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Buccaneers vs. Vikings recap: Tampa takes early lead, closes out for 36-17 win

Doug Martin ran for over 100 yards for the first time in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 36-17.

A dual-threat back, Martin shouldered much of the Buccaneers offense on Thursday night, finishing with 135 yards and rushing for a touchdown. The first-round rookie wasn't done there, adding another 79 receiving yards and yet another touchdown. Minnesota's defense had no answer for the "Muscle Hamster," whose 64-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter proved to the be the death knell for the Vikings.

Fellow running back Adrian Peterson did what he could on his end, finishing with 123 yards. He had a big play of his own, matching Doug Martin's 64-yard touchdown, but his was a run instead of a reception. Coming off an injury in late 2011, how Peterson would recover was one of Minnesota's biggest uncertainties, but he has been better than anyone imagined, and is now on pace to rush for over 1,500 yards this season, which would be his best total since 2008.

While the running backs were putting on a clinic, the quarterbacks didn't experience the same shared success. Josh Freeman threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Christian Ponder struggled, however, as he threw for 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It marked two weeks in a row where the second-year QB was unable to complete 55% of his passes, following a start to the season that saw him complete 70% routinely. This was largely due to pass-protection issues as he was sacked three times and was consistently under pressure.

The defensive standout for Minnesota was Jared Allen. The Vikings defensive end finished with four tackles and one sack. Late in the game, he became a little chippy, getting into a fight with offensive tackle Donald Penn, but was a consistent source of pressure off the edge. Meanwhile, Michael Bennett of the Buccaneers finished with four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.

The Buccaneers now move into sole possession of second place in the NFC South with their 3-4 record. Meanwhile, the Vikings have allowed space to open for the Chicago Bears to seize control of the NFC North with a win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Fantasy Studs and duds

This game was all about the running backs, and whether you started Martin or Peterson, both RBs gave you a lot of points. Another stud was Freeman-- while he didn't throw for a lot of yards, he did finish with three touchdowns.

Vincent Jackson was a disappointment on Thursday. Despite coming off a 216-yard game against the New Orleans Saints, he managed just two receptions for 40 yards in Minnesota.

Injury report

Late in the game, Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson left with an apparent left arm injury. However, he was able to return.

Did they cover?

The Minnesota Vikings were 5.5-point favorites and obviously did not cover.

What's next?

The Buccaneers head out west to face the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 4.

The Vikings also travel, this time to face the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 4.

This article originally appeared on SB Nation.

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Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.