martin, who broke the franchise record of 219 yards James Wilder set in 1983 despite the absence of All Pro guard Carl Nicks, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a left toe injury.
Martin helped break open what had been a close game with his huge second half. He gave Tampa Bay the lead for good with a 45-yard TD run on the first possession of the second quarter and then added the two other long runs as he continually faked out the Raiders' front seven and outran their usually speedy secondary.
"He's turned into a heck of a player here these last two weeks," Bucs 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."
NOTES: Oakland DE Lamarr Houston blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt by Connor Barth in the first quarter to set up an Oakland field goal. ... Seattle's Shaun Alexander has the most yards rushing against Raiders, gaining 266 in in 2001.
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