Bucs 22 Dolphins 19 - the game report
On a night when the franchise retired #99, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got the number that meant the most to them in 2013: One. A hard-fought 22-19 win over the Miami Dolphins demonstrated the Buccaneers’ resolve in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football and produced the team’s first victory of the season. Tampa Bay improved to 1-8 on the season with the win while dropping their down-state neighbors to 4-5.
“A win cures everything,” said CB Darrelle Revis, who sealed the victory with a leaping interception on Miami’s last play from scrimmage. “We’ve been 0-8 and have been struggling to get wins this year, but it’s good to get our first win, especially at home. The fans were into it, it was Veteran’s Day, it was an emotional game for us and we knew the type of game it was going to be on Monday night. It’s great for the fans, and it’s going to give us confidence moving forward week-in and week-out.”
The Buccaneers used an early surge on offense and a dominating performance on defense to get that much-coveted first win. Tampa Bay scored on its first two possessions and opened a 15-0 lead by the second quarter, and the defense made it stand by allowing just 213 yards by the Miami offense. The Bucs held a 15-7 lead at halftime when they held a ceremony to induct Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp into their Ring of Honor. Though Miami rallied to briefly take a lead in the third quarter, the Buccaneers made sure Sapp’s big night was accompanied by a victory.
“It feels so good,” said T Donald Penn, who joined Sapp as the only two non-skill-position players in franchise history to score multiple offensive touchdowns with his one-yard scoring catch in the first quarter. “You don’t know how tough it’s been. It feels great, especially on Monday night in front of all those people, in front of the world. It really shows what we got. Hopefully we can keep this thing rolling and not take a step back.”
Penn’s touchdown catch came immediately after rookie RB Mike James suffered a fractured ankle on a three-yard run down to Miami’s one-yard line. James, who had 158 rushing yards last weekend in Seattle, had already racked up 41 yards on five carries before he had to leave the game, was replaced by veteran Brian Leonard and recent waiver-wire claim Bobby Rainey. Leonard ran 20 times for 57 yards and Rainey added 45 yards on five carries to help Tampa Bay’s ground attack pick up 140 yards on the night. Rainey scored the game’s winning points on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter one play after his own 31-yarder took the ball down to the goal line.
“Bobby really stepped up; both him and Brian Leonard did a great job stepping up when Brian Leonard went down,” said QB Mike Glennon, who completed 11 of 21 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “He’s only been here for a few weeks, and to make the plays that he did shows that he’s a special player. Now’s going to be the time for both of those guys to take the role going forward.”
Tampa Bay’s incredible defensive performance included just two rushing yards allowed, establishing a new franchise record. The Bucs had just set that record at 10 yards allowed in the 2012 season opener against Carolina, but they outdid themselves on Monday night, tying for the 12th-lowest rushing yardage total allowed in a single game in NFL history. “We fell short in previous weeks and came close to winning games but couldn’t finish,” said Revis. “We finally found a way to finish this game and get a win.”
LB Lavonte David led the defensive effort with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and his first career safety. In addition to his game-clinching pick, Revis held speedy WR Mike Wallace to 15 yards on four catches, sealed the victory with a leaping interception in the game’s final minute. Just before that game-sealing turnover, the Buccaneers got back-to-back sacks of QB Ryan Tannehill, the first split by DEs Da’Quan Bowers and William Gholston and the second recorded by DT Gerald McCoy.
The Buccaneers got off to a fantastic start, driving 76 yards on the opening possession to score a touchdown on a third-down trick-play pass to T Donald Penn. Tampa Bay also scored on its second possession, making it 10-0 on Rian Lindell’s 24-yard field goal. The defense set up the next five points with a safety by David on a tackle of RB Daniel Thomas in the end zone. The ensuing free kick gave the Bucs a short field to drive for Lindell’s second field goal, a 35-yarder. Despite dominating most of the half, however, the Bucs led by only eight at the intermission after Miami drove 90 yards just before the break to score on Rishard Matthews’ six-yard catch.
Miami took the lead in the third quarter with 10 unanswered points keyed by Matthews’ second touchdown catch. Facing their first deficit, the Bucs rallied with a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, most of it on the ground. After RB Brian Leonard gained two first downs, RB Bobby Rainey ripped off a 31-yard run to the Miami one-yard line and then dashed around left end on the next play for the go-ahead score.
The Bucs got the ball first and got off to a quick start when Glennon’s first pass of the night found Underwood for a 30-yard gain on the left sideline. James’ first two runs went for five and eight yards, but his 17-yarder on a pitch that would have taken the ball down into the red zone was erased by an illegal-motion penalty. No matter…James simply took the next handoff up the middle for 24 yards to the Miami 14. Jackson’s catch-and-run over the middle made it first-and-goal at the four, but James suffered an ankle injury on a run down to the one two plays later. On third-and-goal, the Bucs brought in a jumbo package but tackle-eligible blocker Donald Penn slipped off the line and caught Glennon’s short pass for the game’s first points.
The Bucs’ defense got off to an equally good start, forcing a three-and-out thanks to LB Mason Foster’s tackle for a loss on first down and a blitz that forced an incompletion on third-and-16. On the ensuing punt, WR Eric Page fielded the kick and then lateraled to WR Skye Dawson, who got 17 yards to the Miami 40. That set the Bucs’ offense up for another quick score, as Leonard’s 14-yard run and Jackson’s 14-yard catch got the ball to the 12. The Bucs eventually had to settle for Lindell’s 24-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Great coverage by the Bucs’ kickoff team kept Tampa Bay’s momentum going, as return man Marcus Thigpen was trapped at the Miami eight. The Dolphins did get their initial first down of the game, but the Bucs forced a punt with consecutive hurries of Tannehill to force incompletions on second and third down on the next series. The Bucs moved quickly back into Miami territory thanks to a 35-yard pass-interference penalty on CB Brent Grimes, who was trying to cover Jackson on Glennon’s deep bomb down the right sideline. However, the Bucs were unable to recover from a Jamon Meredith holding call and had to punt away from the Miami 45. Even that worked out in Tampa Bay’s favor when CB Michael Adams stopped Michael Koenen’s punt at the Miami two-yard line.
And that led to two more Buccaneer points just moments later. After McCoy stopped TE Charles Clay (lined up as a fullback) for a loss of one on first down, David knifed through Miami’s line untouched on second down to drop Thomas several yards deep in the backfield for a safety. The Dolphins had to kick it away from their own 20 after that safety, and a short kick coupled with Rainey’s 15-yard return gave the Bucs a new possession at their own 42. A 14-yard catch by Leonard was the key play in an eight-play, 41-yard drive that ended in Lindell’s 35-yard field goal.
The Dolphins got nowhere on their next drive. After converting one third down, they lost five yards on a quick pass down the line to Wallace when Revis rushed in to drop him behind the line of scrimmage. A quick stop by S Mark Barron on a short pass to Wallace on the next play forced a punt, and Page found a seam to get 52 yards on the return back to the Miami 40. A sack on a cornerback blitz by Nolan Carroll kept the Bucs from capitalizing on that scoring opportunity, however, as they ended up punting from the Miami 45. It was fair caught by Thigpen at the Miami 10.
Consecutive catches by WR Rishard Matthews and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Dashon Goldson helped Miami get into Buccaneer territory for the first time on the ensuing drive. Another tackle-for-loss by David at the two-minute warning made it second-and-12 at the Bucs’ 47. After the break, Tannehill found Matthews two more times to get it to the Bucs’ 14 with one minute to play. Two plays later, Matthews ran uncovered into the middle of the end zone for an easy six-yard TD catch.
Miami got the ball first to start the second half and got off to a good start with two first downs before stalling at their own 44. However, the Dolphins’ sublime punter, Brandon Fields, then blasted a 55-yard punt that angled out of bounds at the Buccaneers’ one-yard line. That proved to be a big play, as the Bucs couldn’t escape the shadow of their goal line and ended up punting from the back of the end zone. Michael Koenen got off a great 62-yard punt but Thigpen got around the corner and got all the way back to the Bucs’ 29. Tampa Bay’s defense held after the long return but the Dolphins still got three points on Caleb Sturgis’ 43-yard field goal, making it 15-10 midway through the third quarter.
The Bucs’ next drive was plagued by two holding penalties, leading to another punt from the 20-yard line, and this one shanked off Koenen’s punt and went out of bounds at the Tampa Bay 41. The Dolphins used that starting point to drive for the go-ahead points, with Matthews scoring again on a swing pass he took 19 yards to the end zone up the left sideline. The Dolphins went for two and failed, making it a one-point game with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Miami found itself in scoring territory once again just minutes later when Glennon’s third-down pass in Jackson’s direction was behind the receiver and intercepted by S Jimmy Wilson. Wilson returned the ball 23 yards to the Bucs’ seven; Tampa Bay’s defense held but the Dolphins still added three points on Sturgis’ 30-yard boot.
After a touchback, runs of eight and 11 yards by Leonard got the ball out to the 39. Two more Leonard runs made it third-and-one at the 48 and one more power run up the middle moved the sticks. Glennon then found Underwood on the left sideline for 17 yards and two plays later Rainey broke free for a 31-yard run down to the Miami one. The Bucs gave it to Rainey on the next play, too, and he scampered around left end to find the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Miami got one first down on the next possession but had to punt it away thanks in large part to a stop by Barron for three yards on a sweep by Miller. On the ensuing punt, Page was flagged for unnecessary roughness, pushing the ball all the way back to the Bucs’ 11. A roughing-the-passer penalty on LB Phillip Wheeler kept the drive alive and an 11-yard catch by Rainey got the ball close to midfield before the Bucs punted away with three minutes to go.
Koenen’s 51-yard punt was fair caught at the Miami five, but catches of 14 yards by Clay and 11 by Wallace got the ball out to the 33. After the two-minute warning, the Bucs brought a big blitz and ended up with an eight-yard sack split by Da’Quan Bowers and William Gholston. On the very next play, McCoy beat his man to drop Tannehill for another loss of 10 yards. Miami used its second timeout facing a third-and-27 and CB Michael Adams broke up a short pass intended for Matthews. Tannehill threw deep on fourth down in Wallace’s direction and Revis made a leaping interception at the Bucs’ 29.