The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Miami Dolphins 17-13 behind a strong defensive effort. The offense certainly looked better than last season, but the defense remained stout and kept the Dolphins to 13 points overall. The pass rush looked much improved with five total sacks, while the run defense kept the Dolphins to just 22 yards on 17 carries. Dolphins lead back Reggie Bush lost one total yard on five runs.
Josh Freeman did not look overly sharp, but certainly looked much better than in previous games. The third-year quarterback completed 12 out of 23 passes for 149 yards and led two scoring drives. Rudy Carpenter led another scoring drive in the fourth quarter for the game-winning touchdown. Legarrette Blount also showed a new aspect of his game, catching 3 passes for 62 yards. Overall, the offense looked improved, but struggled to reach its 2010 form.
While the Buccaneers gave up a touchdown on the first drive, they looked very good the rest of the way. On the touchdown, E.J. Biggers was beaten by Brandon Marshall, who subsequently juked out Cody Grimm and stiff-armed Quincy Black before walking into the endzone. That was one of the few bad defensive plays the Bucs had, however, as they notched five sacks and stifled the Dolphins offense.
E.J. Biggers forced a Brandon Marshall fumble that was key to stopping the Dolphins, although Biggers was otherwise unable to stop Marshall in the air. One player who really stood out was Da'Quan Bowers, who managed a sack, a tackle and a QB hit by my count.
Unfortunately, the win came with some consequences. Michael Bennett and Kellen Winslow left the game with injuries. Kellen Winslow's injury was to his ankle, and he was probable to return during the game. Ira Kaufman noted after the game that he was fine. Michael Bennett was said to have the wind knocked out of him, and was also noted to be probable to return. While these injuries do not appear to be serious, they do show the fragility of the team. Kellen Winslow is a vital part of the offense, while Michael Bennett has looked like the best pass rusher this offseason.