GREEN BAY, Wis. Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji believes Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has no peer when it comes to the NFL's top running back.
But after Raji and his Packers spent much of their Sunday getting steamrolled by Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount, they had a vote for No. 2.
"(Blount) is probably the second toughest back we had to play this year," Raji said. "Just knowing if he gets a seam, running downhill, he's a load to take down. He runs very aggressively, he's a very skillful player and he made us pay."
Blount ran for 107 yards on 18 carries and had a memorable 54-yard touchdown in which he broke six tackles. Blount and the Buccaneers totaled 455 yards of offense, lost 35-26 to the Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Buccaneers fell to 4-6 after their fourth straight loss. But Blount certainly left his mark on the Packers.
"Big boy," Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said of the 6-foot, 247-pound Blount. "He's got 50 pounds on you … and when you go low on him, he jumps over your head. He's got some nice moves for a big back. He's a good back. Really good."
Green Bay entered the game ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 100.4 yards per game. Blount terrorized the Packers all day, though, using his combination of quick feet, tremendous power, and surprising burst.
Blount refused to talk afterward, but his play certainly impressed others.
"He ran with a passion, he ran for his teammates," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said of Blount. "He did a nice job jumping in and playing a little bit extra today. He ran hard, he ran tough, he ran physical, he ran strong, he ran powerful and he ran smart on a couple of runs today. I was proud of his effort."
Blount's most memorable effort came early in the second quarter. Tampa Bay was in a 14-0 hole and in danger of being blown out by the undefeated Packers.
On a first-and-10 from Tampa Bay's 46-yard line, it appeared Blount would be stopped after a minimal gain. But Blount ran over linebacker Desmond Bishop, took Williams for a ride and broke four other tackles on his way to the end zone. The 54-yard run was Blount's longest touchdown.
After the game, many Packers compared the run to that of Seattle's Marshawn Lynch during the 2010 playoffs. And the score gave Tampa Bay life.
"He's a good back," Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said of Blount. "The thing is you have to stop his feet. Once you stop his feet, then he has trouble. If you don't stop his feet, he's up there with the best. Once he gets rolling, he's tough to tackle."
The Packers focused their defensive attention on Blount the rest of the day, which helped Tampa Bay open up its passing game.
Quarterback Josh Freeman finished with a season-high 342 passing yards. And on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dezmon Briscoe in the fourth quarter, the entire Packers defense was concentrating on Blount.
"Is he the second-best back we've seen?" Williams asked. "The way he performed today, he has an argument. He performed really well."