The NFL has existed for more than 100 years and in that time, no team had ever done what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did on Sunday. During the Buccaneers' 38-3 loss to the Saints, Tampa Bay somehow only managed five rushing attempts, which set the NFL record for fewest rushing attempts in a game.
To say Tampa Bay gave up on the run would definitely be an understatement, because it was worse than that. It was almost like the Bucs forgot the run existed. After calling two run plays in the first quarter, they would only call two for the rest of the game. The crazy thing is that Tampa Bay was on track to finish the game with just four rushing attempts, but it ended up reaching five because Blaine Gabbert's kneel down on the final play of the game counted as a rushing attempt.
Here's what the box score looked like for the Bucs at the end of the game:
If you're scoring at home, that's five carries for 8 yards. Before Sunday, the NFL record for fewest carries in a game was six and that had actually been done four times. In a twist of fate, Tom Brady was also involved in one of those games.
Craving even more NFL coverage focusing on previews, recaps, news and analysis? Listen below and subscribe to the Pick Six podcast for a daily dose of everything you need to follow pro football.
- Chicago Cardinals vs. Boston Redskins, Oct. 22, 1933: The Cardinals couldn't get anything going in this game as they totaled just six carries in a 10-0 loss to Boston. Final score: Boston 10-0 over Chicago.
- New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Oct. 31, 2004: The Patriots had to abandon the run early in this game after falling behind 24-3 in the first half. Brady ended up throwing 43 passes in a game where the Patriots rushed just six times for five yards. The Patriots were 6-0 going into this game, but fell to 6-1 after losing to the Steelers. The Patriots' leading rusher was Kevin Faulk, who had five carries for 4 yards. Final score: Steelers 34-20 over Patriots.
- Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings, Nov. 26, 2006: Letting Matt Leinart throw the ball 51 times is never a good idea, but that's exactly what the Cardinals did in this game. Unlike the other three games, the Cardinals actually kept this game close for the most part, they just didn't want to run the ball. Their leading rusher was Edgerrin James, who carried the ball four times for 15 yards. As a team, the Cards rushed six times for 17 yards. Final score: Vikings 31-26 over Cardinals.
- Minnesota Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills, Sept. 23, 2018: This ended up being one of the biggest upsets in NFL history as the 16.5-point underdog Bills would shock the Vikings. In this game, Minnesota gave up on the run after Buffalo jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the first half. The Vikings' leading rusher in this game was Mike Boone, who carried the ball two times for 11 yards. As a team, the Vikings finished with six carries for 14 yards. Final score: Bills 27-6 over Vikings.
Like the Buccaneers, all four of these teams lost. As far as rushing attempts go, the magic number seems to be nine. If you don't hit that number, then you have no chance of winning in the NFL. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, there have been 20 games where a team had eight carries or less and those 20 teams have gone 0-20.
The Buccaneers game got so ugly that Tampa Bay only called ONE run play in the entire second half. For a breakdown of everything that happened in Tampa Bay's blowout loss, be sure to click here.