Bucs' run game awakens in Sunday's triumph against Bears
For at least one Sunday, complementary football became more than a mere buzz phrase at Raymond James Stadium. For the previously maligned Bucs offense, which has subsisted on mostly one dimension since the start of the 2022 season, balance manifested itself in a series of runs more gritty than graceful, more punishing than poetic.

The effort, while nondescript, was hardly non-relevant. In a display of balance Bucs fans have been yearning to witness in new coordinator Dave Canales' system, Tampa Bay complemented Baker Mayfield's big day (26-for-34, 317 yards, one TD) with 120 rushing yards on 34 carries.

It was the team's first 100-yard rushing game since its Christmas-night triumph at Arizona. Leading the way: beleaguered second-year back Rachaad White, who totaled 73 yards on 17 carries for a healthy 4.3-yard average. A week earlier at Minnesota, White managed 39 yards on 17 attempts.

"We grinded it out" said Todd Bowles, whose offense finished last in the NFL in rushing (76.9 yards per game) in 2022. "Thirty-four carries, kind of mixed it a little bit. We held it on the ground, kind of threw some in the air. It was a good balance; Dave (Canales) did a good job balancing them out, and Rachaad's our bell cow, and we rely on him when times get tough."

While no run went longer than 14 yards, the Bucs converted twice on third and short via handoffs in the first half. The second came courtesy of White, who scored up the middle on third and goal from the 4 for the Bucs' first touchdown. "It's tough when you're a young guy" White said.

"You come from college and you're used to making big plays and things like that, so sometimes you get out there and you're trying to force instead of just letting the game come to you. So that's what we did a good job of (Sunday), and we're trusting the big guys up front. Man, I really trust them with my life."

The Tampa Bay Times, published 18 September 2023