The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins the way the Bucs have started many games this season: on top. After a wild fourth quarter, they managed to put the game away. Tampa Bay has finally won a game this season. They beat the Miami Dolphins 22-19.
By halftime, the Bucs led 15-7, and had Miami reeling with 0 rushing yards gained in the first half. Quarterback Mike Glennon continued his excellent ball protection. He utilized running back Mike James and pushed the offense downfield with passes to Tiquan Underwood. They finished the first drive of the game with a touchdown to defensive lineman Donald Penn. Glennon faked a hand-off and hit Penn inside the end zone for the score.
Miami took their first possession on a touchback at the 20 yard line. After a slant play, Pouncy drew a flag for unnecessary roughness after the play. He grabbed and punched a Bucs defender, costing Tannehill 15 yards.
The Bucs held the Dolphins to a punt and James and Glennon went back to work. Unfortunately, James went down on a run and had to be taken off the field on the cart. We learned he was questionable to return with an ankle injury. He did not come back into the game. The Miami defense held this time, and the Bucs had to settle for a 24 yard field goal, pushing the lead to 10-0. Rian Lindell’s, cut after 10 years with the Buffalo Bills, put his career points scored to 1300.
On the kick off, the Bucs special teams smothered the run back at the 10 yard line. The Dolphins could not overcome the field position and had to punt again. The quarter ended with no change to the score, 10-0 Bucs.
Glennon had to run and slid for five yards. Brian Leonard, stepping in for James, continued to pound the Miami defense on the running game. The Bucs punted and were able to down the ball inside the 5-yard line.
Backed up to the end zone, the Dolphins could not get any breathing room, and the Bucs came up with a safety, stretching their lead to 12-0. Underwood broke outside and gained a first down on blown coverage by the Dolphins. Glennon drove downfield again and scored another field goal to gain the 15-0 lead.
Tannehill has had trouble in the last few weeks with his accuracy. He has been misjudging passes, under and over throwing receivers and making bad decisions on passes. For example, on a first down pass, Tannehill went for Wallace along the sideline. The ball was over thrown and went out of bounds while Wallace was still moving into position.
Revis caught Wallace on a screen attempt in the backfield, forcing another punt from Miami. The 55 yard punt was returned by Page for 52 yards, giving Tampa another excellent starting point in the final minutes of the half.
Before the half, however, the Dolphins managed to break through the Bucs offensive line and sack Glennon on a first down. The result was 2nd and 20. Leonard nabbed 5 yards for 3rd and 15, but Brent Grimes knocked away a pass to Underwood, forcing a Tampa punt.
After Thigpen fair caught the kick and with 3:43 left in the half, Tannehill started hitting Rishard Matthews and Brian Hartline. The Dolphins worked their way down field to score a touchdown on a pass to Matthews. The score at the end of the half was 15-7.
In the second half, the Dolphins came out fighting like trapped sharks. Miami had no rushing yards in the first half, and the last time that happened to the Dolphins was 2006.
Revis kept tight coverage on Wallace, effectively shutting down the Dolphins’ investment. He had only two catches for -2 yards. The Bucs had to call a timeout to correct their lineup. They had only 10 men on the field. Despite complete passes for first downs to Hartline and Matthews, and incomplete pass to Clay ended the drive in a 55 yard punt.
The Bucs took a delay of game flag and Glennon threw incomplete to Underwood. The ball was popped up by Carrol. On the kick-off, Thigpen returned a 62 yard kick 34 yards, driven out of bounds at the Bucs 29 yard line.
The Dolphins drove down-field close enough for kicker Caleb Jennings to score a 40 yard field goal, bringing the score 15-10.
Dawson was hit hard and fell with the ball. Although the ball came out, Dawson was ruled down by contact.
The Bucs got into trouble on back to back first down penalties, forcing them to 1st and 20 twice. It was too much to get around, and the Bucs had to punt it back. It was not much of a kick, causing Bucs’ fans fears to grow.
The Bucs have blown four fourth quarter leads this season, some of them double digit leads. On a short drive, Tannehill connected with Matthews for his second touchdown, to take the lead 16-15. A 2-point conversion attempt failed, but then Glennon threw his first interception in 159 passes. He fell just short of the record held by Sam Bradford for consecutive passes without an interception.
Off the interception, the Dolphins kicked another field goal to push their lead to 19-15.
Glennon went back to the running game, sending Leonard back into the fray. He faked a hand-off and passed to Underwood for another first down. Leonard came out and Bobby Rainey took his place, hustling down the field to give the Bucs 1st and goal at the 1-yard line. Glennon gave the ball to Rainey again for an easy rushing touchdown to reclaim the lead 22-19 with the extra point. It was Rainey’s first career touchdown.
Looking to reclaim the lead, Tannehill went back to the passing game. Tannehill kept the ball on a 3rd and 1 and pushed forward for the first down. The next pass went out of bounds however, and on 2nd and 13, Tannehill was almost intercepted. Tampa was flagged on the punt but only gave up 5 yards to Miami. On the punt, Page drew a personal foul flag for hitting R. J. Stanford after the ball passed them both.
There was no impact to the game at all and no reason to push Stanford out of bounds. As the officials discussed the matter, Bucs Coach Schiano had an intense but poised conversation with Page on the sideline.
All that remained was for the Bucs to protect the ball and run the clock out, which they did, sweeping Leonard out to the side. Glennon also gained 15 yards on a roughing the passer flag for a forearm to his helmet. With 5:55 left in the game, Glennon continued to work Rainey. After an 8-yard gain, Rainey was hit in the backfield, forcing the Bucs to punt it back to the Dolphins with 3:22 left.
Tannehill stepped up to go for the win and got swarmed by a Bucs inside blitz. On 2nd and 18, Tannehill’s offensive line failed again. He was sacked again, pushing the line of scrimmage back even further. On 3rd and 18, Tannehill threw incomplete. Down to 1:44 left, Tannehill went for it all, throwing the Hail Mary down field. Bucs’ Revis undercut the route and intercepted Tannehill In the air.
Glennon handed off to Leonard twice. Miami had no time outs left and the Bucs ran the clock out to get the first win of the season, 22-19.
Although they started strong, the Bucs faltered as they have been known to do in the second half. Somehow, something fell into place for the Bucs and they fought for the lead and the win.
Perhaps the distractions of the last two weeks were too great a weight for the Dolphins. Or perhaps it was no more than being outplayed. Either way, their surge in the third quarter fell short of the win. Now they have another week to deal with questions and speculation about their ongoing off-field issues.
At 1-8, the Tampa bay Buccaneers’ record still does not reflect the true talent on this team. They proved this tonight and now that they have tasted success, we cannot help but think they will put all the pieces together and push through the rest of the season with more victories.
By Brandi Tasby