Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette challenged his offensive line Sunday, pleading with them: “Y’all give me an inch, I’ll take it a mile.”
While it might have only been 0.0261364 of a mile, his 46-yard touchdown run late helped seal the win over the Panthers, and his linemen were happy to provide.
“I loved it,” guard Ali Marpet said, via Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times. “[It was] a little bit of a burst of energy. I’m going to try to give him more than an inch, but if that’s all he needs — it got me excited [and] I think it got the rest of the offensive line excited and fired up. The best part about it is he backed it up. He brought it.”
Fournette’s run also helped swing the game, after the Panthers made a rally to cut into an early Buccaneers lead.
“When there’s swings in momentum, you definitely feel that on the sideline,” Marpet said. “I’m hoping that this year — there’s always going to be stuff that goes your way and stuff that doesn’t go your way — but to sort of mitigate those swings, just keep the momentum on our side as best we can, I think that makes a big difference. There’s so many games in this league that are this close, and the momentum and mitigating swings is just all you can do. As long as we can just keep doing that moving forward, we’ll be really good.”
And as long as they can keep giving Fournette a little space, he could be carrying them to something bigger. His 100-yard game (actually 104) was just the fourth for the Bucs in the last four seasons. They’re hoping to continue the current rotation, with Ronald Jones starting and Fournette offering his kind of burst as the game goes on.