Sunday found a Florida matchup, courtesy of a quirk of sorts in the NFL scheduling, between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At first glance, you might think that there wouldn’t be very much scoring; if you subscribed to that line of thinking, then surprisingly, you’d be wrong. Actually there were the obligatory lead changes as most close games tend to have; however, it took a late drive conducted by Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne which led to a 25-yard field goal with 10 seconds left, enabling Miami to escape Land Shark Stadium with a 25-22 win over Tampa Bay. The Dolphins, despite the win, lost Ronnie Brown to an ankle injury in the third quarter.
The first quarter was rather uneventful as neither team stood out offensively, with the only socring coming, courtesy of a 51-yard Connor Barth field goal with 11:24 left in the period and a Brown touchdown run from a yard out, giving the Dolphins a 6-3 lead going into the second period. A key replay reversal occurred which helped Miami score 10 points in the final 1:25 of the first half; the sequence included a 5-yard TD reception by rookie Kory Sperry, followed by a 30-yard Dan Carpenter FG nearly 90 seconds later, giving the Dolphins a 19-6 lead as both teams went to their locker rooms at halftime.
The third quarter was much like the first as little offense took place, with the only scoring taking place at the 4:05 mark of the period, courtesy of a 54-yard Barth FG, cutting the Dolphins lead to ten at 19-9 going into the final 15 minutes. Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman, just seven seconds into the final quarter, hit wide receiver Maurice Stovall with a 33-yard TD pass, reducing Miami’s lead to 19-16; after an interception by Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black, running back Carnell Williams would score on a 1-yard TD run with 1:14 left to go, giving the Bucs a very brief 23-22 lead. A quick drive by Henne set up what would prove to be the winning score as Carpenter drove home a 25-yard FG with just 10 seconds left on the game clock, icing the win for Miami.
Henne had mediocre numbers as he went 17-of-31 for 175 yards wth a TD and an interception while Freeman went 16-of-28 for 196 yards with a TD and an INT and also ran for 36 yards. Ricky Williams led the Dolphins’ rushing attack, carrying the ball 20 times for 102 yards while Brown added 82 yards on a dozen carries and a score; Williams led the Buccaneers rushers with 14 rushes for 52 yards with a TD.
WR Davone Bess led the Dolphins receivers with 4 receptions for 72 yards while Sperry caught three for 31 yards and a TD; tight end Kellen Winslow led the Bucs receivers with 7 receptions for 102 yards while Stovall caught 4 passes for 47 yards and a TD. Miami (4-5) looks to get to .500 as they have the short week; they travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers Thursday while Tampa Bay (1-8) returns home to host the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints next Sunday.