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Run game led by Rodgers helps Bucs past 49ers

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POSTED October 23, 2016 10:58 p.m.

SANTA CLARA (AP) — Missing their top two running backs and trailing by 14 points, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ decision to stick with the running game paid big dividends. Facing a San Francisco defense that can’t stop anyone on the ground sure helped the cause.

Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for a career-high 154 yards and rookie Peyton Barber scored on a 44-yard run to help the Bucs rally from that early deficit to beat the 49ers 34-17 on Sunday.

“I feel like I have that swag I had in college,” said Rodgers, who was cut by Chicago before the season and didn’t sign with Tampa Bay until after the opener. “You know you’re going in and you’re going to touch the ball a lot of times. It helps you run with a lot of confidence knowing that you’re not just going to get the ball five times. It helps me get into the groove.”

Rodgers and Barber have stepped up of late to help the Bucs (3-3) weather the absences of injured starter Doug Martin and backup Charles Sims and get back to .500 on the season.

After topping 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time all season two weeks ago against Carolina , Tampa Bay returned from the bye with its biggest rushing day since gaining 283 against Philadelphia last Nov. 22, thanks to Rodgers.

“I think he stepped in at the right time,” offensive lineman Demar Dotson said. “That first game he got in there and I started to see him run, I said the guy is pretty good, He’s explosive. He almost reminds you of Doug.”

Those kinds of days are becoming typical against a 49ers team that has allowed a 100-yard rusher for six straight games and is on pace to allow the most yards rushing in a season since the 1981 New England Patriots.

Combined with the 314 yards rushing allowed a week ago at Buffalo, San Francisco has allowed its most yards ever in back-to-back games in a single season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We have to do a better job at getting off of blocks, securing tackles and not letting big plays happen,” safety Eric Reid said. “We have to just get rid of those explosive plays.”

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