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Bucs want to ride Doug Martin to victory against Chicago

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Going into their final game of the year, there are few surprises remaining for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

They will try to run the ball. They will try to start fast. They will try to play good defense.

Whether the Chicago Bears cooperate, we will see.

Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith talked about trailing early in a game as “having a mountain to climb.”

“It’s been like that, I think,” Smith said. “It’s about that start. No reason why we shouldn’t start well. I know our guys are excited. When you get to your last home game you want to play your best ball and we practiced that way so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”

That start, of course, will depend on how well the Bucs are able to run the ball. Doug Martin, who was named to the Pro Bowl this week, trails Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson by nine yards with two games left.

“I just know what we like to do and not like to do, that’s how we win,” Smith said. “You have to establish the way you want to win football games and I think we’re on record now on how we want to do it. We’re committed to the run. We have a great running back who has had an outstanding year. Our [offensive] line takes that personally and there are so many other things for us to do.”

Running the ball well means the Bucs may run it often.

“The times when we have been criticized it’s because of that,” Smith said. “When you get behind sometimes you have to get away from that balance that you would like. Again, we’re going to go back to that start so we can continue to play Tampa Bay Buccaneers style of ball, the way we want to do it.”

The Bucs play the Bears at 1 p.m Sunday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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