The game started off in about the best way possible, with Mike James running wild against the Dolphins defense. He led the Bucs all the way down the field before suffering a fractured ankle on a goal line carry in which he fell just short of the end zone. Glennon would give the Bucs' their first touchdown on an opening drive this year on a short pass to an eligible Donald Penn.
After forcing a three and out the Bucs again drove down to the goal line but were unable to put it in. A 24 yard field goal makes it 10-0, Tampa.
The Bucs would next get on the board with a couple of spectacular defensive plays. After a Koenen punt was downed at the one yard line, Gerald McCoy penetrated the backfield on the ensuing running play and tackled Daniel Thomas at the one inch line. Not to be shown up, Lavonte David went untouched on a blitz and tackled Thomas three yards deep in the end zone for the safety, putting the Bucs up 12-0.
Another Lindell field goal would put the Bucs up 15-0 midway through the 2nd quarter, and that's where it all started to go downhill for Tampa. With the second half winding down, the Bucs let the Phins drive down the field. The drive was aided by an idiotic penalty on Dashon Goldson, in which he head butted a helmetless Dolphins player after a play. In case he hadn't cost the team enough, Goldson appeared to be frozen in place on the ensuing touchdown, letting Rishard Mathis run right behind him in zone coverage and allowing an easy six.
At halftime, Warren Sapp was honored for his years of service by being inducted into the Ring of Honor. It was a great moment, but many Buc fans were already seeing the writing on the wall in what has quickly become a familiar pattern under Greg Schiano.
Surprising everyone, Tampa forced Miami to punt on their opening drive of the second half. Unfortunately, it happened to be a phenomenal punt, going out of bounds at the one yard line. After nearly giving up a safety themselves, Tampa was forced to punt from deep within their end zone. Koenen out-kicked his coverage and the Dolphins managed to return the ball all the way back to the TB 29 yard line. Again, the defense held stout, managing to only allow a field goal on the play.
On Tampa's next drive they were the victim of one holding call on Tiquan Underwood in which he didn't even touch the defender, and another legitimate holding call, stalling an offense that actually seemed to be clicking a little bit. After the Tampa punt, Miami again drove down the field, culminating in yet another Rishard Mathis touchdown. This one came on a wide receiver screen in which Leonard Johnson forgot he was supposed to be playing defense and Johnthan Banks showed off every bit of the 4.61 speed by getting beat to the corner of the end zone.
With the Bucs trailing 16-15 I have to admit I was convinced they would lose yet again. I had zero hope. It got even worse on the next possession. Vincent Jackson, who failed to show up for the second week in a row, saw three targets in a row. On the first, he definitely heard steps and dropped an extremely catchable ball for the first down. On the next, he failed to even look for the deep ball on a go route in which the ball sailed right over his head. On the third, Glennon threw a bad pass and was intercepted. The ball was returned all the way down to the Tampa Bay seven yard line.
Again, the defense held stout in spite of the offense straight up bending them over, and held the Dolphins to a field goal, putting them down 19-15.
Up to this point Bucs' running back Brian Leonard had not been having a bad game by any means. He hit the holes he was supposed to hit, but he wasjust unable to make anything meaningful happen. Bobby Rainey had only one carry after James going out until the fourth quarter. He finally got his chance and capitalized on it with an electrifying 31 yard run, taking the Bucs all the way down to their goal line. He would finish what he started on the very next play, showing great quickness by bouncing it outside on a nice little stretch play.
The Bucs would hold on to win after that, 22-19. The defense came up with a huge stop to finally close out a game this year. They managed to sack Tannehill on back to back plays and Revis recorded an interception to put the lock on it. While the defense definitely won this game for Tampa, they still had some issues. Once again, the opposing offense's strategy was simply throw it whomever Darrelle Revis isn't covering and had quite a bit of success with it. Rishard Mathews had ten career catches before this game, and ended up with eleven catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns tonight.
I won't harp on the negatives though. It's literally impossible to complain about anything after finally recording a win this year. Bucs win, Bucs win, Bucs win!